When discussing the state of LGBT rights in Ukraine, the old cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words certainly holds true:
This photograph, taken by Reuters photographer Anatolii Stepanov, depicts Svyatoslav Sheremet, the head of Gay Forum of Ukraine, crouched on the ground in the fetal position while being beaten by masked thugs. Unbelievably, the beating took place during a press conference in which Sheremet announced the cancellation of Kiev’s first-ever gay pride parade (and members of the media apparently stood around and watched, “documenting the attack“). MSNBC also posted a photograph of a bloodied Sheremet in the aftermath of his attack, seen below.
According to Gay Star News, Kiev police advised leaders of the city’s gay pride parade to cancel the march just 30 minutes before its scheduled start time, warning that a horde of 500 “ultra-right football hooligans” was heading toward the starting point intent on stopping the parade by force. Max Tucker, Ukraine campaigner at Amnesty International, told Gay Star News that the Kiev Police Department had made it clear from the start that they were opposed to a pride march through downtown Kiev: “Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organisers fearing for their safety.” Amnesty International also reported that a senior Kiev police official recently told pride organizers that “he was not prepared to put his officers in harm’s way for the LGBT community.” In response, the organization issued a statement calling on the Ukrainian government to respect and protect the human rights of LGBT people.
To make matters worse for Ukraine’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered population, an anti-gay law similar to the one recently passed in St. Petersburg, Russia has been proposed in the Ukranian parliament. The bill was passed by the Committee on Freedom of Expression and Information and recommended to the full body; it would effectively ban all public discussion of LGBT issues (which are now considered “gay propaganda” under St. Petersburg’s new law) and criminalize LGBT human rights work in the country. Offenders convicted under the proposed law would face steep fines or up to five years in prison.
A vote on the proposed law could take place as soon as this week.
More photographs of today’s vicious homophobic attack in Kiev can be found here.