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Greetings from Ukraine

Warm congratulations on the 20th anniversary of LSVD, which I know from history was founded in Leipzig in 1990. Actually, as it happened, in that same year I served not far away in Torgau on the Elbe River -- as an ordinary conscripted soldier in a garrison of Soviet-era troops. At that time the Soviet Union by law pursued criminal prosecution against men for engaging in consensual sexual contact. No information was obtainable about homosexuality in the controlled media and for a young person such as I, even the thought of my being “different” was terribly distressing to me. I imagine many young people in DDR or FRG had feelings similar to mine twenty years ago.

But since then in Germany you have achieved huge positive changes we can all appreciate in solidarity today. We see and are encouraged by seeing how equality for lesbian and gay people has improved in your country on legislative, political and social levels. I was fortunate to visit Berlin several times, so I know of these exemplary improvements first-hand from political discussions during Christopher Street Day as well as from socializing with local gay bar patrons. These improvements are signal results that have been made to happen in Germany (and in other Western European countries) by like-minded LGBT activists during the last two decades.

Nonetheless we in Eastern Europe still have a long way to go to achieve a comparable level of development regarding civil society, freedoms, equality and respect for the rights of minorities. We are heartily encouraged, because we not only see the examples you have set and achieved, but we are well aware too that we are the recipients of your real help and actual support where it counts.

For our part, ten years ago we started our Ukrainian organisation, Nash Mir (Our World) Gay and Lesbian Center, based in Kyiv. For those who are interested to know more about the situation of lesbians and gay men here, our history, and our NGO and other work, consider this an invitation to visit. (http://gay.org.ua/en_index.php)

Again, my congratulations to you upon LSVD's twentieth anniversary,

Andriy Maymulakhin
Nash Mir, Coordinator
14 February 2010
Kyiv, Ukraine