Whats and Hows of Unit 2023

9 February 2023

Unit works with 10 countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, supporting publications on queer topics, connecting journalists and activists, and following the great work they do. Once monthly, we put together a selection of queer stories, opportunities, analysis and art to help you stay up-to-date with the ever-developing queer spaces without relying on social media algorithms. Check out this issue from December 2022 and subscribe below to get the next one right into your inbox.

At the moment, we are busy with finalizing arrangements for 2023. This year, instead of working with journalists and activists directly, we’ll partner with six media from three different regions, which have established local networks and editorial capacities. With their help, we plan to support creation of at least 27 materials in various genres, including long-reads, podcasts, video essays, and photo projects. For instance, Chai Khana Media, our partner for the South Caucasus countries, has already published the open call with further details.

Besides that, we plan to publish a selection of new stories in a special project both in print and online. We can’t wait! 

A slew of new translations

Six Unit-supported articles are now live in English on our website. Take a look and share with your friends who might be interested:

  • Co-organizer of KharkivPride Anna Sharyhina introduces four queer persons who stayed in Kharkiv after Russia attacked Ukraine. We also published outtakes from their stories on Instagram.
  • In an article originally ran by ThePage.ua, Oleksandra Zakharova describes life in Kherson during the ten months before the Ukrainian Armed Forces de-occupied the city in November last year. A part of the report is available on our Instagram page as well.
  • Nurbanu, a transgender woman from Tajikistan, tells the story of her gender transition, in a piece initially published on AsiaPlus.
  • Co-owner of a Ukrainian doughnut shop chain Sasha Zhyliaev talks to Oleksandra Horchynska of NV.ua about his work after the full-scale invasion, 50 thousand cabbage and potato pies for the military and IDPs, crowdfunding for LGBT soldiers, and the values war.
  • In the ASL series (originally put out by Sarpa Media), photographer Kamila Rustambekova shows her take on queerness through nude photos of five queer persons from Uzbekistan.
  • #ActivistsOfBelarus spoke to Belarusian activists about their lives and work before and after the mass protests of 2020-2021.

Gay men from Uzbekistan talk about life in the country, where sex between men is a criminal offense — Mediazona Central Asia

At the end of last year, a draft Information Code was posted for public discussion in Uzbekistan, which involved the prohibition of propaganda of same-sex relationships. It could further complicate the situation of LGBT people in the country, where same-sex conduct between men is still criminalized. Aziz Yakubov spoke with LGBT Uzbeks to find out whether there is any leverage to force the government to remove this article from the list of criminal offenses. 

The feminist movement in Eastern Europe: struggles in a changing landscape — OpenDemocracy

The feminist movement in Eastern Europe has radically changed in the past three years, having to adapt to war, conflict and the rise of the anti-gender movement. In response, women’s funds in Ukraine, Armenia, Poland, Georgia and Germany have been working together to assess the needs of women and girls through Feminist Landscapes – Civil Society Dialogue with All Voices. Lucy Martirosyan reports on the project’s findings. 

“God Burned Sodom and Gomorrah for Homosexuality, and the Guys Are Afraid That Mines Will Fall on Them Because They Are in the Same Subdivision as You”: Openly Gay Oleksandr Zhuhan About Serving in the Army — Zaborona

Oleksandr Zhugan is an openly gay man who, until February 24, could not imagine that he would one day pick up a weapon. Before the full-scale invasion, he worked as an actor in a theater and taught acting. But when the first Russian missiles fell on Kyiv, he and his partner decided to join Teroborona. Polina Vernyhor spoke with Oleksandr about what it’s like to be openly gay amidst war and why homophobia will not soon disappear from Ukrainian society.

“A busload of Ukrainian women defended me.” Artsiom’s story of being refugee twice over — Voice of Belarus

Artsiom is one of the thousands of Belarusians, who were forced to flee the Lukashenko regime’s repression and found a new home in Ukraine. Then he became a refugee for the second time because of the Russia’s invasion and took shelter in Poland. Read his story, told by Tatsiana Svirepa.

We’ll end on just a bit of self-promotion: our Project Manager Vika Biran is now a columnist of Belsat! In this text, Vika reflects on the means that can and should be used when fighting for the freedom of political prisoners in Belarus.

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