Police tightly guarded the thousands of Ukrainian LGBTs and Allies marching in Kiev
Thousands of LGBTs and allies marched for gay rights in the Ukraine’s gay pride parade today in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Despite the large police presence, the atmosphere was calm and powerful.
“Not paying attention to threats I received on social media, I went to the pride to celebrate diversity and to answer to all negative messages with the strongest weapon in the world LOVE,” Mykhailo Komadovskyi, 18, an openly gay Ukrainian journalist who participated in the pride march told OutBuzz. “I love my boyfriend, I love my country and I hope I will be able to feel free here in Ukraine.”
“Some aggressive people found my pictures from Pride on Facebook,” Mykhailo explained to us about the threats he received. “After that they found my boyfriend’s account and started sending us messages. Threats like: ‘We will come and kill you in the way you like, Mr. Faggot.'”
Although Mykhailo typically laughs off such threats, he says that online threats sometimes have real-life consequences. “On the other hand they can try to find me in real life,” he continued. “One day my friend was hunted by these crazy aggressive guys. As a result he was hospitalized for a month. I don’t want the same to happen to me just because I’m gay.”
Marchers waived rainbow flags and held signs in Ukrainian and English demanding “equality for all,” and to “stop the hate.”
“Here in Ukraine the LGBT community is pretty huge, but a massive part of Ukrainians don’t want to accept us as we are, thinking as typical post-soviet people: ‘Being gay is being sick,'” Mykhailo explained. “But every year more and more members of Ukrainian society accept human right and rights of homosexuals. With every single pride we reach to the target of being Europeans step by step. So see you next year at KyivPride!”
This is the second major pride march held in the Ukraine after a pro-Western government that came to power after the 2014 revolution sanctioned gay pride events.
Anti-Gay counter-demonstrators clashed with Police
Close by few hundred ultranationalists staged a counterdemonstration, which resulted in scuffles with police.
Two officers were injured and six people arrested according to Kiev police chief Andrei Krishchenko.
Security at the march was extremely tight and ended peacefully
Although the government permitted the gay Pride march, the Ukranian people, like in neighboring Russia, harbor a negative attitude towards gays and LGBT rights.
To protect the marchers, the route of the parade was changed at the last minute to head off clashes. Large swaths of downtown Kiev were closed off.
About 2,500 attended the march, while 5,000 police officers were on duty to protect them, Kiev police spokeswoman Oksana Blishchik wrote on Facebook. That’s two police officers per protester. This was necessary to protect marchers from the attacks by fervently anti-gay ultranationalists.
“I want to express special gratitude to National Police of Ukraine. They did their best to guard all of participants of this great holiday of human rights,” Mykhailo added.
The ultranationalist group Right Sector had warned the day before that their supporters would ensure the march ended in a “bloodbath.”
Although the march ended with no civilian incidents, previous gay pride rallies in Ukraine have ended in violence. In 2015, officials pulled the plug on a gay pride march after right-wing activists pelted participants with smoke grenades.