Anti-LGBT activists attack marchers at Kiev Pride event

The second LGBT pride march in Ukrainian history was held in Kiev this Saturday. There were violent threats from an anti-LGBT activist group in protest of the peaceful march. Organizers tried to keep the time and location secret, and hundreds of police in riot gear surrounded the marchers to protect them from the anticipated attack. However, the event information was leaked and the anti-LGBT attackers showed up at the very beginning of the march. They threw flares and firecrackers packed with nails, injuring 10 LGBT marchers and 2 police officers (one of whom is in critical condition and undergoing surgery). Because of the violence, the pride march lasted only 10 minutes.

Still, the LGBT community in Kiev considers it a success (which of course does not excuse the physical harm to the marchers and the police). There were more than 250 participants - a great development in comparison to the 50 participants in Ukraine's last march. Support for LGBT rights in Ukraine has increased since that demonstration in 2013, and that the police were there to protect instead of hurt was meaningful. President Poroshenko became the first president of Ukraine to voice support for LGBT rights by endorsing the march. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church also saw improvement since the last march, where they had helped attack the protestors. This time, Bishop Clement stated that the church would not exercise force against the marchers, even though it still doesn't support LGBT pride. Many saw the event as a step forward for acceptance in Ukraine, despite the attack.

(Leshchenko, a Ukranian Member of Parliament and one of the first to attend an LGBT pride march, speaks out in support)

Both the public and the authorities of Ukraine had to turn their attention towards LGBT rights issues after the pride demonstration. Although homophobia is still the country's prevalent attitude, the issue is gaining visibility – and therefore eventual understanding and acceptance. GLAAD's Global Voices program seeks to help amplify the voices of the Kiev marchers to achieve just that.