Violence, arrests disrupt gay-rights protest in Ukraine

Arrest during Kiev protest on Dec. 8. (Photo courtesy of LB.ua)
Arrest during Kiev protest on Dec. 8. (Photo courtesy of LB.ua)

Six LGBT-rights protesters and several counter-protesters were reportedly arrested today in Ukraine during a gathering to celebrate International Human Rights Day.

The theme of the 100-person protest in Kiev was “Say NO to Legislative Violence against Human Rights,” which focuses on a bill before the parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) that would prohibit “gay propaganda.”

The bill would also ban the import, manufacture and distribution of products that “promote” homosexuality.  Opponents of the bill say that, because it does not define “propaganda,” it would lead to arbitrary interpretation; abuse and sanctions against the media, civil society activists and human rights defenders; censorship; and institutionalized homophobia.

Kiev protest on Dec. 8. (Photo courtesy of LB.ua)
Kiev protest on Dec. 8. (Photo courtesy of LB.ua)

The LB.ua website of the Left Bank weekly reported that counter-protesters sprayed tear gas in protesters’ faces and tore up protesters’ signs. It said a total of  seven people were arrested.

LGBT rights advocates said several people were beaten during the protest.

An administrative court in Kiev had rejected a request from the gay-rights group Insight for permission to hold the rally. The court said the gathering could threaten national security and public order.

Campaign organizer Elena Shevchenko said activists had filed a request for a different rally location after their first request was rejected, according to Ukraine Pravda.

She said counter-protesters were quickly released after their arrests, but arrested protesters were not.

Gay Star News reported, “Shevchenko, the head of Ukraine’s main LGBT charity, Insight, has been arrested and awaits court appearance on 13 December.”

The Svidomo journalism website reported that, according to the police report, “the activists were not arrested but were invited to clarify the circumstances of the conflict and their identities.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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