The radical nationalist groups violently disrupted a discussion on LGBTI rights in Kyiv on May 10, 2018, Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday. Despite the aggressive behavior of intruders, Kyiv police did not remove them from the premises, and the owner of the place had to cancel the meeting.
“It was clear from the way the police responded that nationalists can get away with this kind of violent and disruptive behavior in Ukraine. The nationalists came with a clear goal of halting a discussion about LGBTI rights and they succeeded as the police stood by and did nothing,” said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The Ukraine office of Amnesty International organized the event to discuss a public proposal to introduce legislation to ban “propaganda” about homosexuality and public events that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. The event featured speakers from Amnesty International Ukraine, Human Rights Watch, and Kyiv Pride, an independent Ukrainian LGBTI group, who planned to discuss how such a law would violate human rights, drawing on experience from similar laws in Russia.
About an hour before the start of the discussion, about 20 members of nationalist groups arrived and threatened the organizers with violence unless they canceled the event. The nationalists accused the organizers and participants of serving foreign interests and yelled “extremists” at the organizers. After a standoff of almost an hour, the owner of the venue told the organizers that their event was canceled, and they had to leave.
Five police officers from the Pechersk District Police did nothing to stop the radical groups from disrupting the event and to remove them from the premises.
Almost three hours after the radical groups arrived, the Kyiv City Patrol Police escorted the organizers and participants, so they could leave the site safely. The police took no action against the attackers.
In recent months, dozens of attacks by members of radical nationalist groups in Ukraine have targeted ethnic minorities – such as Roma – civic activists, and LGBTI people. The police have often ignored the attacks and are reluctant to hold the attackers accountable.
As it was reported earlier, at the Festival of Equality in Zaporizhya, people in masks beat its members - LGBT representatives. The incident occurred near the art center LOFT Mlyn, where the festival was held. A group of young people wearing masks appeared at the entrance, sprayed gas and then beat several LGBT representatives. The police intervened in the situation and pushed the attackers away from the building.