Kyiv Pride sends defiant message to Putin after Russia invades Ukraine: ‘We will never give up’

Feb 24, 22
Kyiv Pride sends defiant message to Putin after Russia invades Ukraine: ‘We will never give up’

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Activists hold the rainbow flag on Volodymyrska Street during the Equality March.

LGBT+ activists in Ukraine have said they will “never give up” and that Putin will “break all his teeth trying to bite” as Russia finally invades.

There was widespread shock and condemnation across the world on Thursday morning (24 February) when the Russian president launched a “military operation” in Ukraine. He announced the decision in a surprise televised announcement that was immediately condemned by other world leaders.

Explosions could reportedly be heard across the country, while Ukraine’s foreign minister warned that a “full-scale invasion” had begun.

Gunshots and explosions have been heard at Kyiv airport, while the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has reported that Ukrainian military command posts in Kyiv and Kharkov have been targeted in rocket attacks. 

Ukraine’s LGBT+ community ‘not intimidated’ by Russian invasion

In recent weeks, Ukraine’s LGBT+ community have spoken of their fears for the future if Russia were to invade. Kyiv Pride, one of the country’s biggest LGBT+ rights groups, hit out at Russia and Vladimir Putin on Twitter on Thursday morning as news of the invasion broke.

“We remain strong, we are not intimidated,” Kyiv Pride wrote. 

“Putin will break all his teeth trying to bite us. 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, he has a place there.” 

They added: “We will never give up, still the victory will be ours. Keep calm, we will win together.” 

In a separate English language post, Kyiv Pride urged their supporters across the world to call on their respective governments to “take action against the war in Ukraine”. 

Firefighters work on a fire on a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on February 24, 2022, as Russian armed forces are trying to invade Ukraine from several directions.
Firefighters work on a fire on a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on February 24, 2022, as Russian armed forces are trying to invade Ukraine from several directions. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty)

“We need to stop it now, we need to show how powerful we are all together, and Putin will stand no chance,” the group wrote.

QUA, an organisation that provides assistance and support to LGBT+ Ukrainians living in the United States, condemned the invasion on Thursday morning and immediately announced plans for a protest in New York City.

The group said its members and supporters will gather in front of the Stonewall Inn to “protest Vladimir Putin’s ongoing aggression and the threat it poses to the queer movement in Ukraine”.

They also called on LGBT+ advocacy groups in the United States and Europe to raise awareness of the threat a Russian invasion poses to queer Ukrainians. 

“Once again Putin and Russia have decided to rob Ukraine of its sovereignty and claim ownership of Ukrainian people,” said Bogdon Globa, co-founder of QUA.

“Thousands of our brothers and sisters are under attack; Ukraine, as the only truly democractive former republic in the region, is under threat.

“If we still believe in freedom and democracy, we must stand in solidarity with Ukrainian society at this challenging and dark moment in Ukraine’s history.” 

Queer community is prepared to fight for freedom

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday after weeks of rising tensions. The countries have been at war since 2014, but fears have mounted over the last month that violence would spill over after Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops to its border with Ukraine.

LGBT+ activists have long warned that a full-scale invasion of Ukraine would spell disaster. They have spoken of their fears that LGBT+ rights would ground to a halt and that they could see their freedoms restricted and rolled back. 

People use their phone as they take shelter in a metro station in Kyiv in the morning of February 24, 2022.
People use their phone as they take shelter in a metro station in Kyiv in the morning of February 24, 2022. (DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty)

Lenny Emson, director of Kyiv Pride, told PinkNews in January that the LGBT+ community was prepared to fight if necessary.

“On this point we are united,” Emson said. “It does’t matter what your gender identity is, your sexual orientation – all together, we are stepping forward.” 

Just days ago, an anonymous US official told Foreign Policy that Russia could target prominent political opponents, anti-corruption activists, and “vulnerable populations” such as LGBT+ people if an invasion were to take place.

Among Russia’s likely targets, he said, were “religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons”. 

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