Proposed new laws designed to stop media outlets from “promoting and propagating homosexuality” worry rights groups.
On Saturday, journalists arrived to witness ranks of riot police and special forces surrounding a group of around 50 LGBT activists, keeping a vocal mob of Orthodox Christian protesters at bay, as they gathered in the shadow of the monument to famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The Orthodox protesters waved banners with expressions such as “Kiev is not Sodom” and “Gays bring AIDS to Ukraine”.
The parade was intermittently interrupted when some religious protesters disguised as press lunged at activists, attempting to rip banners and placards. According to the police, 13 arrests were made. After one hour, activists were evacuated from the area, changing their clothes and switching modes of transport multiple times to avoid any revenge attacks.
Over a bowl of borscht in a central Kiev restaurant, Yuriy Noievyj, a Svoboda deputy for the Kiev region, argued that the party was trying to fight against extremism it sees as imposed by the European Union in trying to get Ukraine to recognise same-sex marriages.
"I ask only one question – where is the democracy in this campaign against Ukraine’s traditional values? Now it seems that if you are a Christian, you are an extremist. Does this mean that democracy is now liberalism?"
Noievyj echoed concerns which were voiced by the anti-LGBT groups present at the gay pride march. The occasion, he said, was forced on Ukrainian society by international interests.
"All of these participants were from abroad, they were very few and guarded by thousands of police because of pressure from lobby groups from the West. And most of the police hate faggots."