The Michigan LGBTQ+ Community Center Network has issued a statement condemning Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The Network, which consists of 13 LGBTQ+ groups across the state, joined human rights organizations all over the world in calling on Russia to cease its invasion and occupation of an independent country.
“Russia is an extremely hostile place for LGBTQ+ people, and President Putin’s dangerous ploy to expand control into Europe is a threat to the safety and rights of the LGBTQ+ community everywhere, especially to our Ukrainian LGBTQ+ family at this time,” the statement read in part.
David Garcia, the executive director of Affirmations LGBTQ+ Community Center in Ferndale, said the Network came together to draft the letter for multiple reasons.
“Russia has continued to show a growing hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community and we fear for the lives and safety of LGBTQ+ Ukrainians should Russia occupy Ukraine,” Garcia told Pride Source. “Russia has created a humanitarian refugee crisis, and while every single human life is important and needs the entire world’s help, we felt that as leaders in the LGBTQ+ community we should draw particular attention to the suffering of LGBTQ+ refugees in this moment.”
OutCenter of Southwest Michigan Executive Director MaryJo Schnell agreed.
“LGBTQ+ people are everywhere, including in Russia and Ukraine, and Russia has a horrible, horrible record when it comes to the treatment of its citizens who are LGBTQ+,” said Schnell. “We wanted to show solidarity, in terms of people just being attacked. It’s something the LGBTQ+ community understands.”
In its statement, the Network included an ask for donations to Rainbow Railroad, a global nonprofit organization that helps LGBTQ+ people facing persecution in their home countries based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
“I personally worked with the Rainbow Railroad in my L.A. days as the policy director [of the Los Angeles LGBT Center] when we were trying to get LGBTQ+ people out of Chechnya,” Garcia said. “They work all over the world trying to help LGBTQ+ people safely relocate to countries less hostile.”
As for the Michigan LGBTQ+ Community Centers Network, it consists of the following organizations: Affirmations LGBTQ+ Community Center, Equality Michigan, Grand Rapids Pride Center, Great Lakes Bay Pride, Jackson Pride Center, Jim Toy Community Center, LGBT Detroit, OutCenter of Southwest Michigan, OutFront Kalamazoo, Out on the Lakeshore Community Center, Ruth Ellis Center, Stand with Trans and Transgender Michigan.
For more information on Rainbow Railroad, visit rainbowrailroad.org.