Violent assailants disrupt LGBT rally in Ukraine hurting police officers and burning rainbow flag

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Two police officers were injured in Kharkiv, Ukraine after a group of assailants disrupted a peaceful LGBT demonstration.

The incident happened less than week after Ukraine hosted the Eurovision Song Contest under the slogan “Celebrate Diversity”.

Around 30 people, some covering their faces with balaclavas, stormed the demonstration.

They used obscene language and started throwing eggs and green dye at protesters.

Ukraine demonstration
(Photo: Радіо Свобода)

Police tried to intervene but their actions resulted in a violent outburst from the assailants, who injured two officers and set fire to a rainbow flag.

The officers were taken to hospital where they were treated for head injuries. Kharkiv police later reported on Facebook that the officers had recovered.

Four of the assailants were taken into custody and might face trial.

If convicted of violence against a law enforcement official, they could be sentenced to up to five years in jail.

Organisers of the rally have said the event was meant to draw attention to widespread homophobia in Ukraine.

Video footage of the incident was released showing the hooded men attacking the rally participants and burning an LGBT rainbow flag.

The demonstration took place during the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), celebrated on May 17 around the world.

Although homophobia is still a common issue across Ukraine, bigger cities such as the capital Kyiv and Kharkiv are becoming gradually more liberal.

Last year thousands of people attended Ukraine’s first major LGBT Pride event in Kyiv despite threats from the far-right.

LGBT events had previously been attempted in Ukraine but they often resulted in violent outbreaks.

In March 2016, an LGBT festival was cancelled when far-right groups surrounding the venue started chanting “kill, kill, kill”.