Ukraine: LGBT activists in Kyiv hold first ever gay pride march

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Despite a ban by a local court, more than a hundred LGBT rights activists held the first gay pride demonstration in the capital of Kyiv.

The event was relatively peaceful despite the attempts by a very small number of individuals to disrupt the occasion.

“This can be considered a historic day,” Elena Semyonova one of the organisers told 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 Kyiv on Thursday 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 Kyiv Day celebrations, and could set off violence in the city.

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.

Ukraine is currently governed by the Party of Regions political party who is strongly pro-Russia. Russia is currently passing laws which restrict the freedoms of LGBT citizenssomething that the Ukrainian Parliament also examined.

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.