LGBT World Beside and RusLGBTIQ arranged a Kerstborrel on December 17, 2022. About 50 asylum seekers and refugees from various post-Soviet countries gathered in the Goethe-Institut in Amsterdam to spend time together and play board games (Bingo, Mafia or Weerwolven, Uno, etc.). We are very thankful to Goethe-Institut for providing us with their amazing space. Without it, this event would not be possible.  

The event started at 14:00 and lasted until about 18:00, after which we had a walking tour of some historical locations of Amsterdam and saw some artworks from the Amsterdam light festival. Thanks to the small donations of our individual donors, we were able to provide lunch and about ten tickets for the participants arriving from the various AZC locations.  

A journalist from NPO Radio 2 visited us and interviewed several participants of the event. We believe it is essential to increase the visibility of Russian LGBT people in the Netherlands, especially after the Kremlin-sanctioned homophobic policies, the last of which prohibits the public expression of any neutral or positive stance concerning the LGBT community. 

Besides similar homophobic experiences, LGBT asylum seekers and refugees from post-Soviet countries share a common cultural identity. Notably, almost all LGBT people from these countries know well Russian language. The common identity and knowledge of the Russian language make the interaction of LGBT people from post-Soviet countries easy and friendly. Such interaction, especially for those who arrived in the Netherlands recently, provides Russian-speaking LGBT refugees and asylum seekers support and comfort during one of the most challenging periods of their lives. Therefore, we are intended to arrange such events regularly.

We specifically thank Wolfgang Schreiber, who helped us to connect with the Goethe-Institut and accompanied us during the whole event. Special thanks also to Neil van der Linden, who guided our tour, despite the cold weather.