Ukraine has just held their first gay pride rally, despite official cancellation, in Kiev; with lawmakers attempting to ban any “pro-gay propaganda” demonstrations, it’s considered a milestone for Ukraine’s LGBT community.
“This event will go down in the history of Ukraine as one of the key developments in the fight for equal human rights. This can be considered a historic day,” organizer representative Elena Semyonova said in an interview with the AFP. “We felt like we were full-fledged citizens whose rights are respected.”
The parade lasted less than an hour and organizers advised the participants, of which there were fewer than a hundred, to dress comfortably, with no earrings or other accessories, as they had previously received criticism.
Out of concern for participants’ safety, the rally was originally canceled, as it was last year, for fear of riots. The rally received five hundred public complaints and sixty parliamentary lawmakers requesting a ban on all “homosexual propaganda” marches.
Thirteen people were arrested for breaking up the march, as many Orthodox Christian activists chanted slogans like “Ukraine is not America. Kiev is not Sodom” to discourage them.
“We are trying to protect family values. We want to protect our children from homosexual propaganda,” said church activist Ioksana Keresten in a press release. “This parade popularizes homosexuality. It can influence our children for their whole life.”
Ukraine’s current government is strongly pro-Russia, which opposes any form of said “homosexual propaganda.”
In 2007, only 5.7 percent of Ukrainians consider “gay lifestyles” acceptable, while 4.7 percent said they considered legalizing marriage equality to be a priority.
Russia and France also held their LGBT pride marches this week, but with a great deal of violence. In Russia, thirty activists were arrested, while 150,000 French anti-gay supporters attacked police and journalists for legalizing marriage equality.