The war in Ukraine has enhanced the views of the LGBT+ community in the country, according to the manager of a shelter run by KyivPride.
Jul Sirous and Olha Onipko help provide temporary accommodation for LGBT+ refugees from the Ukrainian war.
Shelter coordinator and education manager Olha told the Palestinian Authority news agency that people wrote to KyivPride asking for shelter for a few hours or days as they searched for safer pastures after Russia’s invasion on February 24. .
She said they needed to provide their community with a “safe place.”
Generally, the people who stay there are offered accommodation, psychological help and training courses to qualify for new jobs.
The fundraiser for the shelter was the brainchild of Briton Steve Taylor, who lives in Copenhagen and sits on the EuroPride board of directors.
According to the European Association of Pride Organisers, the current total raised in aid of Kyiv and Kharkiv Pride so far is almost £90,000.
The shelter’s security manager Jul said: “I hope that when we have this first Pride after the victory, we can invite all these organizations to our Pride.”
Jul said the network shows that the LGBT+ community has the “power” to help each other.
“It’s the main reason why, and it’s not just about the LGBT community… I mean, even the Ukrainian society changed and started helping each other and this is the main reason why Russia won’t be able to win because we’re not apart. . We are like a nation,” Jul said.
“You can see that opinion about LGBT people during the war also changed drastically and it’s a good change because a lot of people understand that things like sexual orientation or gender identity…it’s not very important when these people save you or when these people they hold you up and I think it’s amazing.
“Unfortunately, we pay a high price for this understanding, but it is a good change in our society.”
Jul said that the stories of Russian soldiers targeting LGBT+ people for sexual violence and murder are true.
They told PA about an activist they knew from Kherson who was captured and held by Russian soldiers for two months.
“It’s not easy to say that he was raped, but it’s true,” Jul said. “Unfortunately, many people (were) raped by them.”
Jul claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin used the LGBT+ community as “a reason to attack Ukraine”.
Both managers said their names are on a Russian murder list.
Olha told PA that the murder list is an attempt to “destroy” the activists.
“If there are no activists, you can change other people’s minds more easily,” he added.
She said she was “proud” to be on the list.
When asked about the first anniversary of the war, both managers insisted that they are not afraid, although they feel “pain” thinking of the people and friends who have been lost.
Telling the story of a man who came to stay at the shelter after traveling from his home in Kharkiv, Olha said: “I was walking outside and at that time while I was walking, all his family was at home in one building and at that time. At that moment, Russian missiles destroyed his building and his entire family died: parents, sisters, brothers.”
She stayed in the shelter for about a month and now works in western Ukraine and continues to write to Olha, who says her story affects her a lot.
Asked what message they wanted to send, the couple said it is important for them to continue their work in Kiev and hope to live in a democratic Ukraine that becomes part of the EU, UN and NATO.