Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought to the fore heartwarming stories of courage shown by ordinary Ukrainians. Now, a report in The Israel Hayom has revealed details about Ukrainian LGBTQI activists finding Russian soldiers hiding in their office in Kharkiv. 

The Israel Hayom , a widely distributed newspaper in Israel, said the information about the encounter was provided to them by Ukrainian LGBTQI activist Viktor Pylypenko.

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Pylypenko told Israel Hayom that the Russian soldiers had taken refuge in a basement office in Kharkiv last week. It was not clear if the Russian soldiers were lost or were escaping the Ukrainian resistance. The soldiers did not realise that the basement was being used as the office of the LGBTQI group. 

A Tyrannical, Homophobic Enemy

According to Pylypenko, the activists beat up the soldiers and captured them. Pylypenko told the newspaper that LGBTQI people were also fighting against the Russians. “We are confronting a tyrannical, homophobic enemy,” Pilipank said. 

Pylypenko, an army veteran, said he had rejoined the Ukrainian military last week to defend his country from the invading Russians. 

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Earlier, this month the US had warned the United Nations that Russia had prepared a “kill list”, which included names of LGBTQI activists. 

A US intelligence official had said that the list includes “journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.” Russia could subject the individuals on the list to “targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, detentions, and the use of torture.”

Same-sex relations are legal in Ukraine, but LGBTQI people still face challenges in the country despite increasing visibility in recent years. The community has been organising Pride marches for around a decade. Ukraine has initiated progressive law reforms in 2015, including an anti-workplace discrimination law and the passing of laws to make it easier for trans people to transition.

 

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