Wednesday 24 January 2018

Dozens arrested for attacking gay pride rally in Kiev

Sergiy Takhmazov

Several dozen unknown assailants have attacked a gay pride march in Kiev, throwing flares and wounding two policemen.

At least a dozen people were injured and more than 20 others arrested as scuffles broke out between members of a rare Ukrainian gay pride march and their nationalist opponents.

On Friday the organisers for 'KyivPride2015' said the march along the Dnipro river would go ahead despite warnings from city mayor Vitaly Klitschko, who advised the event be cancelled because of a threat of violence from far-right groups.

Despite the presence of several hundred police in riot gear, the march of around 150 LGBT supporters carrying rainbow banners and placards came under attack and 25-30 "hooligans" were arrested, parliament member Serhiy Leshchenko said on Twitter.

Members of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) nationalist organisation - often credited with spearheading the demonstrations that toppled Ukraine's former Russian-backed president last year - had threatened to disrupt the protest on the grounds of defending "conservative traditions".

Mr Leshchenko said police had prevented any direct clashes between participants in the march and the attackers.

Ukrainian authorities have increased their support for LGBT rights since a new pro-European government came to power after last year's 'Maidan' street protests but critics say homophobic attitudes remain widespread.

President Petro Poroshenko said on the eve of the protest that he fully supported the marchers but would refrain from attending the event.

“As far as the ‘March of Equality’ is concerned, I view it from both the perspective of a Christian and a pro-European president. I believe these are two completely compatible ideas,” he told reporters.

"I see no grounds for someone to try and disturb it, since this is the constitutional right of every Ukrainian citizen."

An Interior Ministry member detains an anti-gay protester during an 'Equality March' in Kiev Credit: REUTERS/Stringer
An Interior Ministry member detains an anti-gay protester during an 'Equality March' in Kiev Credit: REUTERS/Stringer
Activists hold up a rainbow flag Credit: REUTERS/Stringer
Anti-gay protesters attack a policeman during a gay pride parade in Kiev Credit: Maksym Kudymets


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