Pride parades have now been banned in Crimea due to Russia’s anti-gay laws.
A march had been planned for April 22-23, but authorities in Sevastopol canceled it on the grounds that such festivities are in violation of Russia’s ban on gay propaganda, marking the first time Crimea has been subjected to Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.
Though 97 percent of the main populace in Crimea—then the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, now called the Crimean Federal District—voted in favor of seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, the issue was much more polarizing among LGBT citizens.
According to Gay Star News, Crimean resident Maxim Kornilov said in an email to NBC News, “Before Russian occupation it was really complicated to be a gay in Ukraine, that’s why I’m still in a closet and feel trapped.
“Now it’s absolutely unbearable.”
On April 11, the Crimea Republic State Council adopted a new constitution. Though many were afraid it would explicitly define marriage as a heterosexual union between one man and one woman, the final version left out any such language. Though there is no explicit protection of LGBT rights, part 2 of Article 13 says that the Crimean Federal District promises its citizens equal rights.
According to The New Republic, in 2013 a GFK Ukraine study found that 80 percent of the population had negative views of the LGBT population, at least 8 percent more than in 2012—likely due at least in part to neighboring Russia’s increasingly anti-gay views.
Another 2013 poll, by the State Sociology Institute and Gay Alliance NGO, found that 63 percent of Ukrainians surveyed considered homosexuality to be a mental illness or perversion, and only 9 percent were in favor of marriage equality.
In countries such as Russia and Uganda where homophobia was already very pervasive, governmental condemnation of the LGBT community has repeatedly led to a considerable increase in homophobia-motivated hate crimes, leading Ukraine’s LGBT community to fear a continuation of the pattern.