A GROUP of Ukrainian refugees is set to march in Edinburgh Pride to remember the LGBT+ Ukrainians being killed due to the Russian invasion.

Nick, a 22-year-old journalism student, escaped from eastern Ukraine and moved to Edinburgh as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Along with the volunteers from the group Help Ukraine Scotland - who assist refugees living in Edinburgh - Nick will march in the Pride parade to commemorate the LGBT+ Ukrainians fighting and dying in the Russian conflict.

Nick moved to Edinburgh in April after fleeing an area of Russian occupation.

He said: “I was really at risk of dying because Russian soldiers were taking young men and sending them to fight, even if they were Ukrainian.”

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Being LGBT+ only adds to the risk. In 2020, a survey found that one in five Russians wanted to “eliminate” gay and lesbian people from society.

However,while Nick said that Ukraine was much better for LGBT+ people, Russian aggression had led to more conservative attitudes.

“Russia is the most homophobic country in Europe and Ukraine, in comparison, has a lot of good LGBT+ organisations who protect our human rights and attend Pride every year.

“But Ukraine has had more problems with homophobia since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. Becoming a militarised society lead to more traditional values and more fighting against LGBT+ people and Pride.

“I worked for a year as a journalist for an LGBT organization in Ukraine. We had a situation where fascist radicals attacked our Pride. It was horrible.

“We ended up finding out the group that attacked us had connections to Russia.”

There are only a few other LGBT+ Ukrainian refugees living in Edinburgh but Nick felt it was important his country was represented at Pride.

When Nick decided he wanted Ukrainians to have a presence at the parade he tried contacting some youth groups to see if they could help him.

But one charity told him they could only offer him supplies to make a placard for the march because Pride was a “celebration”.

Nick said: “How can Pride only be a celebration when LGBT+ people in Ukraine are dying trying to protect our country? We deserve a place to remember the Ukrainian LGBT+ lives being stolen by Russia.

“These LGBT+ people are defending the rights of all LGBT+ Europeans. While people in Edinburgh will be celebrating Pride on Saturday, many LGBT Ukrainians will be sleeping in a warzone - we need to show them our support.”

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Nick and Help Ukraine Scotland will be handing out flyers and asking people to donate to charities which help LGBT+ people in Ukraine.

He added: “Living in Ukraine, it can sometimes be dangerous for people like me to hold their boyfriend’s hand walking down the street.

“But it feels so open in Scotland and it’s so cool to live somewhere where our human rights are respected”

The refugee group are also calling on people to bring Ukrainian flags to show their support

“It makes me happy to see Scottish people with Ukrainian flags, joining us, because it means solidarity with us." Nick said. 

“Scottish people have a history of fighting for their independence, so it means a lot when we see the same support shown to Ukraine.”