So far, more than 2 million Ukrainians have fled their country in just two weeks. Among several companies offering assistance to Ukrainians is a gay dating app based in Germany and the Netherlands called Romeo. Romeo, which is similar to Grindr with its geo-location-based grid of users, created a group called “Shelter For Ukraine,” where users can offer LGBTQ-friendly shelter for displaced Ukrainians.
The Russian invasion has been particularly scary for Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community because of Russia’s abysmal record on gay rights, including its 2013 law against “gay propaganda” that has been used to jail gay rights groups. But many fleeing Ukraine have made their way to Poland, named one of the least gay-friendly countries on the continent by ILGA-Europe, where hundreds of provinces and towns declared themselves “LGBT-free” until the EU threatened to cut off their funding last year.
Romeo’s group, which offers shelter for Ukrainians, has so far amassed over 10,000 members. People in Poland, France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, London, and the Netherlands have offered up their homes. “I have a spare room and a living room with an extendable couch. I think I can squeeze a family in here,” one person from Croatia wrote in the forum, “I would be more than happy to help!”
“There has been such an outpouring of support and solidarity for the people of Ukraine,” a spokesperson for Romeo told Fast Company. “We saw hundreds of offers of shelter in the first hours, people opening up their homes in order to help. “
The forum also received a handful comments from users who “do not see the point of this” since men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine. The company says its intention is not solely to help men flee the country—although some have been able to—but also to help their parents, sisters, children. “We know there are a lot more offers than there are people taking them,” said the spokesperson, who adds that the company plans to keep the initiative going as long as the community can help. “That is why we are hoping to spread the word, so all people—older people, women, and children—can avail themselves of the offers.”