Just 30 minutes before LGBT activists were about to embark on Ukraine’s first-ever pride parade, Kiev police advised organizers to abandon the march. They claimed that 500 ultra-conservative counter-protesters with seemingly violent intent were en route to interrupt the celebration. Amnesty International’s Ukraine campaigner, Max Tucker, explained that the Kiev police had no intention to protect the organizers:
TUCKER: It has been clear from the start that the Kyiv 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. The Kyiv authorities and police must work harder to ensure next year pride participants can feel confident they will be protected.
Though widespread violence was averted by the parade’s cancellation, the day did not end without conflict. Just after meeting with the media, Svyatoslav Sheremet, head of the Gay Forum of Ukraine, was brutally attacked by three of the conservative counter-protesters. His assailants fled when they realized the attack was being filmed, and the resulting image has since gone viral (click to see it full-size):
Of additional concern in Ukraine is proposed legislation to ban any materials “promoting homosexuality,” which would limit the country’s protections for public morals, print media, television and radio broadcasting, and publishing and the Criminal Code. The free expression limitations mirror those recently passed in St. Petersburg, Russia and advancing in other Russian states and perhaps also nationwide.
More photos of Sheremet and other confrontations can be found here.