Bad news, good news in Ukraine Pride march, violence

Anti-LGBT protesters attack police who guarded LGBT marchers in Kiev on June 6. (Photo courtesy of Bogdan Globa via Facebook)
Anti-LGBT protesters attack police who guarded LGBT marchers in Kiev on June 6. (Photo courtesy of Bogdan Globa via Facebook)

Annotated excerpts from coverage of the Saturday, June 6, Pride march in Ukraine by BuzzFeed and the Washington Blade:

BAD NEWS: Nine police officers were injured during a LGBT “March for Equality” in Kiev on Saturday, after right-wing counter protesters attacked the event.

GOOD NEWS: Police deployed more than 2,000 officers to protect the event, which was canceled last year because the police said they would not protect participants. The Ministry of Internal Affairs said 25 people were arrested for “illegal actions” during the march.

The march was only the second LGBT Pride march to take place in the former Soviet republic since it gained independence in 1991.

GOOD NEWS: President Petro Poroshenko deployed more than 2,000 police officers to the march after nationalists threatened to disrupt it. The pro-European leader did not participate, but he told reporters on Friday that he supported it.

“I will not be taking part,” said Poroshenko, according to Agence France-Presse. “But I see no grounds for someone to try and disturb it, since this is the constitutional right of every Ukrainian citizen.”

GOOD NEWS: Ukrainian advocates with whom the Washington Blade spoke on Saturday said that up to 300 people participated in the march. They said two members of the Ukrainian Parliament, Swedish Ambassador to Ukraine Stefan Gullgren and a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev are among those who took part.

BAD NEWS: Ukraine’s LGBT rights record remains poor compared to other European countries, even though Poroshenko is seeking closer ties to Brussels.

A 2013 Amnesty International report indicates anti-LGBT discrimination and violence remain widespread in Ukraine. LGBT rights advocates last July cancelled a march that had been scheduled to take place in Kiev because local police refused to protect them amid threats from what they described as “ultra-right groups” and soccer hooligans.

Olena Shevchenko, co-chair of the Kyiv 2014 Pride organizing committee, told the Blade on Saturday that she opposed the “March for Equality,” which she described as a “closed format” event, because nationalists would have found out about it.

“I would prefer an open Pride in the center of Kiev,” said Shevchenko. BAD NEWS: “We see how it looks now: LGBT fighting with patriots. This is not the best picture for Ukraine’s European integration.”

BAD NEWS: Bogdan Globa [executive director of the Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group Fulcrum] told the Blade last June during an interview at PFLAG’s Washington offices … that the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which has declared itself independent from Kiev, has banned so-called gay propaganda to minors [following the lead of Russia]. He said members of a pro-Russian paramilitary group had also recently attacked those who attended a gay party at a Donetsk nightclub.

HelenGloba [a marcher and co-founder of Tergo, a support group for parents and friends of LGBT Ukrainians] said members of her group who live in eastern Ukraine remain afraid to travel because of the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops.

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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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