About 1,500 people, guarded by
6,000 police officers, walked around a couple of blocks in the center of Kyiv
on June 12, some playing drums, blowing soap bubbles, and smiling. Participants
cheered and chanted: “Human rights is our pride,” “No to violence, yes to
rights,” and “Love is law.”

Pavlo Vesdenetskyi, an entrepreneur
from Kyiv, says he joined the event because “support for LGBT people is
important as a component of overall tolerance and mutual respect” in society.

“We in Ukraine lack respect for
each other. In general, and in terms of LGBT people in particular,” he told the
Kyiv Post. “People get bullied at work; there is propaganda of violence towards
them. It is not right.”

Bogdan Globa, head of the
All-Ukrainian Charitable Organization Fulcrum, a Kyiv-based NGO, and one of the
organizers of the march, said that discussions he had had previous to the rally
illustrated the situation with LGBT rights in Ukraine.


“People often ask, ‘Where are LGBT
rights being violated?’” he told the Kyiv Post. “But somehow part of society
thinks that LGBT people don’t have the right to rally peacefully, although this
is guaranteed by Ukraine’s Constitution.”

He was referring to a statement
made in May by Artem Skoropadskyi, press secretary for the ultra-nationalist
Right Sector organization, who in which he said the Kyiv Pride on June 12 would
be a “bloody mess,” and urged organizers
to cancel the event.

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Huge progress

Globa praised the strong attendance
of the event, adding that this year an unprecedented number of foreign
diplomats took part in the rally.

Andreas von Beckerath, who has
served as Sweden’s ambassador to Ukraine for the last three years, was one of

“It’s important that all people,
not only the majority of society, have the same rights and the same
opportunities,” he told the Kyiv Post. “Human rights have to be protected for


Ukrainian politicians also showed
up at the rally. Svitlana Zalishchuk, a lawmaker with the Petro Poroshenko Bloc
faction, said that this year rally could not be compared to the last year’s
one, which she also attended.

“Last year it was held in the
city’s outskirts, with a closed list of participants, with the activists
worrying that there would be no support from authorities,” she told the Kyiv
Post. “This year the registration for the event was public, and it was held in
the center of Kyiv. (Chief of the Ukrainian National Police) Khatia Dekanoidze
openly said that they would guarantee the security for everyone who came to the
rally. I see huge progress here.”

During the Equality March in Kyiv
last June a group of right-wing activists broke through the police cordon and
threw smoke grenades and fire crackers at the participants. Two police officers
were injured.

Peaceful protest

This year, the rally was held
without there being any serious incidents.

However, several dozen anti-gay
protesters gathered at the start point of the rally, holding posters reading “I
am against gay propaganda,” and citing the lines from the Old Testament that
condemn homosexuality. And some people watching the rally from the roadside
booed, showed their middle fingers, and shouted obscenities.


Then, after the fences protecting
access to the march route were taken down about 45 minutes after the parade,
anti-gay protesters came out onto the streets and started chanting “Death to
fags”, and “Death to the new Ukraine, long live Kyivskaya Rus.”

Another group started holding an
open microphone even for people to voice their anti-gay opinions. One of the
protesters said: “Today we’re protecting homosexuals, tomorrow it will be alcoholics
and pedophiles.”

However, they soon dispersed.

And even though there had been
threats of violence made against the Kyiv Pride participants, no one in attendance
seemed scared.

Singer and actress Kamaliya, who is
the wife of Kyiv Post publisher Mohammad Zahoor, said that she still hoped that
“wisdom will prevail.”

“I hope we will stop being a
barbarous society and will start accepting each other the way we are,” she told
the Kyiv Post.

Anton Ivanov, a civil activist with
the non-governmental Centre UA, said he did not plan to come to the event, but
changed his mind because of the threats.


“No matter what ideology you
support, but nobody has any right to beat someone up, to threaten and to
obstruct their right to rally peacefully,” he told the Kyiv Post. “I’m not a
member of the LGBT, community, but it’s my moral duty to speak out against

Police actions

When the rally was over, the crowd
applauded the police, thanking them for their support and protection.

However, not everyone was happy
with the police’s actions.

Andriy Kapranov, an entrepreneur
from Kyiv, said he also planned to join the Kyiv Pride to help its participants
“prevent the bloody mess” promised by the ultra-nationalists. He did not get the
chance to though.

He said that when he came to one of
the entrances to the rally, two men took him by the arms and, without identifying
themselves, led him to a police van. When the van was full with detained men,
who, like himself, had no idea why they were taken and by whom, they were taken
to the Desnyanskyi police department.

Police officers checked the
documents of the detained people and released them.

“As far as I understand, my rights
were violated – at a rally against violations of human rights,” Kapranov told
the Kyiv Post. “Now, if the goal of the event was to hold the rally, I have no
questions. If the goal was to fight for human rights, then what actually

The press officer of Kyiv police was not available for comment.


At a briefing after the rally,
Dekanoidze said that the police had worked professionally. She said the police had
detained 57 people, “who behaved aggressively.”

Kyiv Post staff writer
Alyona Zhuk can be reached at
[email protected].
Kyiv Post staff writer Alexandra Markovich contributed reporting to the story.

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