The war between Ukraine and Russia forced Ukrainian members of the LGBTQ2S+ community to sleep in shelters while waiting to be evacuated from their country.
Executive Director of Kyiv Pride, created in 2012, Lenny Emson (she/he), said there is a sense of mutual support among all queer refugees. He is working in conjunction with the Ukrainian Gay Alliance to provide medicine or food, transportation, and shelter for all the members of the community still inside the country.
He said, “People stay for a few days waiting for a train or a bus to move further away. It’s a really small family, even though people come and go.”
The shelter has psychological help for people who need it. Emson says the LGBTQ2S+ community is one of the most vulnerable, and just like everyone else, they are also losing their homes and family members.
In 2021, Kyiv Pride gathered around 7,000 people for a parade in celebration of Pride in the center of the Ukrainian capital. This year with the Russian invasion, the organization is directly assisting 250 people and will continue to do so as long as necessary.
Emson said, “Even when the war ends, the fighting won’t”.
His country has faced many homophobic and transphobic attacks, so Emson estimates that the situation will worsen after the invasion.
According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, there were 80 hate crimes against the community in 2020 alone. 38% of them were ignored by the police, and in 27% of them, the police went to the scene but did not take action against the attack.
Donations for this organization continue to come in, Emson has received help from people all over the world.