KyivPride: Openness, Security Measures and 300% more MPs. Nobody Injured
Equality March 2016. For the first time, KyivPride organizers openly announced the time and location of the march. The event was attended not only by those who belong to the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), but by various other groups as well, including parents with children, people with disabilities, youth, and older people.
Equality March was supported by six MPs, representatives of the Office of the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner on Human Rights, and guests from various countries, such as Germany, France, Sweden, and Canada. Observers speak about the unprecedented security measures and the professionalism of the police. No one was injured.
While some tension could be felt at the human rights march, there were more reasons to feel uplifted. Kyiv Pride participants spoke out for equal rights for all and against many forms of discrimination.
“Love wins.” This was the repeated slogan that can sum up this year’s Equality March (KyivPride). Despite occasional provocations, the human rights march took place peacefully and safely, without victims.
The March was attended by 1500 participants and was guarded by 5500 police officers and 1200 soldiers from the National Guard, said the head of the National Police, Khatia Dekanoidze.
People from abroad came to support the March, including from Germany, France, Sweden, and Canada. As co-organizer Anna Sharygina put it, KyivPride was supported by a large number of human rights organizations, organizations whose activities are designed to stop the war in the east of Ukraine, people with disabilities and others. “It’s incredible: many different people have expressed their support for the Equality March”, says Sharygina.
The parents of a very young protester named Alisa Victoria, Yulia and Volodymyr Victoria, were also at the March. “This is our first demonstration. Our daughter was born after Maidan. Two of our other children are at home, while the three of us came here like everyone else who’s here – for equal rights for all”, commented Yulia.
TV presenter Ulyana Pchelkina, who uses a wheelchair, confesses that she would not have come to the KyivPride last year. But, over the last year, she has felt a change and realized that human rights are meant to be equal for everyone, without exception.
“I know what discrimination is, I face it every day. I know what it’s like to live with it. Therefore, I support the Equality March. I want so badly that our demonstrations for the rights of people with disabilities would also be supported! When it is said that such measures are propaganda to turn people gay, it is like saying that our demonstrations are meant to make people disabled,” said Ulyana.
As noted by MP Svitlana Zalishchuk, 300% more deputies were there this year than last: “In 2015, only Serhiy Leshchenko and I supported the March. This year, there are six of us.”
MP Olena Kondratyuk, who is also a representative of the parliamentary group “Equal Opportunities”, noted that supporting KyivPride also means advocating for women’s rights and gender equality.
“The willingness of the state to hold such public events is a sign of change. It is, first and foremost, about the equality parade. How does a country respect human rights and recognize human values? We have chosen the European path. It is very good that there are politicians who are not afraid to participate and to support such activities, ” says MP Serhiy Leshchenko. He also recalled the legislative initiatives, in particular within the framework of the EU-Ukraine relationship, to introduce the institution of civil unions.
Opponents came to KyivPride, too. They held banners reading “We are against gay propaganda.” They also came prepared, and, using the language of human rights, asked about restrictions on the freedom of movement of citizens and religious rights. The police, while giving them the opportunity to talk with reporters, drove them away from the participants in order to avoid provocations.
The head of the Human Rights Ombudsman Office, Bohdan Kriklivenko, noted that the Equality March, besides supporting the idea of ”Human Rights First”, also carried out independent monitoring of the respect paid to the human rights of the counter-demonstrators.
“Police work professionally. The rights of those who tried to somehow interfere have also been observed and they were treated professionally,” said Kriklivenko. Later, he said that all the detainees, about 50 people, had already been released as of 11:50.
The organizers and the police took into account the errors from the previous year, when they did not take care of the security measures after the March, so this time they “dissipated” participants all over Kiev.