Ukraine Forced to Change Gay Pride March to Private Event

LGBT community of Ukraine still trying for their 1st Gay Pride Parade…

By Cathy Kristofferson, May 24, 2013

logo ukrUkraine, like most ex-Soviet countries, is not kind to their LGBT community despite homosexuality having been decriminalized in the early 1990s. Last Friday Ukraine was one of three countries, along with Jamaica and South Africa, called out by organizers of the International Day Against Homophobia (DAHO) to highlight their dangerous levels of LGBT discrimination or danger.  Last year’s Gay Pride was cancelled at the last minute when skinheads gathered at the planned event site. This year, the Ukrainian LGBT community made careful plans, determined to hold their first ever Gay Pride March this Saturday.

Over 60 Ukrainian member of Parliament signed a petition demanding that Kiev’s mayor ban the planned pride parade.   Kiev (Kyiv) city authorities Monday filed a lawsuit seeking to ban the Pride event claiming it could prompt violence and might disturb nearby Kiev Day celebrations.  They made these claims despite Kiev police assurances guaranteeing the protection of Pride march demonstrators.   Thursday a Ukrainian court upheld the authorities’ lawsuit and banned the Gay Pride demonstration.

12912971181Amnesty_International_TamilnationalAmnesty International reports  that the Pride’s organizers were informed about Thursday’s court hearing only two hours beforehand not giving them time to secure representation and denying them the opportunity of a fair hearing in court.  If they had been allowed to participate, they could have shown that their route was not in fact within the city limits and also perhaps the police assurances of protection would not have magically evaporated in the courtroom. And so the reasons for the ban may have been ruled unjustified.

“KyivPride-2013″ Committee’s spokeswoman, Olena Semenova, defiantly told Radio Free Europe that the event would take place anyway because gay-rights defenders had “a plan B”.

Earlier today it was reported that an Administrative Court of Appeals in Kiev had overruled and would allow the Gay Pride March.  This was followed quickly by a denial from the Pride Committee stating they had not even filed an appeal and that the false report was just an unwarranted provocation.  The Pride Committee also reiterated their plans to hold their Kiev event despite the court’s ban.

However the KyivPride-2013 Committee has been forced to give up hopes of their first public event and move their plans to a private location releasing the following press bulletin:

 Equality March to be held as a private event, not in central Kyiv, say organizers

UKRAINE-KYIV-GAY-PARADE-VENUE

Kyiv, May 24 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The organizing committee of the Kyiv Pride 2013 International LGBT Forum and Festival has decided to change the venue and format of the Equality March due in Kyiv on May 25.

“On May 23, District Administrative Court of Kyiv ruled to forbid holding any public events not related to the celebration of Kyiv Day in the center of the city on May 25. In connection with this, the organizing committee of Kyiv Pride has decided to change the venue of the human rights march and hold it outside the central part of Kyiv, as well as change its format to a private event,” reads the organizers’ statement published on Friday.

The organizers of the march also expressed their disappointment at the court’s ruling.

“We are disappointed by the court’s ruling to forbid the holding of public events on Day of Kyiv, including the planned Equality March. We think that the human rights event in no way contradicts the concept of Kyiv Day celebrations, and the restriction of citizens’ right to freedom of assembly in this case is groundless and biased,” reads the statement.

The organizers also explained that the Equality March is aimed at “raising the issue of public inequality of LGBT community representatives in Ukraine, protesting against discriminating bills that have been submitted by radical parliamentarians, and the protection of freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly for all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Munich is a partner of Kyiv Pride 2013. Leading international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Freedom House, also supported the event.

The fight for LGBT equality goes on in the Ukraine under the watchful eye of many human rights organizations.  Ukraine is hoping for formal agreements with the European Union.  I think they have some work to do before that should happen.

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