On Monday, writing for Newsweek, Alex Rouhandeh broke down one of the lesser-discussed potential consequences of Russia toppling the government of Ukraine: a new era of repression for LGBTQ communities in Eastern Europe.

“Although not an international leader in the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights, Ukraine has taken significant steps over the past decade to better the lives of its queer citizens. In 2015 it implemented anti-discrimination employment laws, and in 2016 it began allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood, all part of an effort to become a more equitable state,” wrote Rouhandeh. “In contrast, Russia has moved in the opposite direction. In 2013, it banned same-sex couples from adopting Russian children, and in 2020 it outlawed same-sex marriage. The Kremlin has also cracked down on the ability of LGBTQ+ activists to organize, and has permitted law enforcement in the Chechnya region to carry out violent campaigns against the community.”

Experts in the region fear things could get much worse if Russia is successful in seizing Ukraine and installing a puppet state.

“Bogdan Globa, who heads the nonprofit LGBTQ Ukrainians in America, fears the individuals who’ve spent years fighting for these advancements could become Putin’s first targets,” said the report. “‘LGBT activists usually are the same people who care about human rights,’ Globa told Newsweek. ‘They are people who work locally but travel internationally to speak with media.'” He added: “Russia will kill them. Because after they will take over Ukraine, they will need to install their puppet government to control territory, and human rights activists are the people who prevent that control.”

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Putin’s harsh treatment of queer communities has caught the attention of the American Right — some of whom have actually cited this as an argument for why we should switch sides to support Russia in the war. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, for instance, said on his War Room show that Russia deserves U.S. support because it is “anti-woke” and “doesn’t have Pride flags.”

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