Following the violence of 2012 and past bans on the event, the Ukrainian capital Kiev held its first major peaceful Pride parade.
According to the authorities, around 1,500 people turned out to march for LGBT equality in the city centre on Sunday.
The participants were protected by a cordon of 5,500 police officers. The authorities said that 57 people who attempted to harass the marchers were detained and later released.
“We’ve been seeking this day for many years and today we are seeing real progress in human rights,” said Amnesty International Ukraine on Facebook. “There is still much to be done on the way to a society without discrimination, but today we are celebrating our first step.”
Amnesty thanked the National Police of Ukraine, the Kyiv City State Administration and Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko for ensuring that the event was a safe one.
ILGA-Europe, which took part in the procession, said: “We are extremely happy and very impressed to see the tremendous support that it has received. Congratulations to the Ukrainian movement on a joyful and safe event! You are making history!”
Previous attempts to hold Pride marches have either degenerated into violence, thanks to right wing extremists, or were banned by city officials, who claimed that they could not protect marchers.
In 2012, journalists captured the horrific beating of two activists by a group of thugs, just before the Pride was scheduled to start. Participants were evacuated by police and the event was cancelled.
Since 2014, there have been improvements in the state’s approach to LGBT people. In November last year, the Ukraine approved a bill barring LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
The law, however, was not passed simply due to the goodwill of legislators; it was a requirement for the country to be allowed visa-free travel within the European Union.