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United Against War

Ukraine saw ten million people fleeing their homes due to the Russian invasion, according to a statement released on March 20 from Filippo Grandi, the United Nations refugee chief. Yet, despite this need for evacuation, members of the Trans community are voicing fears of being stopped by authorities at the borders because their passports and documents contain their “old names”. Some Trans women worry they will be conscripted into fighting since their country does not allow men between the ages of 18-60 leave.

The Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (KAOS GL) illustrated the ongoing effect of Russia’s attack on the lives of queer communities; “While the torture against LGBTI+ is going on in the detention centres in Chechnya, the invasion started by Russia towards Ukraine would lead LGBTI+ hostility to become widespread also in our region.”

“We know that wars mostly affect vulnerable groups who already have difficulties in accessing rights, from the history of humanity. War policies, militarism and nationalism provoked by the states, return to LGBTI+ as violence everywhere, more particularly in the regions crushed by war,” the Association added.

A majority of GBT+ men and people are being conscripted to fight against occupying forces in Ukraine. On Instagram, LGBTQ+ NGO Kyriv Pride recounted the story of an openly queer person who lived in the capital city before going to war: “Today I was asked if I regret that I went to defend Ukraine. I thought and realised that this was the only right decision. If not for life, then for a very long time. [...] Falling asleep to rocket explosions is not really difficult at all, if you spent the whole day with a machine gun in your hands and standing on your feet.”

In the Kyiv Pride Instagram post, the person goes on to express, “The only thing that matters to me right now is whether my dogs and my family are okay. Ukraine and Ukrainians will survive, we are united and stronger than ever.”

Across the world, LGBTQ+ communities are standing with the people of Ukraine, united against Russia’s occupation. On February 27, Ukrainian queer activists organised a demonstration outside the Stonewall Inn in New York. One participant, Polina Buchak, shared, “Hopefully we will stop losing people, innocent civilians, because you can understand how terrifying it is. Sometimes there are not enough words to explain the emotions.”

In early March, more than 4,300 people were detained at anti-war protests in 49 cities across Russia. In Dublin, hundreds of people gathered outside the Russian Embassy for three consecutive days, showing their opposition to the assault on Ukraine and demanding the expulsion of Russian Ambassador Filatov from Ireland.

Further illustrating the emotional impact of the ongoing conflict, the Co-chair of LGBT Council of Ukraine, Olena Shevchenko, wrote on Facebook, “What is really important when you live in a war... It is important to believe in something. In my case I have a dream and it’s very simple. I want to come back to my hometown and to continue my work! Now I know how important it is what we do! For so many people, we became a hope. Hope to survive, hope to be secured, hope to stay alive and hope to continue their lives.”

In light of Olena’s call for hope, the following page lists organisations seeking donations to fund their ongoing support of queer people in Ukraine.

Kyiv Pride

The Ukrainian NGO works tirelessly to support LGBTQ+ people across the country. The team provides help through food, relocation, support groups, as well as providing access to local and global information.

On Kyiv Pride’s social media accounts, the team are creating an ever expanding database of organisations and individuals who offer shelter and transportation in Europe.

Donations can be made to: kyivpride.org/en/donate

Alliance Global Kyiv

The group Alliance Global are appealing for donations to fund shelters in Kyiv for MSM and Trans people who are unable to leave the city. Visit their website for details on how to donate at www.ga.net.ua/en/

OutRight Action International

On February 24, OutRight Action International launched a vital campaign to fund groups in Ukraine so that they can continue providing shelter and support for those displaced by the war. The emergency fund page also contains numerous articles highlighting activists’ response to the ongoing crisis.

OutRight Action International states on their emergency fund page, “The brutal reality is that LGBTIQ organisations in Ukraine and surrounding countries require immediate and sustained financial support to meet the needs of LGBTIQ people turning to them for life-saving help.” To donate to the fund, visit www.outrightinternational.org/ukraine

Kharkiv Women Association Sphere

Founded in 2006, the NGO Kharkiv Women Association Sphere defines itself as a “Ukrainian public lesbianfeministic organisation.” The team and volunteers are participating in humanitarian aid efforts on the ground. They currently work to cover food, phone bills, and medicine for the community.

Speaking on their Facebook page they shared, “During the first week of our financial aid programme for LGBT+ people coming from eastern regions of Ukraine, we have allocated around 300,000 UAH (approximately 10,000 EUR). All this money helped about 200 people to purchase food, medicine, clothing, pay for rent, mobile and internet fees, receive psychological counselling.” Support the Kharkiv Women Association Sphere NGO by donating via their website www.sphere.org.ua/en

LGBTI Human Rights Nash SVIT Centre

Established in Luhansk, Southeastern Ukraine, during 1997, “Nash Mir” Gay and Lesbian Centre advocates strongly for queer rights and visibility. Their mission statement reads, “By our initiative we took upon ourselves the responsibility for educating Ukrainian society about homosexuality, toppling recurrent stereotypes and prejudices against gays and lesbians, consolidating lesbian and gay community, and for advocating our rights.”

To further support their fight to achieve equal rights and respect for the LGBTQ+ community, donate at www.gay.org.ua/en/donation/

Insight LGBTQ

Ukrainian human rights public organisation Insight LGBTQ provides a range of services for the local queer community, such as legal and psychological support. The group works to provide temporary housing, relocation to safer areas, food, medicine and first-needed supplies. Visit their website at https://www.insight-ukraine.org/en/

NGO Fulcrum

Since 2017, Fulcrum has adapted the ‘Building Bridges’ strategy, developing and enriching relationships between LGBTQ+ communities and their allies. Following the invasion of Russian forces, they set up two shelters in Lviv offering accommodation and support to around 100 people. Fulcrum are currently renting non-residential spaces to adapt into acceptable living conditions. They also provide medical, legal, financial, and psychological support. To support their work visit www.t-o.org.ua/en

Gender Z

Based in Zaporizhzhia, Gender Z are seeking donations to support their work with community members who remain in Ukraine and need emergency assistance, such as shelter, basic needs support etc. On their website, they detail different ways for people to help, “1. By sharing reliable information; 2. Helping the refugees arriving in your countries; 3. Pushing your governments to help Ukraine; 4. Protesting in your streets and raising awareness of our crisis.” Support Gender Z by donating at their website www.genderz.org.ua/

Quarteera

The Berlin based Russian-speaking non-profit association Quarteera launched a call for donations to provide housing, basic needs, legal support, and language courses for Ukrainian LGBTQ+ people fleeing to Germany. Donations can be made via PayPal at info@quarteera.de

This article appears in the 371 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 371 Issue of GCN