Ukrainian capital’s first ever gay pride was canceled on Sunday, May 20 amid fears of attacks from far right thugs. Police advised pride organizers to abandon the march through the center of Kiev just 30 minutes before it was due to start, claiming 500 ultra-right football hooligans were en route to the rally point with the intention of preventing the event from going ahead.
Two activists were beaten up and tear gassed by a dozen youths in central Kiev after those already gathered for the march were evacuated with police escort.
Human rights group Amnesty International called on Ukrainian authorities to take action to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and ensure they are able to exercise their human rights without fear of attacks.
Max Tucker, Ukraine campaigner at Amnesty International, said: ‘It has been clear from the start that the Kiev police department did not want this march to go ahead.
‘Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organizers fearing for their safety.’
According to Amnesty, senior Kiev police official had previously told pride organizers that he was not prepared to put his officers in harm’s way for the LGBT community.
Max Tucker added: ‘The Kiev authorities and police must work harder to ensure next year pride participants can feel confident they will be protected.’
Amnesty also expressed concern about a proposed law change which would ban ‘promoting homosexuality’.
The bill would amend several laws including the law on protection of public morals, the law on print media, the law on television and radio broadcasting, the law on publishing and the criminal code.
The provisions, if adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, would directly discriminate against LGBT individuals in the exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
Max Tucker said: ‘Passing this bill would fly in the face of Ukraine’s international obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and prohibit discrimination.‘
Amnesty International has urged the Ukrainian parliament to reject the bill and ensure LGBT rights are protected.