LGBTQ Ukrainians fight for their country and their lives. Here's how you can help.


The Russian invasion of Ukraine is built on the demonization and persecution against the LGBTQ community and has a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ people in Ukraine, who had just started to experience visibility and equality.

When Russian forces began assaulting Ukrainian cities on February 24, every Ukrainian was under attack. Many jumped in to defend their homeland.

“We are seeing LGBTQ Ukrainians stepping up to heroically fight for the freedom of the entire country. Supporting Ukraine’s fight for freedom is a fight for LGBTQ Ukrainians,” said Ross Murray, Vice President of the GLAAD Media Institute. “This is a war of disinformation: against Ukraine, democracy, and the LGBTQ community. We continue to battle lies and misinformation about the LGBTQ community, both at home and abroad.”

GLAAD is monitoring local activists and uplifting their campaigns to help LGBTQ Ukrainians. 

Even in the midst of an invasion, Russia continues to leverage animus against the LGBTQ community.

The Kremlin minimized the United States' warning of Russian invasion in the Ukraine to hysteria in mid-February as well as dismissed having a kill list of Ukrainian individuals or groups to be killed or sent to camps after the invasion took place. On this list is a presumed compilation of LGBTQ people and groups, religious minorities and ethnic minorities, politicians and journalists.

Russia has also detained out WNBA player Britteny Griner, who plays for the UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia in the off season. As a queer woman of color, Griner is in a precarious situation in the international conflict between Russia and the West.

The injustice only continues.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Patrick Kirill, preached a sermon using LGBTQ people, specifically pride parades, as justification for the invasion of a sovereign country. These messages continue to fan the flames of hatred, not just about the LGBTQ community, but against a whole country that has been very slowly inching toward greater acceptance.

While LGBTQ Ukrainians are fighting or fleeing, transgender women and nonbinary Ukrainians are are forced to fight due to male gender markers on their birth certificates. Although women and LGBTQ populations can still fight they are not necessarily welcome. Many are now left with no choice. LGBTQ Ukrainians who pass the border may flee to their neighbor–Poland–where laws condemn LGBTQ people too. Poland enforces “LGBTQ-free zones”, which discriminate against having LGBTQ people in certain regions of the Catholic, and increasingly, anti-LGBTQ country.

Additionally, multiple reports show Black Ukrainians prevented from entering buses and trains to the border. Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt are among the top 10 countries that send tens of thousands of students to study medicine and engineering in the Ukraine. Thousands of those students will be forced to endure the violence of Russia's war due to racism and xenophobia. 

A little history:

Russia passed an anti-propaganda law in 2013, specifically targeting LGBTQ people in Russia, using consistent manipulation of the media and harassment of LGBTQ people to turn the Russian population against LGBTQ people. This came months before Russia hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Immediately after that global event, Russia invaded Crimea.

In 2017, GLAAD had to wage a social media campaign to compel U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to condemn the kidnap and torture of gay and bisexual men in Russia-controlled Chechnya.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, LGBTQ advocates were building trust and security with the Ukrainian population. Early Pride events were marred by violence, but the advocates persisted, reaching out to their fellow citizens and creating media campaigns. GLAAD worked with Ukrainian advocates to prepare for a media campaign around the Pride events in 2016

This progress has continued. “Won't say anything bad about gay people to you, because we are living in a free society. Leave those people alone, for God's sake!” Said Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian president to anti-LGBTQ hecklers in 2019

LGBTQ and BIPOC organizations around the world are stepping up. GLAAD has long worked with RUSA-LGBT, an association of Russian and Russian-speaking LGBTQ people living in the United States. RUSA was one of the most outspoken organizations in opposition to the anti-propaganda law, as well as a de facto resettlement for LGBTQ Russians fleeing the persecution. They have set up several methods for LGBTQ people to donate.

Help RUSA-LGBT here and donate to organizations that provide humanitarian relief to Ukrainian people, including those on the frontlines:

Help RUSA-LGBT urge representatives to support Ukraine:

  • Send an easy pre-filled letter
  • Reach out to your representatives in the US Government and demand support for Ukrainians 
  • Help Ukraine defend itself
  • Urge the US to accept Ukrainian refugees

More ways to help:

OutRight Action, an international LGBTQ organization with headquarters in New York City, is accepting donations on behalf of local LGBTQ organizations prepared to ensure the safety LGBTQ refugees on their website or through GLAAD’s twitter

The organization Black is Polish is working to coordinate safe housing and travel to Poland for Black migrants. Visit their website for more information. 

GLAAD's updated Media Reference Guide has additional guidance for covering LGBTQ people and issues around the world. Access the guide here