Kyiv Pride 2018: Celebrating Ukraine’s LGBT Community
17 June, 2018

Kyiv Pride 2018’s Equality March took place this morning through the streets of the Ukrainian capital, rounding off a week of events aimed at raising awareness of LGBT rights and issues in Ukraine.

This was the biggest Pride march Ukraine has ever seen, with 3,500 people in attendance, according to the Kyiv police.

Kyiv Pride organizers announced the slogan for the 2018 Equality March as: “The freest event of the summer.”

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There was an array of colorful placards, banners and flags with slogans such as: “All are different, all are equal,” “Yes to sex, no to sexism” and “Equality for everyone!”

To add to the celebrations, this was also the second year that the Equality March featured a separate drag queen stage.   

For Ukrainian MP’s Serhiy Leshchenko and Svitlana Zalishchuk, this was the fourth consecutive year attending the Equality March. 

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The international community was also represented at this year’s March, including Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Washchuk and German Member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms.

German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth told Hromadske he was attending the March to “to highlight that we are one family and we are all committed to European values,” and further commented on the “peaceful and happy” nature of this year’s demonstration.  

American Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who marched with over 60 other representatives from the American embassy, emphasized the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity, adding that “the Ukrainians said that in 2014 and that right extends to our friends in the LGBTI community as well.”

In keeping with the pertinent theme of human rights, some participants of the march took the opportunity to not only stand with the LGBT community, but also remind the crowds and cameras of Crimean political prisoner Oleg Sentsov, who is currently imprisoned in Russia and 34 days into a hunger strike.

Security was much tighter at this year’s event in light of the clashes with anti-LGBT protesters of previous years. In order to enter the area outside the National Opera Theatre, where the March route began, participants had to pass through barriers and then metal detectors. There was also a strong police presence, with 2,500 thousand officers overseeing the event and mounted police leading the procession.

Soldiers from the Ukrainian National Guard were also deployed to ensure the safety of the marchers.

Although this year’s march was somewhat calmer than previous years, there were still minor clashes involving anti-LGBT protesters and law enforcement.

One group of demonstrators spent the night in the city center, and, before the March set off this morning, tried to block the route.

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The Kyiv police reported two separate clashes with around 150 protesters at six and seven o’clock in the morning.

Another group of protesters blocked the entrance to the Lukyanivska metro station, brandishing placards stating: “Predators go away!”

However, all altercations were quickly dispersed by the police. According to the head of the Kyiv police Andriy Kryshchenko, 57 people were detained and five people were injured, requiring medical attention.   

Last year, the event organizers reported 7 attacks took place, with 10 people receiving injuries.

/By Sofia Fedeczko