Keep marchers safe at Kyiv Pride

Update, 9 June: Kyiv Pride went ahead on Saturday with around 250 people marching in the Ukrainian capital. Unfortunately events were marred by homophobic violence that left 10 marchers and 5 police officers injured, despite over 1500 police officers present at the march. Thanks for taking action and showing your solidarity with the Kyiv Pride marchers. Amnesty Ukraine were amongst those that marched at Kyiv Pride - see the video above for a quick snapshot of them!

 

Pride season is well and truly underway. LGBTI activists around the world are planning marches and events in their own cities to celebrate their communities and to take a stand against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.

In Kyiv, LGBTI activists are doing the same thing. They are planning to hold a Pride march in the Ukrainian capital tomorrow, but they face continued calls from the Mayor of Kyiv to cancel the event for “security reasons”.  Police have so far reluctantly agreed to protect tomorrow’s march, but as in previous years it is still at risk of a last second cancellation because of threats of violence from homophobic counter demonstrators.

Ask Ukrainian authorities to protect Pride marchers this weekend

Send a tweet to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs calling on him to ensure Kyiv Pride goes ahead on Saturday and give activists adequate protection - while showing marchers on the ground that they have your support.

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Hit the button above to tweet: I stand with marchers at #KyivPride. @MVS_UA, please give them full police protection on Sat

A history of violent threats and no police protection

Over the years Kyiv Pride organisers and the LGBTI community in Ukraine have faced numerous threats of violence and counter demonstrations that have led to Pride being cancelled year after year, as police have failed to commit to adequately protecting LGBTI activists and defend their right to protest.

Tomorrow’s march could become only the second Pride event that Kyiv has seen. The city’s first LGBTI Pride took place in 2013, but a court banned the march from passing through in the city centre, forcing activists to change the location at the last minute. A strong police presence was maintained around the route to protect LGBTI activists from the hundreds of homophobic counter-demonstrators that sought to stop the march and attack the LGBTI community. Organisers advised all those attending to wear light comfortable clothes in case they needed to escape attack from counter demonstrators, or from the police.

A world of difference between Kyiv and London Prides

The reality for the LGBTI community in Ukraine is a stark contrast to the celebratory atmosphere we see in London and at Prides across the UK. London’s first Pride march took place in 1972, and since then thousands of LGBTI people and allies descend on London come rain or shine to march and to celebrate.

Roads at the heart of London are closed off whilst police mark the route, they are friendly and supportive – and more often than not plastered in stickers by the various groups marching. Huge crowds from all walks of life gather along the parade route to watch the parade and celebrate with us. Amnesty UK will be marching in London and you are more than welcome to join us in London on 27 June to show solidarity with LGBTI people around the world.

Marching for those who can't

In Kyiv and many other parts of the world, LGBTI activists face a much different reality. Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is illegal in 78 countries. In ten countries, same-sex relations are punishable by death. Even in countries where no explicit homophobic laws exist, LGBTI people there continue to face violence and discrimination.

This is why year after year Amnesty marks Pride season by highlighting such injustices and monitoring Prides at risk of cancellation. We are calling on Kyiv authorities to ensure that LGBTI activists are able to exercise their freedom of peaceful assembly by allowing the Pride march to go ahead, and providing adequate protection for activists from potential violence and counter-demonstrations.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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