Ukraine Pride to make appearance at 50th anniversary London parade this weekend 1 month ago

Ukraine Pride to make appearance at 50th anniversary London parade this weekend

Exclusive: Fifty members of Ukrainepride to march in the capital

Ukrainepride will make history this weekend in its first ever appearance at London’s parade - though its members will not be "celebrating".

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Fifty members of Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ organisation will join the UK’s biggest pride event on Saturday as it marks its 50th anniversary, while Russia continues its assault on their homeland, killing their friends and family. Most members of the group who are attending the anniversary event have relocated to the UK since Russia began its invasion on February 24. 

In the four months since, millions of citizens have been displaced and thousands killed in a barbaric assault that has led to 200-300 war crimes being committed everyday. The LGBT+ community is particularly vulnerable, as its members face violence and harassment from both combatants and civilians, the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) has warned. Vladimir Putin's hatred of the queer community is well documented and there's fears that if he succeeds in Ukraine, LGBTQ+ rights will seize to exist in the country.

Celebrating pride is "impossible" in Ukraine right now, "first, we need to finish with the war", Ukrainepride's co-founder Yura Dvizhon told JOE.

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Yura Dvizhon, co-founder of Ukrainepride

Yura, 29, relocated to Paris, while his hometown Ternopil, a major city in western Ukraine, continues to be invaded. But he still has friends and family in Ukraine, and some of his fellow LGBTQ+ friends have been killed in the war. On Sunday, Russia struck Kyiv with 14 missiles, killing a person and injuring six. This was just 1km from the apartment where Yura used to live in the city. On Monday, Russia bombed a shopping centre, killing 16. 

While celebrations in London are expected to be a vibrant and colourful affair, Ukraine's LGBTQ+ organisation will take a more sombre approach to supporting it. It will definitely "look different", Yura explained.

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"We won’t wear any rainbow outfits. The war is still going on. The reason is not just to celebrate or demonstrate our happiness because we are not super happy. We don’t think that it’s good for us to wave rainbow flags and dance," he said, adding: "We’re definitely going to look a little bit different than other people who are going to celebrate. We want to show our message to visitors and remind them that the war is still going on in our country."

Yura said that while their celebrations will be more subdued, it will still be "peaceful and with big love".

Ukrainepride's rave outside the president's office in Kyiv last year (Photo: Ukrainepride)
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Details of the group's demonstration this weekend will be kept under wraps until the day, but Yura will be making a speech about the war and will join London Pride at other meetings and events this week. 

Yura and other members have been working for months to ensure LGBTQ+ voices continue to be heard amid the war. A video it recently created highlights what the queer community is doing now - with many working as doctors, volunteering or fighting on the front line to protect the people of Ukraine.

Speaking about the ongoing war and importance of Ukraine's pride movement this year, Yura said: “We have lost our gay friends. Many of our friends have lost their parents from Mauripol. Their houses, their jobs, there have been many, many losses during this time. 

“Everybody is thinking about their own lives and it’s totally ok, I understand that people can’t be sad all the time. But still we have to do something and talk about Ukraine and use any platforms. So, I’m happy London Pride were able to break the rules and let us be there and speak about Ukraine."

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