Transgender rights march at risk of attack
Transgender rights activists in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, are planning to hold a march on 23 November to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. In 2018, the police failed to protect those participating in a similar march from attacks committed by violent groups advocating hatred and discrimination. This year, there is a serious risk of new attacks. The police must ensure people can safely exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression without discrimination.
Why does Kiev’s Trans-March 2019 need your support?
Participants of the Trans-March 2019 are at serious risk of attacks from violent groups advocating hatred and discrimination. Police failed to protect participants in a similar peaceful rally in 2018. Police did not take action against members of violent groups, advocating against LGBTI people, who attacked the march.
Instances of abuse include; throwing smoke grenades, shouting homophobic abuse and threats, and in some instances resorting to direct physical violence against participants and at least one journalist.
LGBTI rights activists in Ukraine have been facing physical attacks from violent groups advocating hatred and discrimination for many years. The perpetrators of such attacks are rarely held accountable for their actions and thus enjoy near total exemption from punishment.
Attacked at the 2018 Trans-March
In 2018, transgender rights activists in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, posted on Facebook about their plans to hold a transgender rights march on 18 November. In response, several violent groups – known for advocating for discrimination and targeting LGBTI people – publicly promised to disrupt the event and invited their supporters to join them.
The open threat of violence forced organisers to change the location of the rally. At around 10:30 am on 18 November, Amnesty International members witnessed dozens of individuals – some masked and many wearing the logos of the violent groups that had issued the threats – assemble at the new location of the trans-rights rally.
They were carrying transphobic placards and holding prayers. At about 11:30 am, 30 minutes before the rally, police told the organisers that they would not be able to guarantee the safety of the event and insisted that the rally be moved to the Universytet metro station nearby.
At noon, around 30 transgender rights activists assembled in front of the designated metro station. They were then surrounded by police in riot gear. Shortly after, violent counter-protesters began throwing smoke grenades at the rally from the opposite side of the street. The police did not stop them from throwing the smoke grenades and did not detain any of the people throwing them.
Several minutes later, a group of about a dozen counter-protesters aggressively approached the rally, positioning themselves around the transgender rights activists. After that, the police stopped the peaceful assembly, surrounded the participants and forced them to go inside the metro station, effectively putting an end to the rally. The counter-protesters then took the trans-rights advocates’ place in front of the station, unfurled their banners and flags, and made transphobic speeches.
The police made no visible effort to stop the counter-protesters and allowed them to continue their rally on the very spot in which they had forced the trans-rights activists to leave.
Later the same day, the National Police of Kiev’s press service announced that police had prevented a “provocation” from far-right groups against transgender rights activists, but made no mention of whether anyone had been detained in connection with the incident.
Amnesty International has repeatedly attempted to contact the Ministry of Interior press service, unsuccessfully, for comments and further information regarding its response to the incident.
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