Some LGBTQ Ukrainians fear human rights abuses if Russia stays: “We will fight”

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02/24/2022

Kyiv, Ukraine – Some LGBTQ people in Ukraine are fearing targeted human rights abuses if Russia occupies the country. “That would mean a direct threat to me and especially, well, to me and to the person I love,” Iulia, an 18-year-old law student, told CBS News. She is training to be a lawyer in Kharkiv, an eastern city that could be a primary target for Russia if it launches a wider invasion of the country. She wants to use her degree to fight for LGBTQ rights in Ukraine. “In Russia, LGBTQ people are persecuted,” she said. “If we imagine that Russia occupies all of the Ukraine or just a big part of the country, they won’t allow us to exist peacefully and to fight for our rights as we are able to do that in Ukraine right now.” Russia formally banned same-sex marriage in 2021 — even though it hadn’t been allowed there anyway — and it passed a law against so-called “gay propaganda” in 2013, which made it illegal to equate same-sex and heterosexual relationships or promote gay rights. “Ukraine is a European country. We have a 10-year history of Pride marches, and as you know, in Russia, the situation is like opposite,” Edward Reese, project assistant for Kyiv Pride, told CBS News. “We have totally different paths. … We see the changes in people’s thoughts about human rights, LGBTQ, feminism and so on. … So definitely we don’t want anything connected to Russia … and we won’t have them.”

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