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Ukraine invasion is a violent action against queer rights everywhere

Ukraine invasion is a violent action against queer rights everywhere

Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay,queer,disabled I started QueerAF to fund queer media careers. Will you join our movement?

The Russian regime has made no secret of its prejudice against a broad spectrum of queer identities. Their invasion of Ukraine has shocked the world.

Before this aggressive invasion even took place, there were already scary reports. Plans to target LGBTQ people, who Russia defines as "dissidents," were leaked. - NBC

A letter from the US to the UN warned Russia has a list of “journalists, activists and gay rights advocates.” They could be "killed" or "sent to camps'' after the invasion of Ukraine, it claimed. All in all, the letter states, the invasion will be a “human rights catastrophe.” - The Guardian

Russia denies this is their plan. It denied it was planning a war in Ukraine too. The community are now living in fear, at the prospect of Russian occupation. - Openly

While LGBTQIA+ one activist in Ukraine told me the community have been warned to take extra caution online, by hiding their identity and deleting dating app accounts.

I am not the first person to recognise some of the scary parallels between this moment and some of the events of World War II. Despite the huge contextual differences, many are looking on with alarm at a conflict that seems all too familiar.

But as a reporter, I haven’t forgotten the weeks of stories of targeted killings, kidnappings, and torture of our community in Russia in 2019. This is just the next step from a regime that holds such contempt for our lives, and the lives of many others.

Russian 'Gay purge' began years ago

In Russia, there are 'formidable barriers' to our community enjoying their fundamental rights. - HRC

The country’s 'gay propaganda' law bans children from being shown content about our lives. It's used as a de-facto ban on discussing queer life.

The horrors of the 'gay purge' in Chechnya stand out as the most frightening events in recent Russian history. This violent genocidal attack on our community began years ago.

The authorities in Chechnya, a region in South-Western Russia, began kidnapping, torturing and killing LGBTQIA+ people in 2019. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov was left unchecked as our community, and the world, watched in horror. And worse, it had happened once before in 2017 too. - Amnesty

We do not know how many were killed. We only know about the terror because of those who escaped. Thank goodness for the tireless Russian LGBT network and Rainbow Railroad who saved so many.

Violence against Ukrainian LGBTQIA+ people is violence against us all

This action by Russia is an attack on democracy. Given we’ve only won what rights we have thanks to democracy, it's an attack on all of us.

I’ve had many conversations with editors, in both gay and non-gay newsrooms, about why taking an LGBTQIA+ perspective on 'news that affects all of us' matters. "Why is it different for you?" - it's important we examine this each time.  

Our unique community is disproportionately hit by local, national and global events.

It's a sweeping statement, and so with each scenario, it's crucial to explore the individual complexities and intersectionalities at play.

Anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment is rising the world over. Our rights are debated for clicks in UK newspapers daily as a tool to generate distraction and revenue.

Our rights are fragile - and it’s still a very recent historical development that we won any rights at all. But there si a reason these moments are scary to queer people the world over. When the world is in crisis, history has shown us, it's those who are different that suffer.

We can only hope that the leaked plans will not come to fruition. I take great hope in the very fact that, despite what it often feels like, the majority of people support us. They support democratic values and the rights of queer people.


Evidence suggests the Russian state intends to target LGBTQIA+ people, "killing" or creating "camps" for those who defy them.

The invasion by Russia is not just an attack on Ukraine but on democratic rights the world over. Our thoughts this week are with all Ukrainians, but especially the LGBTQIA+ community.

This article was just one part of our weekly newsletter that summarises, understands and explains the news of the week:

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Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:

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