Police respond differently to pride marches in Ukraine and Russia
LGBT rights activists held Ukraine’s first pride parade today in Kiev. The march was held with police protection and despite a court ruling against it, Reuters reported. About 10 counter-protesters were arrested.
In contrast, police in Moscow arrested about 30 people — both gay-rights activists and their opponents — during an unsanctioned rally outside the parliament building.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported from Moscow:
The campaigners tried to unfurl banners denouncing a Kremlin-backed draft law banning “homosexual propaganda” in front of Russia’s lower house of parliament, but they were attacked by Orthodox Christian vigilantes. Police said at least 30 gay rights campaigners and their opponents were detained.
Among those reportedly arrested was Nikolai Alexeyev, the head of the Federation of Russian Homosexuals.
Of the Ukraine event, Reuters stated:
About 100 Ukrainian gay rights activists held the country’s first gay rally on Saturday, helped by police who arrested 13 people for trying to break up the march.
The activists walked for about 250 meters (yards) along Victory Avenue in the capital Kiev while Orthodox Christian activists nearby chanted slogans denouncing them.
“Ukraine is not America. Kiev is not Sodom,’ shouted one anti-gay demonstrator over a loudspeaker.
A church activist broke through the police cordon briefly and slapped down banners calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals before he was seized by police.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty also covered the Ukraine protest, putting the number of marchers at 50 and the number of arrests at 10. Its report stated the event was held “in support of human rights and to protest against the discrimination of gay people in Ukraine”:
The participants held rainbow flags and banners that read: “Homosexuality is not a disease.” They also chanted “Human rights are my pride.”
The crowd included a delegation from Munich. The German city’s mayor, Josef Hep Monatzeder, told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, that their presence at the march was “an act of solidarity.”
“I will meet the mayor [of Kyiv] but first I [will] join the pride [parade],” he said. “No, the mayor [of Kyiv] is not here, but the mayor of Munich is here. In the past we had a situation when especially conservative parties were against the pride [parade]. But now they join the pride [parade]. It’s very hard to speak with people like this, with aggressive people. But you have to show what human rights mean.”
Parliaments in both Ukraine and Russia are considering bills to outlaw “gay propaganda,” but neither has taken final action to enact such a ban.
Olena Semenova, one of the organizers of the Ukraine march, thanked the police and other officials for protecting the marchers.
“This event will go down in the history of Ukraine as one of the key developments in the fight for equal human rights,” Semenova said.
Church activist Ioksana Keresten, who protested against the rally, said: “We are trying to protect family values. We want to protect our children from homosexual propaganda. This parade popularizes homosexuality. It can influence our children for their whole life.”
At the end of the rally, the gay activists stepped into the grounds of a local film studio and climbed onto buses that drove them away, avoiding the risk of further confrontation.
- Dozens march in Ukraine’s first-ever gay rally (omaha.com)
- Ukraine lawmakers seek ban on gay pride parades (76crimes.com)
- Dozens March in Ukraine’s First-Ever Gay Rally (abcnews.go.com)
- Ukraine’s first gay march held under police protection (Reuters)