Israeli organization launches fundraiser for LGBTQ+ Ukrainians

Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine are at an increased risk of persecution amid the Russian invasion.

Activists hold a rally demanding state support for the local LGBTQ+ community outside the presidential office headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine June 5, 2021 (photo credit: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters)
Activists hold a rally demanding state support for the local LGBTQ+ community outside the presidential office headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine June 5, 2021
(photo credit: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters)

The Agudah – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel - launched an emergency fundraiser on Monday to support members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine as Russian forces continue to invade the country.

The funds raised will be transferred directly to two local LGBTQ+ organizations in Ukraine: KyivPride and the Sphere Women's Organization. The money will be used for critical social services, providing shelter and accommodation and providing supplies to community members in Ukraine.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community in embattled country are at an increased risk of persecution amid the invasion.

Last week, the US Representative to the European Office of the United Nations, Bathsheba Nell Crocker, warned in a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet that the US has intelligence that targeted killings, kidnappings, unjust detentions and the use of torture could be used by Russia against anyone who opposes Russian actions.

Potential targets include "Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons," according to the letter shared by The Washington Post. The representative said that the US has "credible information" that Russian forces are making lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following the invasion.

 Law enforcement officers guard the Kharkiv Pride march organised in support of the LGBT community in Kharkiv, Ukraine September 12, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/VYACHESLAV MADIYEVSKYY) Law enforcement officers guard the Kharkiv Pride march organised in support of the LGBT community in Kharkiv, Ukraine September 12, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/VYACHESLAV MADIYEVSKYY)

LGBTQ+ people in Russia are often persecuted with their freedom of expression being restricted throughout the country and hundreds of members of the community killed and abused in Russian-controlled Chechnya.

"Now we are trying to take care of ourselves and our loved ones and think about what we can do for our community, for our LGBTQ+ community, in Kharkov," said Anna Sharyhina, founder of KyivPride. "It is dangerous here, we cannot even fully buy groceries, but we are still exploring all the options.

"We understand that people need shelter and additional tools, so we ask people what they need and try to help the military on a personal level as well as volunteering. If you have resources and you can help us, we would be very grateful, from the LGBTQ+ community, from all of Ukraine."

"Our community members are in double jeopardy and we will not stand by," said Hila Pe’er, chairwoman of the Agudah. "As a community, we are measured by difficult times and by our ability to stand together in solidarity, and we are committed to doing our utmost to care for the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine. Each donation will affect the life of a community member and help organizations deal with the dire consequences of war."

Those looking to help can donate here.

Kyiv Pride, the Union of the LGBT Military, the Nash Mir Center, KharkivPride, the Sphere Women's Organization and Gender Z have been working to help the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, including by providing supplies to LGBTQ+ Ukrainian soldiers.

"We remain strong, we are not intimidated. Putin will break all his teeth trying to bite us," tweeted Kyiv Pride on Thursday. "We have left far behind the past to which he seeks to draw us. We are a country that has chosen the values of human rights, humanity, life and personality. Putin lives in the past – his place is there."

"We will never give up, still the victory will be ours. Keep calm, we will win together!"