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Ukrainian LGBT refugees plan to wed in UK

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A Ukrainian LGBT couple are due to be married in the UK a year after they fled the war with Russia.

Yulia and Tetiana, who have been together for 10 years, said they had wanted to tie the knot for a long time.

However same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are not recognised in Ukraine.

The couple have settled in Derbyshire and said they felt closer and more together than they could be back in Ukraine.

"We are going to do the only thing you can't do in Ukraine. We are going to get married," said Tetiana.

"Because we are a same-sex couple, here in Britain we are somehow closer and more together than we could be back in Ukraine.

"We are happy because we are alive and safe and together but it's a very bitter happiness.

"Every day we read the news, we check on our friends - are you alive, are you ok?"

The couple plan to hold a small ceremony at a register office in March.

Tetiana said they initially began planning their wedding several years ago.

"For Russian and Ukrainian [LGBT] people, the only possibility is to go abroad to be married," she said.

"If we were told two years ago we were going to get married in Great Britain, we would have said 'wonderful'.

"But the circumstances are so difficult and so different."

The couple, who worked as translators in Kiev, said they planned to donate money to Ukraine's war effort and hope, eventually, to return to their homeland.

Meanwhile, they have settled with a host family in Belper.

Sarah and Helen Barley-McMullen were put in touch with the couple after offering to give a home to LGBT refugees.

"They are amazing," said Tetiana, of her hosts.

"A year ago, it was unthinkable for us that the right people - with so much generosity and kindness - would help us.

"We are going to find a new home because our hosts are wonderful but we need to live in our own apartment. We are looking for work - right now we have some, we need more."

Sarah said she and her wife had offered Yulia and Tetiana a home because they feared LGBT refugees may face additional persecution.

"It's been so difficult for them," she said.

"For them to be here and not only feel safe from the war, but also feel safe as a same-sex couple, is more than I could ever have imagined."

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