• Daria Dovzhenko | Communications Specialist

Lviv — A humble gray door of an old two-story building in Lviv hides a welcoming haven for the LGBTQIA+ community, where everyone is welcome. Here, they can get some help, socialize, and engage in creative activities. Taras, the regional coordinator of the organization Alliance Global, which established the shelter, faced social pressure and family rejection. Now, he does everything possible to support others. Taras has been working closely with IOM for several years. 

“It is difficult for our community members to come out of their bubble because you're always worrying about what other people would think. For most of those displaced by the war, finding a job and a safe place to express themselves was a challenge. We advise them on available assistance and help them find jobs or creative ways to move forward. IOM has helped a lot,” shares Taras.  

Taras communicates with the shelter residents daily. Photo: Daria Dovzhenko/IOM

Recognizing the community's vulnerability amidst the war, IOM has supported those in need, from collaborating with NGOs to providing direct support and raising awareness about social issues. This assistance is crucial, as according to IOM, 67 per cent of the LGBTQIA+ community members have received risky job offers at least once, and half of them are willing to accept them. 

“The LGBTQIA+ community continues to be prone to risk of violence, abuse and discrimination, including human trafficking. As humanitarians we need to equip and accommodate any individuals and groups to meet their basic needs, respect their rights, and include them in the programming for meaningful inclusive humanitarian response. The IOM Protection team continues to provide individual needs-based assistance, awareness-raising on available services and prevention of trafficking, ,” says Sjarijono Emmy Nurmila, IOM Protection Field Officer. 

IOM advocates for equal rights and opportunities for everyone and supports the LGBTQ+ community. Photo: IOM Ukraine

In addition to social issues, the LGBTQIA+ community members in Ukraine feel pressure due to the unresolved civil partnership issues that would legalize relationships and property rights. 

“Now, I feel that there is no equality for us. We walk the streets like everyone else, we work and pay taxes, yet our rights aren't the same. My partner won't even be able to stay with me in a hospital if something were to happen to me. These simple things that ordinary people don't think about are crucial to us,” says Taras.  

For the past year and a half, IOM’s MHPSS team has been organizing group and individual sessions with psychologists as well as creative art-based activities to improve the emotional well-being of the residents of the Lviv LGBTQIA+ shelter. 

IOM regularly conducts activities for the LGBTQIA+ community in Lviv. Photo: Daria Dovzhenko/IOM

IOM's comprehensive assistance also includes improving the living conditions of displaced people. A similar LGBTQIA+ shelter in Dnipro received household appliances and other necessary items to help people settle in a new place. This assistance was made possible thanks to the financial support from IOM partners. 

“Cooperation with international organizations is valuable; it’s an exchange of energy, and we see a great outcome. Despite all the difficulties, legislation is developing in Ukraine, and tolerance is rising. I see young progressive people, and their positive attitude toward our community gives hope for a better future,” concludes Taras.  

SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals