Around 7,000 people gathered in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday 19 September to demonstrate for the rights of the LGBTQ community in the country at the annual March for Equality.
Armed with colorful costumes and rainbow flags, the crowd marched through the central streets of Kiev, some of them carried banners with the words “We are fighting for our rights!”. The protesters announced eight main demands, including the introduction of a civil partnership law for same-sex couples and a law against LGBTQ hate crimes.
“We’re sick of it”
“We are tired of waiting for change and enduring systematic intimidation, pressure, disruption of peaceful events, attacks on activists and the LGBT community,” the protesters said in a statement. “We are calling for changes here and now because we want to live freely in our own country.”
The march was guarded by police who tried to prevent clashes with far-right groups who want to disrupt the event every year. Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova called on radical groups to refrain from violence.
“We are different, but we are the same,” said Denisova. “The Constitution of Ukraine has declared all human rights equal from birth, regardless of any characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Ukraine lifted criminal liability for homosexuality in 1991. In 2015, Ukraine’s labor laws were amended to ban discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace.
Conservative groups in the largely Orthodox Christian country reject the rights of LGBTQ people. Members of far-right organizations regularly attack groups and events associated with the LGBTQ community. Human rights activists report that the Ukrainian police often ignore homophobic or transphobic motives for attacks and classify them as hooliganism.