About 6,000 people marched in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in support of LGBTI equality.
On Sunday, 17 June, Kiev hosted its annual Pride parade. With roughly 6,000 participants, this was a record high turnout for the event.
Still, a nationalist group known as C14 tried to prevent the parade from happening. About 150 of these nationalists attempted to block the streets prior to the event.
Before the event began, 56 people were arrested due to a clash between law enforcement and nationalists at a nearby Opera house. The clash left several officers injured.
About 5,000 police officers showed up to guard the event. 2,500 of them formed a chain around the LGBTI marchers to protect them from attacks by the nationalists. This secure space only allowed entry via metal detectors.
Nevertheless, LGBTI marchers were warned not to return to the city’s center after being brought via subway to an unknown location. This was due to threats by nationalists, who LGBTI activists believe will attempt to attack them after the festivities.
‘Despite the threats, I felt happy,’ activist Ulyana Movchan said of the event. ‘For once, LGBT-people felt themselves safe in the streets of [Kiev]. It is encouraging to see that the Pride is growing every year.’
According to Rėmy Bonny, a political science student focusing on LGBTI politics in Central and Eastern Europe, this year’s parade garnered the support of various Ukrainian members of the European Parliament. Among them are Svitlana Zalishuck and Rebecca Harms.
‘This is the third year in a row that the Pride is able to happen peacefully,’ Zalischuk said. ‘LGBT+ rights are not just important for the LGBT+ community, but for the whole country. Countries with more equality for the LGBT+ community also have higher levels of GDP [Gross Domestic Product].’
Last year, 2,000 people marched in Kiev Pride. And much like this year’s event, marchers were met with violent anti-LGBTI protesters, some even burning rainbow flags.