LGBT+ Ukrainians fear ‘extermination and concentration camps’ under Russian rule, activist says

LGBT+ activist Andriy Maymulakhin can hear gunfire in his home, which is located in a village just 50 kilometres from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

Life since Russia invaded has been tense for Andriy, who serves as head of LGBT+ rights organisation the Nash Mir Centre, based in Kyiv. He’s separated from his boyfriend of 10 years, who is in western Ukraine. Two of his friends and one of their elderly parents are sheltering at his home.

Shortly after Russia launched its invasion, Nash Mir’s offices were raided and its employees assaulted. Those who attacked them were, surprisingly, Ukrainian – the raid points to just how high tensions are in the country.

“Our organisation is quite small, just five people in the group and about 12 activists across the country. I did not hear from anyone that he or she wants to leave the country. This is our country,” he says.

Like countless other Ukrainians, Andriy has been separated from his loved ones by war. His boyfriend is currently based in Lviv, where he has family, meaning the pair are now unable to see each other.

“We call each other every day, but still, it’s now impossible to join him. He says, ‘Oh I shall return’ – I say, ‘No, it is so dangerous.'”

LGBT+ people in Ukraine could be ‘exterminated’ under Russian rule.

The invasion is devastating for the Ukrainian people and the war is destroying people’s lives. For the country’s LGBT+ community, the war has come as a shocking blow for a number of reasons. One of those is that things had been gradually improving for their community in Ukraine in recent years. If Russia were to exert control over their lives, they fear that those hard won freedoms would be under threat once more.

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