In Ukraine the success of the March of sexual minorities is still measured in meters.
“In 2013 we managed to walk 100 meters, then there were 80 participants. Last year we passed the 750 metres, the March was attended by two thousand people”, — says Director of public organization “Kievprayd” Ruslan Panuhnik.
And yet last year the success of the March was measured not only in meters. This was the first procession of representatives of sexual minorities in Ukraine, which without the use of force. Informed opponents of the March have managed to cause injury to its participants.
The situation of sexual minorities will be discussed next week at the international level on the eve of the contest “Eurovision”.
The main issue is security, as among the guests of “Eurovision” traditionally there are many representatives of sexual minorities. In addition to incidents at previous marches, we can also mention the right-wing attack on attendees of a private event held by sexual minorities in Lviv in November last year.
The authorities assured that Kiev is a safe city for everyone arriving for Eurovision. The staff of the Advisory mission of the EU ЕUАМ, who conducted training of Ukrainian police also confirmed this.
Panuhnik said that the attitude of the police has changed in Kiev for a couple of years ago. March last year without the use of violence by police action.
She says that in 2013 and 2014, the police didn’t even want to shake hands with the organizers of the gay parade, not to mention the fact to really ensure the safety. Now the communication is normal.
However, the situation is satisfactory only in Kiev. Everywhere the situation of sexual minorities in Ukraine is still complicated.
For example, a particularly not considered crimes of hate committed on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Thus, the number of such crimes is unknown.
“The victims did not report them to the police, because I know that it may not lead to anything. Another reason is that it will lead to publicity because the police have to tell you that you’re a homosexual, lesbian or a transvestite.”
Currently, only the law on labour prohibits discrimination against sexual orientation. However, it now edit and in the new draft law makes no mention of sexual minorities.
As explained by journalist and researcher of the analytical center Atlantic Council and one of the founders of the independent channel “Gromadska TV” Maxim Eristavi, who is also an activist in civil rights, it is likely there are two reasons. These two reasons best explain the issue.
“First, religious groups have a great influence on the political elite. In General, Ukraine is not a very religious country, but the political and economic elite quite religious,” he says.
The second cause is the struggle for self-awareness that is spreading rapidly in Eastern Europe.
“She is under the influence of multinational homophobic organizations. Regardless of whether they have religious or conservative content, they spend a lot of money and power in countries such as Ukraine and Russia. They support in different ways the local Church and religious organizations, as well as the organization of homophobes.”
In addition, many local politicians have noticed that homophobic position can bring a lot of extra points.
However, Eristavi noted that the issues were discussed publicly only after Euromaidan in February 2014, led to a change of government. He says that the public discussion is of great importance.
“Now the moment has come for civil rights and the rights of sexual minorities. Development can go either way. There are a lot of both negative and positive examples.”
There are many positive because people are curious. On the other hand, the discussion engendered opposition, as shown by the increasing number of violence against sexual minorities. In some places the police would strengthen their actions to prevent such crimes, but the actions of the authorities is not sufficient.
“The biggest problem is that our Western partners do not consider the issue important,” said Eristavi.
Panuhnik have a lot of work related to the organization of the gay parade. She said that this year it should take about four thousand people.
Security issues remain very important. The March ends near the metro station which will be closed to others. Thus, participants almost evacuated from the venue of the March. Security considerations March will be the last event of the entire “pride week”, in other countries in March is usually followed by celebrations.
“Opponents every year is getting smaller — says Panuhnik. And last year, more than half of the participants were heterosexual”.