Friday, August 26, 2016


Beaten Ukrainian Gay Activist Unbowed

Nearby reporters captured the scene as unidentified assailants beat Svyatoslav Sheremet, the head of the Ukrainian Gay Forum, in Kyiv on May 20.
Nearby reporters captured the scene as unidentified assailants beat Svyatoslav Sheremet, the head of the Ukrainian Gay Forum, in Kyiv on May 20.
Ukrainian Gay Forum leader Svyatoslav Sheremet woke up on the morning of May 20 looking forward to the gay pride march that he and his colleagues had been planning for months. The march was the only public event the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Kyiv had scheduled to mark May 17th’s International Day Against Homophobia.

By that afternoon, Sheremet was in the hospital with bleeding in his eyes, multiple contusions, cuts, and bruises.

Sheremet tells RFE/RL that less than an hour before the march was scheduled to begin, police began questioning the organizers about the need for such an event. He says they alluded to letters of protest that had been sent to Kyiv city authorities and said, “Think about what you’re doing. There are so many people against you and we cannot guarantee your safety.” They said as many as 2,000 right-wing radicals were planning to protest the gay pride march.

Fearful for the safety of the participants in the march, Sheremet and the other organizers called off the event.

He and a colleague briefed reporters on the scene about why the march had been canceled. Then they walked a few meters away to call for a taxi.

That’s when four men wearing surgical masks swooped down on them.

The 35-year-old Sheremet says he was surprisingly calm as he was being beaten. He says he closed his eyes, covered his face, and fell to the ground.

“Colleagues from other countries had warned us about different violent attacks that could be used against pride activists and participants. They told us how to act, which positions to assume, how to protest," Sheremet says.

"All of this was in my head, and during the attack I caught myself thinking that this is probably something I expected. It just so happened that it was I and my colleague who ended up in this particular time and in this particular spot. This could have happened to any pride participant. Surprisingly, I didn't feel any stress.”

The clutch of reporters nearby witnessed and filmed the attack, which lasted about 30 seconds. Video and photos quickly found their way onto the Internet and were featured on several evening newscasts in Ukraine. Amnesty International condemned the incident.

Inside Ukraine, the response was muted.

Sheremet says he believes Ukrainian society is generally indifferent to the gay and lesbian community. He says most polls show that while Ukrainians may not support same-sex marriage, they also don’t support aggressive measures against gays.

The problems begin when the hard-line right-wing elements come into the picture, he says.
Sheremet tends to his injuries after the attack.Sheremet tends to his injuries after the attack.
Sheremet tends to his injuries after the attack.
Sheremet tends to his injuries after the attack.

“The same people commit these crimes. It almost never happens that someone comes out to beat up on gays and doesn’t go and [also] beat up some other group," Sheremet says. "This is not a problem of society's relations with the gay community; this is a problem for all of society. There is a certain aggressive element which is against many swaths of Ukrainian society. After all, all of us belong to one or another particular social group and there are no guarantees that the social group that my neighbor, who feels very safe, belongs to won't become the object of the next violent attack.”

On December 12, 1991, Ukraine became the first former Soviet country to decriminalize homosexuality. But today, the country’s government stands on the threshold of adopting legislation that would restrict the distribution of, and access to, information considered to portray homosexuality in a positive light.

A similar law has already been passed in Russia, to the dismay of rights activists.

The proposed legislation has been introduced by two members of parliament, one from the Communist Party, the other from the ruling Regions Party. Sheremet says he and his group are actively lobbying against the laws’ passage.

“We are doing everything possible to stop these laws from being passed. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is aware of these proposed laws; the Human Rights Council of Europe commissar is tracking this issue," Sheremet says. "We think, however, that the European integration course that Ukraine has embarked upon considerably complicates the enacting of such senseless initiatives, which curtail the rights of one group of people in favor of another.”

Gay rights are first and foremost human rights, Sheremet says. Without even mentioning his beating, he says it was disappointing that the pride march had to be canceled.

Someday soon, he believes, under the edifying influence of European integration, Kyiv will see its first public gay pride event.

-- Irena Chalupa
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: elizabeth from: usa
May 24, 2012 18:22
I am not for homosexuality. It is against Bible principles. So is violence. It is not right for people to abuse other individuals just because they disagree. Let's grow up and deal with it like adults.
In Response

by: Christopher Lance from: Colorado
May 24, 2012 19:15
Elizabeth I think we should start this adult dialog by reiterating that according to every accredited medical, psychological and scientific institution in the United States, homosexuality and heterosexuality are both normal, natural and unchangeable sexual orientations.

Gays, Lesbians and Straights are all born with their sexual orientation. Belief in a god or higher power does not change this.
In Response

by: Sey from: World
May 25, 2012 08:15
Homosexuality is natural? Excuse me, that is not true at all.

Homosexuality is behavioral, it is developed by some animal species by reasons related to their environment, not by their physiological structure. It is a phenomenon in the behavior of animals.

If homosexuality would be natural, then all species of the same sex could physically procreate as its our natural function, or we'd be like some fish species and choose our sexuality as we grow.

As for the beatings. I am just going to call for basic reasoning here. If you know there's people who's going to beat you up if you do X thing, then you are truly an arrogant idiot if you still do the X thing. Views on homosexuals in Orthodox countries are not gonna change just because some people in the West say so, there will be bloodshed before "acceptance", which I disapprove, comes.

