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Latest from Ukraine: Russian homophobia loses appeal as war rages; 13 more stories

Latest from Ukraine: Russian homophobia loses appeal as war rages; 13 more stories

Reports of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected LGBTQ Ukrainians


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Ukrainian military medic Ivan Honzyk's most popular post on Instagram. (Photo courtesy of Ivan Honzyk via NBC News)
Ukrainian military medic Ivan Honzyk’s most popular post on Instagram. (Photo courtesy of Ivan Honzyk via NBC News)

NBC News reported:

As Ukraine’s LGBTQ soldiers fight on the front line, acceptance grows in the conservative country

The greater visibility of gay and lesbian military personnel appears to be a catalyst for acceptance in wider society, and opinion polls show attitudes are changing.

KYIV, Ukraine — On a riotous Instagram profile featuring pole-dancing, cross-dressing and fierce makeup, a picture of Ivan Honzyk in high heels and stockings next to an image of him in military uniform has gotten the most likes by far.

The junior sergeant’s posts are a bold statement in socially conservative Ukraine, where pride parades were often attacked before the war and swaths of the country are occupied by forces loyal to Russia, one of the world’s most conspicuously homophobic states.

But as more members of the LGTBQ community fight on the front lines, the greater visibility of gay and lesbian military personnel appears to be a catalyst for acceptance in wider society, and opinion polls show attitudes are changing.

Honzyk, 27, said his uncompromising self-expression, combined with his work in places like Bakhmut — the city in eastern Ukraine that has seen some of the bloodiest battles of the war, while serving as a potent symbol of the country’s defiance — is helping to further the cause of LGBTQ rights in the country faster than any pride marches could.

“My fellow soldiers are really impressed with what I’ve done in Bakhmut, the massive scale of work that I did there, and after that they just don’t care about who I sleep with,” Honzyk, whose medical unit evacuates wounded soldiers and provides emergency first aid, said in a hip café in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, while on leave from the front line.

Plenty of other gay and lesbian soldiers have also posted photos and videos of themselves online, some sporting unicorn insignia on their uniform, the mythical creature an ironic riposte to the idea that there are no LGBTQ people in the military.

In the U.S., lesbian, gay and bisexual people were allowed to serve openly in the military only in late 2011. Ukraine’s armed forces did not have rules preventing the LGTBQ community from serving, but homophobia was rife in the ranks, reflecting a more widespread societal attitude.

But in apparent recognition of their services, Ukrainian lawmakers recently tabled draft legislation that would recognize same-sex relationships and address the lack of inheritance, medical and other rights for the partners of LGTBQ soldiers killed or wounded fighting pro-Moscow forces. …

A January survey by the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that works to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions in developing countries, found that 58% of Ukrainian respondents agreed that LGBTQ “people should have the same rights as others.”

That contrasts with a 2016 survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology that showed 60.4% of respondents viewed LGBTQ people negatively. Last year a similar poll found that percentage had shrunk to 38.2%.

For more information, read the full article “As Ukraine’s LGBTQ soldiers fight on the front line, acceptance grows in the conservative country”.

Ukrainian trans activist Anastasiia Yeva Domani provides hormone therapy from her apartment. (Photo courtesy of Insider)
Ukrainian trans activist Anastasiia Yeva Domani provides hormone therapy from her apartment. (Photo courtesy of Insider)

Activist provides hormone therapy to the trans community from her home

Insider reports:

Trans activist Anastasiia Yeva Domani’s apartment has been converted into a makeshift space that provides gender-affirming medical care, which has been hard to access since the Russian invasion. She is the director of Cohort, an organization offering support and financial, medical, and legal assistance to transgender people in Ukraine. She and her 12=person team shifted from advocacy work to medical assistance in order to meet the needs of trans community.

“People can come over to receive medicines or hormone therapy they need,” Domani said in an interview.

A recent video posted on TikTok by Openly News shows cupboards full of hormone therapy medicine in Domani’s apartment on the 17th floor of her building as she gives viewers an online tour.

Domani, who transitioned herself about seven years ago, said trans folks found out about her operation because she is well-known in the city and through her social media presence and Cohort’s platform.

Yulia (left) and Tetiana (Photo courtesy of BBC)
Yulia (left) and Tetiana (Photo courtesy of BBC)

Ukrainian LGBT refugees plan to wed in UK

BBC reports that a Ukrainian LGBT couple are due to be married in the UK a year after they fled the war with Russia.

Yulia and Tetiana, who have been together for 10 years, said they had wanted to tie the knot for a long time.

However same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are not recognised in Ukraine.

The couple have settled in Derbyshire and said they felt closer and more together than they could be back in Ukraine.

“We are going to do the only thing you can’t do in Ukraine. We are going to get married,” said Tetiana.

“Because we are a same-sex couple, here in Britain we are somehow closer and more together than we could be back in Ukraine.

