LGBT+ Denmark supports shelter for displaced LGBT+ people in Ukraine
LGBT+ people in Ukraine find themselves in a highly vulnerable situation after Russia’s invasion. In a new partnership, LGBT+ Denmark supports two Ukrainian organizations, Insight and STAN, in delivering protection and vital services to LGBT+ people displaced within Ukraine.
The shelter is financially supported by LGBT+ Denmark and will offer temporary accommodation, psychosocial support as well as necessities such as medicine, food and help with transportation for displaced LGBT+ people.
The support is made possible with funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs implemented through Civil Society in Development (CISU) and in close partnership with the human rights organization, STAN, and Ukraine’s largest LGBT+ organization, Insight, who runs the shelter.
The shelter is located in the Carpathian region of SW Ukraine, near to the Romanian border, an area where many Ukrainians are currently fleeing towards. The shelter will therefore also facilitate planning and coordination between LGBT+ people to find refuge in or outside of Ukraine.
LGBT+ people at heightened risk
Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, and gender-diverse people have been a vulnerable group in Ukraine prior to the invasion. Although recent years have seen improvements, harassment, hate crimes and widespread discrimination form the living conditions of the country’s LGBT+ population.
Russia’s invasion has since exacerbated the challenges, with LGBT+ people reporting both harassment in the Ukrainian army and security-compromising discrimination in the search for shelter and protection.
Trans and gender-diverse people are at particular risk. The Ukrainian government requires men between the ages of 18 and 60 to remain in the country and join the army. This means, for example, that trans women who have not changed legal gender to women may encounter discrimination at the border and not be able to leave the country. Trans people also experience difficulty accessing essential medicine such as hormones.
Susanne Branner Jespersen, head of secretariat at LGBT+ Denmark, states:
The entire population of Ukraine is at great security risk, and we know that the possibilities for safe housing are severely limited in the western part of the country. LGBT+ people face some very special challenges, and it has been crucial for us to help where we can, with what we can. We are pleased that we have been able to establish a good working relationship with our Ukrainian partners so quickly, who are making a vital difference to Ukraine’s displaced LGBT+ population.
Olena Hryhoriak, coordinator of regional representation (Chernivtsi) at Insight, states:
Today the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian society, and especially different vulnerable groups are highly affected by the cruel invasion by Russia. Our safety is very limited. If we are talking about LGBT+ community even in normal, peaceful time public coming-out could bring some risks: harassment, threats, stalking, physical violence. Just some days ago, our Head of Organization was attacked by someone using a gas canister, resulting in a chemical burn of her face.
That’s why we are very grateful to LGBT+ Denmark for their support and for understanding all the issues we meet after the Russian invasion. We are very happy to establish a good partnership between our organizations.
About LGBT+ Denmark
LGBT+ Denmark is Denmark’s largest and oldest political organization for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, and others who break with the norms of gender and sexuality. The organization runs international development projects in East Africa, the SWANA region, and in 2021 began establishing partnerships with LGBT+ actors in Armenia and Ukraine.
Insight is Ukraine’s largest LGBT+ organization and works to promote human rights and the legal protection of LGBTIQ+ people. They also work to spread LGBT+ inclusion and provide psychological and legal support to LGBT+ people, including amending legal documents for transgender people.
STAN is a Ukrainian NGO and youth association working to promote human rights, democracy, and to support civil society of Ukraine through informal education, emphasizing local initiatives and active citizenship with a particular focus on marginalized groups in Ukraine, including the LGBT+ population.
For comments, please contact press officer Jakob Steensen Nielsen on [email protected] or tel. +4561279186.
Photos by Victoria Young, Insight