Fleeing Ukraine, LGBTQ refugees face countries' anti-gay laws and discrimination LGBTQ people have always been under stress in Ukraine. As they flee their country, they're arriving in places that are even more punitive to their community.

LGBTQ refugees fleeing Ukraine face discrimination in countries with anti-gay laws

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SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

LGBTQ Ukrainians are among the 1 million people fleeing their country. They're trying to escape the war. But many of them are arriving in countries with anti-gay laws, places like Poland and Hungary. And as NPR's Miranda Mazariegos reports, activists fear they may face serious discrimination.

MIRANDA MAZARIEGOS, BYLINE: Viktoria Radvanyi is the communications coordinator for Budapest Pride, an organization in Hungary that's helping LGBTQ refugees find food, shelter and mental health resources. She's in a car as she and her girlfriend drive four Ukrainian refugees to a safe house.

VIKTORIA RADVANYI: We are not like a humanitarian organization. We don't have those kind of resources to be able to help, you know, huge amounts of people. What we do is that we are in contact with LGBTQ organizations in Ukraine, and we are asking them, how can we help? How can we be useful to you?

MAZARIEGOS: But their efforts have been met with some hostility. As soon as Budapest Pride published a call for help on its Facebook page, writers and other media sites responded with hateful comments, including sites that she suspects are run by the government.

The European Union has taken action against both Hungary and Poland for their anti-gay laws. Hungary's laws link homosexuality and transgender identity with pedophilia. And Poland has so-called LGBTQ-free zones. Activists are taking things into their own hands because they don't think they can trust their governments to keep LGBTQ people safe.

AARON MORRIS: It is an unfortunate pattern that is very common for LGBTQ refugees to be singled out for mistreatment.

MAZARIEGOS: Aaron Morris is with the U.S.-based group Immigration Equality. He says transgender people and gay people are some of the most vulnerable populations of refugees.

MORRIS: Often, when they flee through another country in hopes of getting to a place where they will feel safe, they are ostracized. They don't have the same access to family support, to often religious-based support that other minorities might.

MAZARIEGOS: Activist groups across Europe are currently working together to offer transportation and housing options for these refugees and possibly to move some of them to countries in Western Europe that are more LGBTQ-friendly.

Miranda Mazariegos for NPR News.

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