OutRight LGBTIQ Ukraine Emergency Fund

The Fund's Impact

Why We Have Taken Action

On February 24, OutRight launched a Ukraine Fund because, in times of crisis, LGBTIQ people face higher risks. At best we are left behind in humanitarian relief efforts due to lack of cultural competency, and at worst we are excluded because of systemic discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Put bluntly, in a large-scale emergency, our LGBTIQ community simply cannot count on mainstream systems for help. Yet they too need food, water, transportation, safe shelter, access to social support, competent medical care, and access to hormone therapies and HIV medication.  

As soon as the Russian war on Ukraine began, OutRight’s partner organizations in Ukraine and surrounding countries reached out to us for help.  As the invasion worsens, displaced LGBTIQ people are fleeing Kyiv and the eastern part of the country, forced to migrate to rural areas and to the west - including to other EU countries. According to UNHCR, 10 million Ukrainians have already fled their homes - a quarter of the total population. Many who have stayed are sheltering in basements with little or no access to running water, power, heating, medical care, or mobile phone service, often in freezing temperatures. The situation is especially grim for men between the ages of 18-60 who are not permitted to leave the country, BIPOC LGBTIQ people who may encounter racist border patrols, and for trans and nonbinary people, who are being denied the right to flee and are compelled into military service because their IDs do not match their gender identity or expression. The brutal reality is that LGBTIQ organizations in Ukraine and surrounding countries require immediate and sustained financial support to meet the needs of LGBTIQ people turning to them for life-saving help. 

Activists across the region are also concerned about protecting the lives and rights of LGBTIQ people, since Russia has a long track record of targeting and persecuting human rights defenders and of state-sponsored homo- and transphobia. In addition, many neighboring countries where refugees from Ukraine are fleeing have seen rising hate toward LGBTIQ people and opposition to advancing rights. LGBTIQ activists report that they fear a growing backlash through Eastern Europe and in Russia that could lead to further backsliding on rights, and threaten the very existence of the LGBTIQ movement in the region.

In these articles, you can learn more about the growing crisis for LGBTIQ people in and fleeing Ukraine and how activists are responding: OpenlyThemopenDemocracy, Time, and in a Vanity Fair article penned by OutRight’s Senior Fellow for Emergency Research.

How We Are Helping

OutRight is determined to assist LGBTIQ people remaining in or fleeing Ukraine in their fight to survive this brutality. We are also determined to support the LGBTIQ people and groups in the region who are coming to their aid while facing severe discrimination in their own countries. We know the need is deep and it will continue for months - and potentially years - to come. 

Through the end of April 2022, 100% of donations to OutRight’s Ukraine Fund are being disbursed directly to local LGBTIQ partners supporting our community in Ukraine and neighboring countries. Contributions are providing emergency assistance to LGBTIQ people who need safe shelter, food, competent medical care, transportation for those who are fleeing, and other types of humanitarian support. Beyond this initial time frame, OutRight will continue to support LGBTIQ organizations that remain in Ukraine and those supporting LGBTIQ refugees. We will also expand grantmaking to LGBTIQ groups throughout the region that will face long-term resource constraints as a result of the war, and that face increased backlash and repression in the face of rising populism and authoritarianism. A small portion of the funds will support OutRight’s own work in the region, including administering grants, the documentation of human rights abuses, data collection and reporting, and advocacy - including at the United Nations - to queer humanitarian systems.  

Because of generous supporters like you – as of April 19, OutRight has already distributed more than USD $715,000 to 32 local partners in Ukraine and surrounding countries that are delivering humanitarian aid to LGBTIQ people. The large majority of grants have been to organizations in Ukraine. Here are a few reflections and updates from partners who have received grants thus far:

"We are ready to provide people with everything they need: accommodation, food, medical care, psychological support, if necessary, ARV or hormone therapy. We will do our best to support our peers who had to leave their houses because of war."

"Your involvement is empowering and inspiring - now we know for sure that we are not alone."

"I would like to thank you and OutRight Action International for offering to help. It is valuable for us at this moment. We survived another night….we are alive and that’s what matters!"

"It is very difficult to predict how much food will cost soon under partial Russian siege of the city. But we hope your support will help us to survive."

"Ukrainian LGBT+ people have been suffering for two weeks now from this war. The office of our organization, where 4 people lived, was attacked twice, our friends/colleagues were beaten, robbed and subjected to severe psychological pressure. I think the LGBT+ community will be at the top of the list of the most vulnerable groups under Russian occupation. Our task now is to survive and protect our land. After the war, we will definitely return to our daily work – to promote LGBT+ rights to make our country a better place."

"Thank you for your help in such a difficult time, we appreciate it and express gratitude from the trans* people of Ukraine. For the second week now, we have been using the funds of OutRight Action International to help, and this is very timely. In addition to direct financial assistance to trans people's bank cards, we also help pay for mobile communications, food, water and hygiene products, all that is still left in our stores."

Fund Supporters

So far, nearly 7,000 people from over 60 countries have contributed to OutRight’s Ukraine Fund, along with partners such as MacKenzie Scott & Dan Jewett, Looking Out FoundationTogether RisingUkraine DAOSumOfUsGrindr 4 Equality@reli3fxyzGiveOut, Horizons Foundation, Capital Group, Zalando, Antidote Magazine, DWF Law Foundation, and countless others.  

OutRight is moved by the global outpouring of support and care for LGBTIQ people in Ukraine and the region. We are equally moved by the strength, courage, resilience, and kindness of LGBTIQ people in Ukraine and surrounding countries that are helping each other survive this horrific situation. On behalf of all those that benefit from your generosity, we thank you. 

 

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