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Ukraine's First-ever National Forum Presses for LGBTIQ Inclusion in Humanitarian Response





Denys Kratt
Published Date

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, now in its third year, has created havoc in the lives of Ukrainians and their long quest to achieve a stable and thriving democratic nation. Nearly 15 million people now need humanitarian assistance, including about 3.7 million people who are internally displaced. Continued attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure have left the country without stable power supplies, and ongoing strikes on civilian targets terrorize the population, especially in the south and east.

For many months now, Ukrainians have been coping with displacement, job loss, disruptions in access to essential care, and other challenges. Among them are thousands of LGBTIQ people, who, as they did before the full-scale invasion, must also contend with societal stigma, discrimination, and exclusion. Now, however, the stakes are even higher: lack of equitable access to humanitarian assistance can be life-threatening.

Advocating for Meaningful Inclusion

Since the start of the war, Outright International has sought to meet the specific humanitarian needs of Ukraine’s LGBTIQ communities, initially through emergency grantmaking.
Since January 2023, with support from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Outright has also undertaken a multi-year effort to strengthen LGBTIQ inclusion within the humanitarian response in Ukraine. Specifically, the program seeks to:

  • Assess and continuously monitor the needs of LGBTIQ people in Ukraine and how humanitarian assessment, response, and recovery plans are meeting or failing to meet those needs,
  • Make LGBTIQ inclusion visible in key humanitarian spaces through meaningful participation, convening and connecting all relevant actors, and
  • Advocate and raise awareness for LGBTIQ inclusion among humanitarian organizations and agencies for application in Ukraine and in other countries in the future.
Panelist sit on a stage at Ukraine's National Forum with a purple backdrop

The First National Forum on LGBTIQ Inclusion in Humanitarian Response

As part of this work, Outright, with additional sponsorship from CARE Ukraine, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Rights (RFSL), convened the First National Forum on LGBTIQ Inclusion in Humanitarian Response in Ukraine in Kyiv on April 9-10, 2024. Attended by nearly 100 people, the Forum’s premise was simple: to create a space where LGBTIQ activists and organizations, national and international humanitarian staff, and donors could come together to share perspectives, learn from each other, and co-create a roadmap to help ensure that LGBTIQ Ukrainians have equitable access to humanitarian assistance where, when, and how they need it. Over a full two-day program, LGBTIQ activists and humanitarians alike participated in panels and interactive sessions with the goal of bridging gaps and forging pathways to enable queer Ukrainians in need to receive support with dignity and respect.

Participants of Ukraine's National Forum stand together in front of purple backdrop

Next Steps

The Forum resulted in a roadmap of activities outlining ways to improve the inclusion of the Ukrainian LGBTIQ community within the programs of key humanitarian actors that will guide our activities in the coming months. Prior to the Forum, Outright supported the creation of a national LGBTIQ Working Group that meets monthly. In addition, we are collaborating with a range of partners to develop and conduct training programs for both LGBTIQ CSOs keen to learn more about how to access humanitarian support, as well as international organizations who want to develop safe and effective avenues for better meeting the needs and priorities of LGBTIQ communities in the context of the current crisis.
We believe this is the first step out of many more needed to ensure LGBTIQ communities in Ukraine get equal access to humanitarian aid. The Forum succeeded in bringing the dialogue between local CSOs and key humanitarian actors to a new level, ensuring the sustainability of the LGBTIQ movement in Ukraine.

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