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Gay-Pride Activists Briefly March In Kyiv

  • RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

KYIV -- Some 50 gay and lesbian activists have held a gay-pride march in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, despite a ban by local authorities.

The "KyivPride-2013" event lasted less than one hour amid a strong police presence.

A gay-rights activist, who identified himself as Vladimir, told the Reuters news agency that the event -- described as the first gay-pride event in the ex-Soviet country -- had been organized "in support of human rights and to protest against the discrimination of gay people in Ukraine."

The participants held rainbow flags and banners that read: "Homosexuality is not a disease." They also chanted "Human rights are my pride."

The crowd included a delegation from Munich. The German city's mayor, Josef Hep Monatzeder, told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, that their presence at the march was "an act of solidarity."

"I will meet the mayor [of Kyiv] but first I [will] join the pride [parade]," he said. "No, the mayor [of Kyiv] is not here, but the mayor of Munich is here. In the past we had a situation when especially conservative parties were against the pride [parade]. But now they join the pride [parade]. It's very hard to speak with people like this, with aggressive people. But you have to show what human rights mean."

Ten people who tried to disrupt the march and tear up posters were detained. They were among some 100 activists who were protesting against the event.

On May 23, a court in Kyiv upheld a request by city authorities to ban the march, saying it risked sparking violence.

Kyiv officials had said the rally would disrupt celebrations for the annual Kyiv Day on the same date.

PHOTO GALLERY: Gay-Pride March Held In Kyiv

Last year, gay-pride organizers canceled a similar event after skinheads gathered at its planned location in protest.

Although Ukraine decriminalized homosexuality in the early 1990s, hostility against gays and lesbians remains high there and in other nations of the former Soviet Union.

Attempted Moscow Rally

In Moscow, gay-rights activists also attempted to hold an unsanctioned rally outside the parliament building and near the mayor's office on May 25.

The campaigners tried to unfurl banners denouncing a Kremlin-backed draft law banning "homosexual propaganda" in front of Russia's lower house of parliament, but they were attacked by Orthodox Christian vigilantes.

Police said at least 30 gay rights campaigners and their opponents were detained. Among those reportedly arrested was Nikolai Alexeyev, the head of the Federation of Russian Homosexuals.

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, voted in January for a bill that establishes administrative penalties for the "promotion of homosexuality among minors."

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, AP, and Interfax