About a hundred gay rights activists in Ukraine peacefully marched down Victory Avenue in the capital Kiev on Saturday, despite attempts to impede the event.
The short 40 minute march, held away from the city center, is the post-Soviet country's first gay pride event, which activists say "will go down in the history of Ukraine as one of the key developments in the fight for equal human rights."
A similar event, planned last year, was canceled after threats of violence and an assault on one organizer. But this year, with police protection, the march went ahead, despite a ban by a Ukrainian court, more than 500 complaints logged against demonstrators, and 60 lawmakers signing a letter to ban gay pride events in May and June.
Riot police protected the marchers, removing hundreds of Orthodox Christian anti-gay activists protesting the event. A few women and men (seen in the video below) grabbed gay pride flags and destroyed placards.
"Ukraine is not America. Kiev is not Sodom," said one anti-gay demonstrator. Ioksana Keresten, an anti-gay Church activist, said: "We are trying to protect family values. We want to protect our children from homosexual propaganda. This parade popularizes homosexuality. It can influence our children for their whole life."
Homophobia is still widespread in Ukraine, but there was also widespread international support for the march. Amnesty International asked Kiev authorities to approve the march and protect its participants. The US embassy to Ukraine supported the event, and the EU Delegation called on police "to effectively ensure that all persons can exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly without putting their personal safety at risk."
According to Agence France-Presse, because there was so much security around the marchers, only journalists, police and anti-gay activists saw most of the march. That being the case, here's a video of the event: