Since the full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on February 24, LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine have been among the country’s fiercest defenders and organizers, while also being among its most marginalized citizens. The We Support LGBTQ Ukraine Fund is raising monies for non-governmental organizations in Ukraine that are serving the immediate needs of queer people – particularly those who have remained in the country.
Created by queer Ukrainian-Canadian playwright/activist Andrew Kushnir in partnership with the Veritas Foundation, the We Support LGBTQ Ukraine Fund bridges a gap in current humanitarian relief efforts (which frequently overlook the distinct realities of marginalized groups). Concurrently, the Fund seeks to reduce barriers to giving by verifying beneficiaries and issuing official tax receipts for all gifts. To increase the impact of donations, a rolling group of generous matching donors have ensured that all contributions so far have been matched, dollar-for-dollar.
The We Support LGBTQ Ukraine Fund is currently focused on Ukrainian NGOs on the ground. By virtue of being in direct contact with their community members, these organizations are particularly capable of agile and timely responses to those in need. These NGOs and their activists are:
- Establishing and sustaining LGBTQ+ safe shelters in numerous Ukrainian cities;
- Assisting with the essential needs of LGBTQ+ people including food, hygienic products and critical medications such as anti-retroviral therapies for those living with HIV and hormone replacement therapies for trans individuals;
- Coordinating the safe relocation and rehousing of internally displaced LGBTQ+ Ukrainians;
- Providing assistance to/advocating for trans and non-binary individuals navigating Ukraine’s martial law;
- Providing legal support, psychological support and counselling;
- Winterizing community members with blankets, portable heaters and power banks.
The seven NGOs that are currently beneficiaries of the fund are:
1. Gender Zed: based in the southeastern city of Zaporizhia, this NGO is currently focused on meeting the essential needs of its community members and coordinating relocation for LGBTQ+ folks who are internally displaced. genderz.org.ua
2. Kyiv Pride: has been a leading voice in the information war, has been meeting essential needs of community members, and has recently opened a shelter for LGBTQ+ folks in Kyiv. kyivpride.org
3. NGO WA Sphere: based in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, this organization’s focus during wartime is meeting essential needs of community members, providing psychological support to LGBTQ+ folks and women, and facilitating relocation and shelter of those in unsafe areas. sphere.org.ua
4. Cohort NGO: has been specifically addressing the needs of trans individuals in Ukraine including securing hormone replacement therapies for community members, partnering with trans-friendly shelters in western Ukraine, and coordinating safe passage for trans and non-binary Ukrainians. cohort.com.ua
5. Fulcrum NGO: has been running several safe shelters for LGBTQ+ folks, has been coordinating income, legal and psychological support for queer Ukrainians. www.t-o.org.ua
6. Insight NGO: has been running 3 shelters for the internally displaced LGBTQ folks along with providing critical medications, psychological and legal support. insight-ukraine.org
7. LIGA: a long-established LGBTQ+ NGO in Ukraine, LIGA has been providing social supports, humanitarian aid, and HIV/STI health services in multiple centres across the country.