An image, which has already been shared thousands of times on various social networks – usually accompanied by derogatory or even homophobic comments – appears to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky marching in a gay parade, supposedly in New York, 1999.
It turns out that neither Zelensky was at the event nor the event in the image even happened that year, as the original photo—which, in this share, was edited and manipulated—wasn’t taken until years later.
Starting from the beginning: using a search using tools to find the origin of the image, you can see that it has been shared thousands of times, in different languages — on Google alone, there are thirty pages of results dedicated to the same image, others to criticize the photo purporting to show Zelensky, others to deny that it is, in the first place, of the Ukrainian President.
And it is not. In fact, as you can see from photographer Thomas Locke Hobbs’ photo-sharing Flickr page, the image exists, but it originally shows a completely different person than Zelesnky — the photo has been digitally edited to insert the President’s face. from Ukraine. The original photo, which shows another man in a group dressed in military patterns, still exists and is available online.
Furthermore, as Hobbs clarifies on his website, the photo wasn’t even taken in 1999 — it was taken at an LGBTQ parade years later, in 2006. In his website archives, Hobbs appears to have shared a more extensive series of photos to illustrate that day, “specifically a group of friends who dress up drag queens every year and invade the parade. Their theme this year: Iraq,” he explained. This justifies the use of military motifs on the clothing, with colors associated with those Zelensky usually wears and has appeared in public since the start of the war.
Additionally, in this batch of images there are several other photos showing the man whose image was altered to appear to be associated with Zelensky.
The idea that Volodymyr Zelensky was at a gay pride parade in New York in 1999 is false and based on a digitally manipulated image. First off, the photo is someone else’s and it was taken in the same city, but in 2006.
So, according to the Observer’s classification system, this content is:
In Facebook’s rating system this content is:
FALSE: The main content claims are factually inaccurate. This option usually corresponds to “false” or “mostly false” reviews on fact-checking sites.
NOTE: this content was selected by the Observer as part of a fact-checking partnership with Facebook.