So who's up for the war?
In Response

by: elizabeth from: usa
May 26, 2012 22:22
I do not want to have a dialog. FYI there is Absolutely NO facts backing up what the scientific/medical and psychology experts think. They are only theories. Mankind will never, never establish peace on earth on his own. This government of man needs to be destroyed. Too much greed for power, money and no accountability will lead men to that. To believe in a Creator would be to know that 2 Timothy 3:2-7... all that is bad and against the Creator's principals. To acknowledge the Creator is to allow oneself to be held accountable for our behaviors/actions. Can you really understand what this means:
"All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
In Response

by: David from: United States
May 24, 2012 19:25
Beating any minority social group only strengthens their resolve and moral high ground. The oppressors here are not in the right. By turning to violence instead of dialogue, they've discredited and invalidated their beliefs. Ukranians should be appalled and outaged that a minority group faces persecution within their country. The Orthodox church shares in this shame as well by encouraging this violence.
In Response

by: elizabeth from: usa
May 26, 2012 22:35
It is not only the Ukrainians that are violent towards homosexuals. There are many still in the US that are against not only homosexuality but other races such as: the Black, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, women and the list goes on. We need to be loving no matter what others do to us. We need to follow Jesus's example of forgiveness and humility and lovingness. Also when Jesus knew that certain people were looking to throw stones at him, he didn't stick around to get stoned. He was focused on what his time on earth was for and he did it. Well if you know that there is danger ahead - you go around to avoid it, not into it.
In Response

by: iLhan from: California
May 25, 2012 00:02
This violence against Gays was more prevalent in the United States before laws were passed giving them equal protection. We should urge the government of the Ukraine to proceed with passing equal protection legislation for all of its citizens. This behavior can't possibly be something they're proud of, nor will the Western Europeans that they so desire to cluster with, tolerate it.
In Response

by: Michael Brytan from: New York
May 27, 2012 04:52
The Bible is also against eating shell fish, divorce, pre-marital sex, and so on and so forth. Maybe we should start stonning everyone according to the Bible and soon there will be nobody left to stone.
In Response

by: Harry from: Victoria
June 12, 2012 16:56
Indeed. This is called selective Christianity. It's the same thought as when something really bad happens to a church memeber the lay person will say it's because they have sin oin their life and they need to repent. But when something bad happens to the lay person it's because they are being tested so their character can be resolved......selective Christianity. It's what Christians have been doing for th elast 2000 years. Pick and choose what works for their particular brand of Christianity, which has more flavours than there are religions on the faceof this earth!!!! That should tell you something very clear right there!
In Response

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
June 13, 2012 03:15
A certain Elizabeth of the United States refers to the Bible, which now can be seen as ill-written tale..
We know that the bible was written by many sect members, who were absolutely ignorant of today's point of view...
We know also that Christ is a fictional character invented by Jewish sectarians.
Therefore, all references to the Bible, it's like to refer to Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse or Tom and Jerry...
So I would recommend Elizabeth to study the criminal code of her country and the law, rather than reading of primitive tales ..
In Response

by: elizabeth from: USA
June 17, 2012 06:14
Sect members???? I'm really sorry you have not had the opportunity to learn what the Bible is and what's in it. "We know", who is we? Sounds like your life really has no meaning. Your country really has made you believe what ever they want. Pity you don't believe in God and His inspired Word the Bible. Just by looking at the creatons both natural and the man-made ones should tell you that there is someone else that designed this world and whats in it. If you read the Bible then you'd see that what was prophesied has actually happened. These prophesies are very detailed and have come true unlike horoscopes and even what ancient oracles used to predict which was very ambiguous. I don't know of any modern books that have such a record of fulilled prophecy. There is also archeological proof of the specific places and rulers of which the Bible talkes about. There isn't any other ancient book or texts that talk so detailed about history. The old testament talks much about laws that God gave man to follow for health benefits, like the proper disposal of sewage, quaranteening those with diseases like leprosy, washing up after touching dead animals. This Bible completely harmonizes with modern science. Think about it, rarely if at all has there been any book that was written where 66 books all are in harmony with one another and that were written over a period of 1500 years! And written by so many different authors, abot 40 different ones. We have so many different self help books and where is that getting us. The Bible's Book of Proverbs alone can be used as a self help book. It's not a medical book but it has some great advice for our emotionality and physical health. (& for Michael Brytan of New York, you don't know what you are saying. The Bible doesn't say we can't eat shellfish. stop reading it out of context. As for divorce & the other stuff you mention, well if everyone remained committed & monogomous in their marriages we wouldn't have all these sexually transmitted diseases and broken homes. FYI stoning WAS the tradition as still is in some countries. Jesus did not condon it..remember-John 8:7"He who is without sin......cast first stone..) For all that don't believe in the Bible as the inspired truth from God, do your own research & prove or disprove what the Bible is saying before you cast the first stone. And Vakhtang of Moscow, I never condon violence in ANY situation, not even war no matter how bad it gets in ones country. Suffering is one of the things we humans have to accept (that is for those that believe in God) because Jesus suffered for us & God gave up His ONLY SON for us, for our sins so that we can through faith & good works, according to His Word have everlasting life some day. One of the repetitive prophecies is hope for the future where ...he will wipe the tears...REVELATION 21:4

by: Emjay from: England
May 27, 2012 15:33
I don't get why this always sort of discussion dissolves into scientific/behavioural/biblical or other opinionated bull crap.

Gay people are entirely licensed to love who the hell they want regardless of what causes it the attraction - in the same way any heterosexual person is. The fact is, that's the way it is. Just leave them to it.

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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

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