#SOY LGBT+ community in Ukraine fears Russian occupation – Mazatlán Post

Thursday 17 March, 2022
5 mins read

 

The LGBT+ community has seen great change in recent years in Ukraine, but all those advances could be paralyzed by the war. In fact, the activists fear that if Moscow comes to occupy the country, they may be one of the main objects of the Russian troops.

In the center of Lviv, in western Ukraine, Tymur Levchuk managed to organize Fulcrum, a shelter for 13 homosexual men who have fled from different cities in the country due to the violence of Russian troops during the invasion that began last February 24th.

“All the official shelters are managed by the city council, and they only reach women, children and the elderly. But for gay people, and especially for trans people, it is difficult, especially those who still have the gender in their passport, it is very difficult,” said Levchuk, who is executive director at Fulcrum UA, one of the few LGBT+ NGOs in Ukraine.

All men over the age of 18 have been called to the front lines, which is a big problem for those who don’t know how to fight or simply don’t want to go to war, says Anton Levdik, Director of Fulcrum Program Management. .

IN THE BLACK LIST

Days before the start of the conflict, the United States sent a map to the UN warning that Russian forces had drawn up a list of Ukrainian citizens to kill them, something that was branded by Moscow as a falsehood.

Likely targets are people who oppose Russian actions, including those dissidents from Russia and Belarus living in Ukraine, as well as journalists, anti-corruption activists, and members of ethnic and religious minorities and the LGBT+ community.

Ledvik assured that more than just a theory, this list may be true, since the Chechens, who participate in the war with Moscow, “have promised to fight and kill members of the LGBT+ community.”

“This is very serious and if the Putin regime takes Ukraine, we have to say goodbye to all LGBT+ organizations and also to all activists, one by one,” he says.

Yura Dvizhon, co-founder of Ukraine Pride, says it is “sure” that his number is on this list, as he is one of the most well-known activists in Ukraine.

But he says that, at least at the moment, he is not afraid:

“Since the start of this war, there are different levels of fear. Today, for example, I am not afraid of Russia and I am ready to fight as much as I can.”

PARALYZED PROGRESS

Dvizhon stated that Ukraine “has changed a lot in the last five years” regarding tolerance of the LGBT+ community and that it has become the refuge country for all homosexuals and trans from the states that previously formed the Soviet Union, such as Belarus.

Just before the war, activists were demanding that the Ukrainian authorities pass Bill 5488, which addressed legal issues related to hate crimes against the community, but that has stalled.

“I have seen how the situation has improved in the country and that is why I have stayed here,” says Dvizhon, who is hopeful that when the war ends, the anti-discrimination law will be approved as a great step for the community in this country. .

For his part, Levchuk, from his Fulcrum organization, is trying to raise more funding to open a second shelter and that the money that comes to them is also donated to the Ukrainian Army, where there is also a group of “LGBT+ military”.

“Of course we need support, more capacity for more shelters to provide basic food, but this is a temporary action that could not help us in the long term. We need international support (…) and first of all, for the Army”, he affirms.

Levdik says the international community “needs to hear” that it is “time to act.”

“We have to stop Putin, whatever all the countries that support Ukraine can do. If they don’t start doing something right now, I don’t know what will happen,” he stresses.

Mmore rights for the community

Just last September, some 7,000 people participated in the center of kyiv in the so-called “March for Equality” to demand more rights for the LGBT+ community in this country, including the recognition of civil unions and a more effective fight against hate crimes against the collective.

The activists waved rainbow flags and banners with slogans such as “this is my home country too”, “together for equal rights” or “I exist”, as well as chanting slogans such as “rebel, love, don’t give up rights “.

“On the one hand, there is more visibility (of the LGBT+ community in Ukraine), people become more open,” Dzvenyslava Shcherba, a representative of Amnesty International (AI) and an activist who led the march, told the Efe agency.

But “on the other hand, there are still many legal limitations: LGBT+ people cannot marry or adopt children and hate crimes against them are not investigated,” he stressed.

The main demands of the organizers of the equality march that year were to adopt and implement laws on hate crimes, as well as those that allow civil unions of LGBT+ couples in Ukraine.

“There are couples who have lived together for 15, 20 years, who raise children, but the state does not recognize them as families,” explained Olena Shevchenko, coordinator of “kyiv Pride” and director of the NGO Insight, which operates in ten Ukrainian cities, where it promotes the rights of women and the LGBT+ community, and where it provides legal and psychological assistance to these people.

“There is a big gap between society, which is becoming more tolerant and accepting of LGBT+ people, and politicians, who still believe that Ukraine is a very conservative country,” he said.

LGBT+ WAR VETERANS FOR EQUALITY

At the gay pride in kyiv were Ukrainian and international human rights NGOs, organizations of parents of LGBT+ children facing bullying, and a community of war veterans raising awareness of gay rights in the military.

Viktor Pylypenko, one of the first Donbas war veterans to come out as gay after leaving the army in 2018, wore his military uniform with decorations. Pylypenko is a co-founder of the NGO “Ukrainian LGBT Soldiers for Equal Rights”, which has 120 members.

“I am here because I want equal rights, in particular the right to marry and have a family… I was beaten two years ago after coming out as gay and I know many soldiers who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation,” he said.

For Shcherba, this was his fourth LBGT+ march and he felt more confident than the previous ones. At the beginning of the year, two gay pride marches were held in the cities of Kharkiv and Odessa. There were minor clashes between police and far-right groups in Odessa, resulting in arrests, but no attacks on LGBT activists were reported.

To ensure the safety of the march, there was a heavy police presence in kyiv. Several subway stations were closed to the public and metal detectors were used at access points to the event.

“All Pride participants received a long list of security measures before the event. There are a lot of police, metal fences. This is wrong and that’s why we are here, because we want to be accepted,” Shcherba stressed.

Once the march was over, the police escorted the activists to one of the metro stations on the outskirts of kyiv, to avoid possible attacks by religious and far-right groups.

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Source: from El Sol de Mazatlán | Noticias Locales, Policiacas, sobre México, Sinaloa y el Mundo – frontpage on 2022-03-16 23:00:00

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