Australia urged to accept Ukrainian LGBTIQ+ refugees

Ukranian LGBTIQ+
Image: Kyiv Pride Facebook

National lobby and advocacy group Just.Equal Australia wrote to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke last week urging him to accept Ukrainian LGBTIQ+ refugees.

Previously, a US diplomat warned of a Russian kill list that includes LGBTIQ+ community members. Many Ukrainian LGBTIQ+ community members remain in the country following the Russian invasion. Some enlisted in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Others indicated they would join the fierce civilian resistance to the Russian aggression.

Just.Equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said Australia should provide sanctuary to LGBTIQ+ Ukrainians fleeing the war.

“We have asked the Australian Government to make it clear that Ukrainian LGBTIQ+ refugees are welcome to Australia, given the fact they are targets of invading Russian forces.

“The Russian Government is infamous for its anti-LGBTIQ+ laws and its police repression of the LGBTIQ+ community.

“Australia should be a safe refuge for those whose rights and lives are under immediate threat, including LGBTIQ+ people who are targetted because of who they are.”

LGBTIQ+ rights in Ukraine

At this time, Ukraine still does not legally recognise same-sex relationships. Local LGBTIQ+ groups also encounter opposition to mounting pride parades.

However, those groups indicate a gradual improvement in the situation for LGBTIQ+ people in Ukraine. In 2015, the Ukrainian Parliament passed an employment discrimination law for LGBTIQ+ people. In 2016, the government simplified gender affirmation for transgender people. It also allowed blood donations from gay and bisexual men. A 2017 opinion poll found 56% of Ukrainians believe LGBTIQ+ people should have equal rights. Pride parades occur in most large cities.

In contrast, Russia bans public discussion of same-sex relationships as propaganda. Putin’s regime offers no anti-discrimination protections, pride parades are frequently disrupted, and LGBTIQ+ people live under constant threat of harassment and violence.

In Chechnya, deadly purges of LGBTIQ people continue. Last month, Russian authorities moved to close down the parent entity of the Russian LGBT Network which previously rescued victims of the Chechen purges.

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