LGBTQ refugees fleeing Ukraine draw on European network of allies to find housing, medical care

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03/16/2022

When Edward Reese, a queer activist who works with Kyiv Pride, decided to flee Ukraine on March 8, he knew it was going to be a long journey. After leaving his home and walking for an hour in the freezing cold to the nearest working subway station, spending “one hell of a night” in a bomb shelter, catching a day-long bus ride to Lviv, and being escorted by aid workers to the Poland-Ukraine border, Reese was finally able to set foot in a small Polish border town. “We slept for like an hour or two in the morning in this big, big hall with tons of other people on these makeshift beds,” said Reese in an interview with CBC News from Warsaw last week. A few hours later, he took a bus to Warsaw, where a local LGBTQ advocacy group connected him with queer-friendly hosts who could temporarily house him. The whole journey took more than two days. Although  Poland has limited the rights of LGBTQ people in recent years, Reese, who is non-binary and uses he/him pronouns, said he feels safe in the country. But that’s largely because he was quickly welcomed and aided by Poland’s LGBTQ community.

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