The author of a lesbian book says she is the victim of ‘a 21st-century witch hunt’

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An author has been forced to pull out of a literary festival after her book featuring lesbian parents was met with outrage from homophobic far-right groups.

Larysa Denysenko, a UN Goodwill Ambassador who wrote Maya And Her Mums, has said she is the victim of a “21st-century witch hunt”.

15 ultra-nationalist groups sent a letter to city authorities in Lviv, Ukraine, warning that they would “take all possible measures” to stop her appearance.

(Facebook/Larysa Denysenko)
(Facebook/Larysa Denysenko)

They said their actions were justified because her book was “destructive propaganda for non-traditional values”.

Organisers at the high-profile Publishers’ Forum cancelled Denysenko’s session because they decided her safety could not be guaranteed.

LGBT people in Ukraine still face hatred on a regular basis.

Earlier this year, of Kyiv Pride faced death threats before the march, which still attracted 2,500 people despite the presence of far-right protesters.

Denysenko’s book incorporates 17 different kinds of families, involving a child conceived through artificial insemination, migrant parents and the child of a divorced couple – as well as lesbian parents.

The author wrote on Facebook: “Throughout my professional life, I oppose violence and advocate tolerance.

“It is precisely this attitude, according to at least 15 ultra-right-wing organisations and the Church, that marks me as a 21st-century witch.”

(Publishers' Forum)
The ultra-nationalists’ letter (Publishers’ Forum)

The author condemned the extremist backlash, pouring scorn on her detractors.

“I get the impression that these people haven’t read the book,” she said.

“And what are ‘standard values’ in a country where so many single mothers have to raise children on their own?”

She also appealed to civil and religious authorities to speak out against the extremist groups which had forced her out of the event.

“To those who can and will want to support: do not restrain yourself,” she said.

(Facebook/Larysa Denysenko)
(Facebook/Larysa Denysenko)

“A common opposition to aggression and violence will benefit both those who, behind and those who oppose, and will reduce the number of indifferent [people].”

Denysenko also told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that there had been threats made against her, which she had expected to receive.

One of the 15 ultranationalist groups which contributed to the threatening letter was the National Corps of the Lviv Region.

Maya And Her Moms (
Maya And Her Moms (

On Facebook, the group wrote that literature was becoming “a tool of … propaganda that not only destroys the essence of art, but also transforms it into a mechanism for the destruction of moral and universal values.”

Publisher, which is producing Maya And Her Mums, said that “this is the first time in history of Ukrainian literature that a children’s book and its author have been threatened along with the publisher.”

It called on “the public, media, and law enforcement agencies” to take such threats seriously.