Euro 2012 fans wave rainbow flags at Ukraine versus Sweden match
Despite concerns over homophobia during Euro 2012 soccer tournament, Ukrainians and Swedes both embraced Kyiv gay protest
Swedish and Ukrainian soccer fans delighted a lesbian activist by supporting her rainbow flag demonstration to show solidarity with Ukraine’s gay and trans population.
Human rights campaigners had raised concerns about the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans attending the European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine, which both have poor records on LGBT rights, and Amnesty International had even suggested gay fans should stay away.
However Clare Dimyon, a UK lesbian campaigner from Pride Solidarity who has won an MBE for her gay work in Eastern Europe, found a surprisingly supportive atmosphere on the streets.
Kyiv was a sea of yellow and blue as fans made their way to the opening match between Sweden and Ukraine on Monday (11 June) but new pictures sent to Gay Star News show that LGBT rainbow colors also found room in the crowds.
Dimyon joined the crowds dressed as ‘St Georgina’ – a spin on Britain’s patron St George – complete with a dragon puppet. She also carried Euro 2012 mascots Slavek and Slavko, which she dressed in rainbow regalia.
And she was joined by both Ukrainian and Swedish supporters only too happy to wave her rainbow Union Jack and rainbow star EU flag.
Dimyon said: ‘It was unbelievable… Swedish fans caught on very fast and were appalled to learn of the curtailment of Kyiv Pride 2012. Ordinary Ukrainians loved St Georgina and Slavek and Slavko and were insisting on posing for photos.
‘What I could not have anticipated was bumping into three Ukrainian dykes whose faces were a picture when they realized there was a rainbow flag, right there in front of them, being waved in the center of Kyiv. We all took one look at each other and fell about laughing.
‘Other Ukrainian fans insisted in joining in without realizing the significance of the rainbow flag. In fact one of them got so carried away he wanted to wave the flag and that I’m afraid was the last I saw of it!’
She was supporting Soccer Pride 2012, an initiative from Sweden to get fans to wear rainbow colors during their stay in Kyiv to show their support for Ukrainian LGBT people.
Earlier volunteers welcoming fans at Kyiv’s Boryspil airport had handed out rainbow wristbands to Swedish and Danish fans who willingly agreed to wear them during their stay to demonstrate their support for the LGBT people of the Ukraine.