“We are happy because we are alive and safe and together but it’s a very bitter happiness.

“Every day we read the news, we check on our friends – are you alive, are you ok?”

The couple plan to hold a small ceremony at a register office in March.

Tetiana said they initially began planning their wedding several years ago.

“For Russian and Ukrainian [LGBT] people, the only possibility is to go abroad to be married,” she said.

“If we were told two years ago we were going to get married in Great Britain, we would have said ‘wonderful’.

“But the circumstances are so difficult and so different.”

The couple, who worked as translators in Kiev, said they planned to donate money to Ukraine’s war effort and hope, eventually, to return to their homeland. … (February 2023)

Ukraine to Host its First Ever Queer Film Festival: ‘We Are Here, We Are Queer, and We Are Defending This Country’

Variety reports that the Ukraine will soon host its first standalone queer film festival.

See Also
A protester holds a sign saying “Don’t scare everyone” during a rally for freedom of speech and freedom for political prisoners in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2022. (Vyacheslav Oseledko photo courtesy of AFP/ Getty Images / HRW)

“Sunny Bunny,” original a queer-focused program of Kyiv’s Molodist Film Festival, is eying its first standalone festival this June.

The festival will try to properly represent queer communities in all their diversity, says programmer Bohdan Zhuk. It will also try to reflect ongoing wartime struggles in Ukraine. (January 2023)

Gay soldier flees Russian missile strike during speech honoring Ukrainian LGBTQ+ servicemembers

The Los Angeles Blade reports that a gay soldier was forced to cut short a speech honoring queer service members to escape Russian bombardment.

The soldier was speaking via videolink from the frontlines, at a photography exhibit showcasing queer Ukrainians in the military organized by a group of Ukrainian LGBTQ+ organizations: the Ukrainian Union of the LBGT Military, KyivPride, and LGBTQ Ukrainians in America (QUA).

Ukrainian LGBTQ refugees share tales of support & discrimination in Poland

LGBTQNation reports that queer Ukrainian refugees have experienced discrimination in Poland, where more than 2 million Ukrainians have sought safe haven since the war began in February 2022. Poland is frequently ranked among the most homophobic countries in the European Union by the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe.

Local ordinances declaring several regions bordering Ukraine as “LGBT-free zones” have also made it difficult for LGBT organizations in Poland to serve the queer refugees upon arrival.

When compared to Western European nations — including Germany, France and Sweden — the lack of hate crime policies, anti-discrimination laws, civil partnerships, and marriage rights in Poland can make finding a job or housing a challenge.

In late June, KyivPride and Warsaw Pride joined forces to create the March for Peace that called for an end to the war and support for Ukraine’s LGBTQ community. Almost a dozen representatives from Ukrainian LGBTQ groups marched, with the mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, giving his full support to the march. (September 2022)

Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. highlights LGBTQ+, intersex rights

The Los Angeles Blade reports that Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova on Jan. 26 spoke in support of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights during an event that highlighted her country’s LGBTQ+ servicemembers.

“(The) LGBTQ+ community is an inseparable community of us, whether it’s here or in Ukraine,” said Markarova. “The faster we can stop any discrimination, the faster we will win, not only in the battlefield in Ukraine, but we also will win globally.”

Markarova spoke during a photo exhibit at Ukraine House that showcased LGBTQ+ and intersex Ukrainian servicemembers.

that a gay soldier was forced to cut short a speech honoring queer service members to escape Russian bombardment.

The soldier was speaking via videolink from the frontlines, at a photography exhibit showcasing queer Ukrainians in the military organized by a group of Ukrainian LGBTQ+ organizations: the Ukrainian Union of the LBGT Military, KyivPride, and LGBTQ Ukrainians in America (QUA). (January 2023)

Ukrainian LGBTQ refugees share tales of support & discrimination in Poland

LGBTQNation reports that queer Ukrainian refugees have experienced discrimination in Poland, where more than 2 million Ukrainians have sought safe haven since the war began in February 2022. Poland is frequently ranked among the most homophobic countries in the European Union by the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe.

Local ordinances declaring several regions bordering Ukraine as “LGBT-free zones” have also made it difficult for LGBT organizations in Poland to serve the queer refugees upon arrival.

When compared to Western European nations — including Germany, France and Sweden — the lack of hate crime policies, anti-discrimination laws, civil partnerships, and marriage rights in Poland can make finding a job or housing a challenge.

In late June, KyivPride and Warsaw Pride joined forces to create the March for Peace that called for an end to the war and support for Ukraine’s LGBTQ community. Almost a dozen representatives from Ukrainian LGBTQ groups marched, with the mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, giving his full support to the march. (September 2022)

More reporting from Erasing 76 Crimes

LGBTQ Ukrainians are supporting the war effort. (Photo courtesy of UkrainePride)
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