LGBT’s heavily-guarded parade in Kiyv

They marched between two cordons of riot police, but this was not enough to stop the attack of anti LGBT extremists. The gay pride parade in Kiev showed how far Ukraine still has to go.  

It was the first gay parade in the history in Ukraine endorsed by a president, and it’s not a chicken feed. Perhaps, it was also the first gay parade which saw the policemen deployed on the sides and not in front. Yet, to want at all costs to see the glass half full, there’s the risk to be overwhelmed by an unwarranted optimism. Because LGBT rights march that took place Sunday in Kiyv underlined how post-Maidan Ukraine is still fragile.

The scene that presented itself on the riverside of Kiev already spoke for itself, even before the arrival of thugs. A small colorful and noisy procession between two wings of riot police. Just over 200 on the one hand, something like 2 thousand other. It means that today in Ukraine it takes 10 policemen to defend a homosexual who peacefully demonstrates for his rights as citizens. It is not enough either. Because then the result of the clashes with homophobes and extremists was 25 arrests, 9 policemen and 8 activists injured.

The march paraded for around 500 meters. A depressing metaphor of how far Ukraine has come on the path of human rights and democracy.

Few and brave

"Incredibly brave people, marching for LGBT rights in the face of violence and hatred," Maxim Tucker, The Times journalist and eyewitness of the fighting tweeted. But that’s the point. Demonstrate for human rights today in Ukraine is still a matter for brave people. Just like a year and a half ago, during Euromaidan and under Yanukovich.

The police has not lost his touch. Despite the breath of fresh air in the militia barracks, we’ve seen broken heads, arrested people who continued to be beaten while lying on the ground and batons swirling in the air.

And then there was the people. Who looked with contempt those two hundred brave people, those who said that there is no need of this kind of parades in Ukraine, those who "I have nothing against them, but ...". Who is acquainted with Ukrainian knows that it is a substantially homophobic country. No more and no less than Russia or Lithuania, for instance. A problem shared, some might say. Except that one day you talk to a friend of yours who you know is smart and educated and he or she asks you “why you always talk about gays in Europe?”

Who does not want gays

Behind violence may be the hand Pravy Sektor, one of the most active forces of Euromaidan. The extremist and nationalist organization announced days before they want to stop the march. Violents who attacked the parade did not wear any distinguishing marks of Pravy Sektor, but many wore T-shirts with nationalist symbols and slogans and shouted “Die, pederasts. Glory to Ukraine”. Even a bunch of hooded men, all wearing the same black t-shirt with the inscription "Smerch" made a quick appearance.

Pravy Sektor denied that its members have participated in the violence, while continuing to support a line of open hostility against the LGBT community. A bit too little to dispel the doubts about its role. Enough to interpret the thoughts of many Ukrainians.


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