The badge dates from 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea. In 2018, a special union for Ukrainian LGBT+ soldiers was established from this movement. "They said there are no gays serving in the military," 37-year-old gay soldier Oleksandr Zhuhan told Reuters news agency. To increase the visibility of the community in the army, the insignia with the mythical animal is sewn under the Ukrainian flag.
Zhuhan was an actor and drama teacher before the war. He and his non-binary partner Antonia (she/her) have volunteered to join the Ukrainian army since the beginning of the war. They wear the badge with pride. They have not yet experienced discrimination in the army. “You had to get used to it,” they both admit, “but there was no aggression, no bullying.” Antonia's pronouns were even respected by some.
The two no longer fear discrimination: “What worries me is that if I die in this war, they won't allow Antonina to bury me the way I want,” Zhuhan says. “That they would rather have my mother bury me with a priest who reads stupid prayers… But I'm an atheist and I don't want that.”
The unicorn symbol is not only worn by Ukrainian soldiers: porn studio Treasure Island Media started a campaign last month to raise money for the Ukrainian army. The studio sells merchandise with the unicorn badge on it.