Ukrainians joining Warsaw Pride won’t stop fighting for LGBTQ+ people

Ukrainians at today’s Pride march in Warsaw say the ‘ghosts of war’ haunt their country (Picture: Getty Images)

Every one of the hundreds of Ukrainians who joined Warsaw Pride had their own war story.

The Polish capital’s population has swelled with people fleeing the war over the border to the east, some with little prospect of returning.

Many of them joined the LGBTQ+ march held in the city centre, an annual event which was re-tooled as part celebration, part anti-war protest in recognition of the brutal conflict raging just a few hours away.

The blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag was waved among the sea of rainbow colours filling the city streets and the day began with a chant of ‘Slava Ukraini’, the rallying cry of the independence movement.

Kyiv Pride’s director Lenny Emson implored the crowd to ‘march for us, show your solidarity’ and to ‘share our pain’.

Pieces of Warsaw’s scattered Ukrainian community found each other in the vast crowd, walking through the streets of their temporary home, a city which they are depthlessly grateful too but also dream of leaving.

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Participants of the WarsawPride and KyivPride parade hold flags of Ukraine (C) and the Rainbow Flag during a march through the streets of Warsaw, Poland, on June 25, 2022. - Due to the war in Ukraine, the Kyiv march can't take place in the usual format. Therefore, LGBT+ Ukrainians join the march in Warsaw and will demonstrate together with the Polish participants for peace and freedom of Ukraine. (Photo by Wojtek Radwanski / AFP) (Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Pride couldn’t be held in Kyiv this year, but that didn’t stop the Ukrainian people taking a stand (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
Organisers expected 80,000 people to attend this year’s event in the Polish capital (Picture: Getty Images) editor Richard Hartley-Parkinson flies the flag in Warsaw today (Picture:

Marisya Dranomyrova, 21, is draped in her flag. She says: ‘I left on February 13 before the war started because we knew something was going on.

‘I’m going home in two weeks, I’m so homesick. There’s no bombing in Kyiv now but I know that in a couple of months there could be again.

‘But I’m just too homesick. This a common thing among Ukrainians, many have returned home because of it.

‘I will be one of them too soon and I’m excited about it. I know I will be scared but being safe is nothing without home.’

Some carried placards to raise awareness of the plight of the fighters captured while defending the Azovstal steel plant.

Each of the Ukrainians who’ve joined today’s ceremonies have their own stories to tell about the devastation in their country (Picture: AP)
The annual event has been re-tooled as part celebration, part anti-war protest (Picture:
The parade in Warsaw is the largest of its kind in central and eastern Europe (Picture: Getty Images)
Warsaw Pride is hosting Ukrainian activists who are unable to gather in their own country because of the constant threat of shelling (Picture:

Mariupol’s defenders held out until the bitter end while the rest of the ruined city fell under the control of Kremlin troops. In just a few days, they face execution.

Anna Ariabinska carries hers above her head for the TV cameras and journalists to see.

She said: ‘Today is an opportunity to tell the world about them and raise awareness.

‘The father of my children was living Mariupol when war broke out, he has been deported to the Russian Federation.’

Despite the horror, she is hopeful. Asked if she thinks she or her family will be able to go to the captured city again, she responds: ‘Of course.’

Maryna Muzychenko is from Zhytomyr. Hours before she hit the streets of Warsaw with a sign dedicated to the Azovstal fighters, 24 missiles were fired on her hometown.

Her family, she says, are safe but fear pervades the home she has been forced to leave.

The 24-year-old said: ‘Everyone is scared, there are so many explosions. It’s so unfair, I want justice, I can’t stand it anymore people are constantly nervous.’

People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

LGBTQ+ people in both Poland and Ukraine face conservative attitudes towards sexuality and gender identity (Picture: AP)
The streets of Warsaw were filled with Ukrainian and Pride flags today (Picture:

Yevhenila Kachanova, 27, told ‘On February 24, I picked up my bags and left Kyiv. I went home two weeks ago and the ghosts of war are still everywhere.

‘It’s in the atmosphere, it’s all anyone talks about. It’s not fear – it’s anger and wanting to fight what is happening.

’More than a dozen of Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ organisations were present in Warsaw, forbidden from gathering in their home country because of the strict martial law still in place.

Tamara Khrustalova, from the support group Insight, was among them. She said: ‘I left Kyiv for Lviv and we can’t return yet, it is still dangerous. The was is not going to be over in a few weeks or months.’

She continued: ‘I think in times of war, the challenges for LGBTQ+ are much the same as before, they just become worse.

‘You can still be beaten or humiliated if you are openly gay. This is what we are here to fight for – a society where everyone is able to make their own choices.’

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