Posted on March 6, 2022

LGBTQ Refugees Fleeing Ukraine Face Discrimination in Countries With Anti-Gay Laws

Miranda Mazariegos, NPR, March 4, 2022

Late on Thursday night, Viktória Radványi, communications director for Budapest Pride, drove with her girlfriend to the border between Hungary and Ukraine. They were picking up four LGBTQ refugees and taking them back to Budapest to provide them with safe housing, food and mental health resources.


In Ukraine, many transgender women are unable to leave the country because their government IDs still mark them as male – and men are forced to stay and fight under the country’s conscription laws. Women also fight in Ukraine’s military, and people are not expelled for being gay or transgender, although they are not necessarily welcomed.

Many Ukrainians are fleeing to Poland and Hungary, and activists say they will face particular challenges there, since the European Union has condemned both countries for having anti-gay laws. In Poland, gay couples can’t marry, form civil unions or adopt children. In 2019, an opinion poll found that almost a quarter of Polish people believe that homosexuality must not be tolerated, and there are so-called “LGBTQ-free” zones across the country.

Julia Maciocha, an activist with Warsaw Pride in Poland, said her organization was quick to help refugees because it wanted to protect them from potential discrimination.


Machiocha believes that fear of potential discrimination will lead many LGBTQ refugees to leave Poland and Hungary after a few weeks or months. She said she thinks it’s likely they’ll move on to Western Europe, where the laws are friendlier. {snip}

Aaron Morris, from the U.S.-based, LGBTQ-rights group Immigration Equality, said this is a pattern he’s seen too many times before. LGBTQ refugees fleeing from Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan and Central America historically have been victims of attacks and discrimination.


He said this is an issue that requires support from governments like the United States, which could welcome LGBTQ refugees or ask that other countries keep them safe. {snip}