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Kyiv LGBT Hand-Holding Experiment Ends In 'Neo-Nazi' Attack

  • Tom Balmforth

A video experiment in which a gay couple strolled around Kyiv hand-in-hand to gauge homophobic sentiment went largely without incident until they were attacked by a group of men.

A video experiment in which a gay couple strolled around Kyiv hand-in-hand to gauge homophobic sentiment went largely without incident until they were attacked by a group of men.

MOSCOW -- A video experiment in which a gay couple strolled around Kyiv hand-in-hand to gauge homophobic sentiment went largely without incident until the pair was surrounded by a gang of young men who "pepper-sprayed" and attacked them in broad daylight.

Published on YouTube on July 22, the video initially shows two men, Zoryan Kis and Tymur Levchuk, attracting little more than the occasional stare as they walk around the Ukrainian capital.

Zoryan Kis says nobody had said anything to him and his partner until they were suddenly attacked

Zoryan Kis says nobody had said anything to him and his partner until they were suddenly attacked

But toward the end of the clip, one of them sits on the other's lap on a bench on Khreschatyk, the central street in Kyiv where protesters camped out during the Euromaidan unrest in 2013-14.

They are then approached and surrounded by a gang of around 10 young men -- described by Kis as "neo-fascist or extreme-right men" -- who he says first engaged them in conversation to avoid drawing the attention of the police. "We were asked if we were patriots," Kis says in the video.

Moments later, as pedestrians amble past, one of the men squirts what Kis calls "pepper spray" in their faces before three of the gang land kicks on the seated couple. The attack is swiftly broken up by two men in plain clothes and blue shirts.

WATCH: Kyiv LGBT Experiment Goes Awry

The Ukrainian video was produced by Bird In Flight magazine to repeat a similar experiment recently carried out in Moscow by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual) rights activists to test public reaction to open displays of homosexuality after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the United States in June.

In the Moscow video, made by ChebuRussia TV and posted on July 12, two men holding hands in the capital are verbally abused, leered at, and rammed into by a passerby and confronted aggressively.

The Moscow video has been viewed almost 9 million times.

The Ukraine video had been watched nearly 530,000 times by the time this article was published.

Kis said the Ukrainian video features less casual abuse than the Moscow experiment. "We never heard any insults," Kis says in the video. "And those people who did have a verbal reaction...we were like aliens to them."

"What conclusion can we make? That in our society there are very few aggressive homophobic radicals that are ready for an attack. Other people just do not care if it doesn't concern them personally. And [the antigay] minority is trying to force everyone to play by its rules."

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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