YouTube [VOA News]

KyivPride and Warsaw Pride will march together in Poland for the “peace and freedom” of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country earlier this year.

For months, Western officials reported that Russia was planning an invasion of Ukraine that could begin at any moment – something Vladimir Putin adamantly denied.

In the early hours of 24 February, however, Ukrainian officials stated that Russia had launched an all-out assault on the country, with troops crossing the border.

Since then, the world has seen the fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since the Second World War – with an estimated 10 million people having fled their homes in the country, according to the United Nations.

By the first week of April, more than 4.3 million of these had gone to one of the seven countries Ukraine shares a border with: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Belarus.

“Russia is taking away our homes, our families, our friends, and our loved ones, but it will never take away our freedom, our visibility, and our right to vote,” said Lenny Emson, the Director of KyivPride.

The organisation is partnering with Warsaw Pride this year as Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community is unable to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the country’s Equality March in Kyiv because of the war.

Around 7,000 people attended 2021’s event in Ukraine, with 2019’s 8,000 attendees marking the biggest turnout since the Equality March was initiated a decade ago.

Organisers of the march in Warsaw, which is taking place on 25 June, are hopeful that around 80,000 people will take part.

“On June 25 we are not celebrating,” Emson added. “We want to appeal to the whole world: Help Ukraine win! Help Ukrainian people live freely on their land!”

Julia Maciocha, the President of the Warsaw Pride, said that “community means standing up for others.”

“Community means making space for voices that are not heard enough,” she continued. “Community means marching side by side for safety and freedom of those who had it taken away. We are proud to join KyivPride in their march for the victory of Ukraine!”

The march is scheduled to take place on 25 June in Warsaw, Poland. More information can be found here.