Despite a ban by a local court, about 30 most active representatives of the wide range of sexual minorities hold the first ever Equality March (Ukrainian Gay Pride) demonstration from the Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kyiv.
Dozens of buses with hundreds of policemen on bard have been parked along Victory Avenue, the venue of the event, an Interfax correspondent reported from the scene. Hence, the participants in the march are guarded by a line of buses on the one side and a fence on the other.
A banner saying ‘Munich Greets Sister-City Kyiv’ has been unfolded at the head of the column. Members of the Munich LGBT community are also taking part in the march. A lot of journalists are accompanying the demonstration.
“This can be considered a historic day as we were together and excited by our struggle for the rights of Ukrainian LGBT community,” Volodymyr Kiriiazi Ukraninian gay leader and one of the main organizers told foreign reporters after the activists held a 20-minute-long march along a street near the centre of the Ukrainian capital.
Witnesses noticed the sober dress of activists who were advised to wear comfortable clothes and shoes that would make their escape easier in the event of an attack by anti-gay protestors or the police.
“Human rights are my pride,” chanted the protestors that included delegations from Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
The peaceful protest was maintained by a heavy police presence surrounding the pro-equality demonstrators. The district court of Kiev made the ruling to ban the gay pride demonstration. The court upheld a lawsuit by city authorities, who had argued that the rally could cause disturbance to annual Kiev Day celebrations, and could set off violence in the city.
Several hundred police were present at the march, which brought together a little more than 50 people. Members of the sexual minorities of Munich were present.
Police detained more than 10 homophobes were during the event. The procession moved through Victory Avenue.
Organisers last year cancelled the event at the last minute, as anti-gay protesters gathered at the planned location for the rally, and had intended to attack participants. Subsequently, members of radical groups attacked two leading gay activists.
This news comes shortly after Amnesty International published a report urging the Ukrainian Government to introduce legislation to tackle discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, following a number of attacks.
Last week, a bill to protect gay Ukrainian workers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation was dropped by the country’s parliament, as hundreds of anti-gay protesters gathered to demonstrate against it. The Ukrainian foreign minister, Leonid Kozhara, promised in February that the country would soon ban all anti-gay discrimination in an interview with a Polish newspaper.
In a 2007 poll 5.7% of Ukrainians said that “gay lifestyles” were acceptable and only 4.7% of Ukrainians stated that they thought same-sex marriage in the country was a priority.
Leading international human rights organizations, among them Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Freedom House, also declared their support for the event. Munich’s mayor, Josef Monatzeder, expressed surprise at the absence of the mayor of Kyiv at a Gay Pride. Mr.Monatzeder, who was speaking in a program on Ukraine’s Fifth Channel television, said he was amazed at large numbers of police maintaining order during the March of Equality.
Munich is one of Kyiv’s twin cities and is a partner of the KyivPride 2013 series of sexual minority events.
Leading international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Freedom House support the events.