Activist Svyatoslav Sheremet and his injuries
The first-ever Pride parade in the Ukrainian capital was cancelled on Sunday as LGBT activists were beaten and gassed.
Just 30 minutes before the start of the march in Kiev, police advised organisers to cancel the event following threats from a group of ultra-right football hooligans who were said to be on their way to disrupt the parade. While participants were evacuated with a police escort, two activists were not able to evade the youth and were severely beaten and tear gassed by the hooligans.
One of those beaten was Svyatoslav Sheremet, the head of Gay Forum of Ukraine. He was attacked while informing the media that the event was cancelled. The attackers ran off when they realised they were being photographed by the media.
Amnesty International laid the blame for the chaos at least in part on the city’s police department.
“It has been clear from the start that the Kiev police department did not want this march to go ahead. Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organisers fearing for their safety,” said Max Tucker, Ukraine campaigner at Amnesty International.
A senior Kiev police official had previously told Pride organisers that he was not prepared to put his officers in harm’s way for the LGBT community.
“The Kiev authorities and police must work harder to ensure next year pride participants can feel confident they will be protected,” said Tucker.
Amnesty International also expressed its concern about support expressed on Wednesday by a parliamentary committee for a bill restricting the distribution of and access to information “promoting homosexuality”.
The bill would amend several laws including the law on protection of public morals, the law on print media, the law on television and radio broadcasting, the law on publishing and the Criminal Code.
The provisions, if adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, would directly discriminate against LGBT individuals in the exercise of their right to freedom of expression, said Amnesty.