KyivPride gets creative during COVID-19 lockdown amid backlash

Drones carried the Gay Pride flag to make it appear to fly near the sword of the Mother Motherland monument in Kyiv on 21 June 2020. Photo: snapshot from video 


The annual LGBT Pride Parade in Kyiv was canceled due to #COVID19, but the organizers have moved it online. This year, a creative touch was added to the regular events, with a gigantic rainbow flag that a drone transported to the Kyiv Mother Motherland monument:

The move elicited controversial reactions. Some were glad that the LGBT movement was gaining visibility. Some felt it was inappropriate to adorn a statue symbolizing World War II with such a flag. Others said this was a way to troll the supporters of the Soviet notion of the “Great Patriotic War” and those nostalgic for the USSR. Yet others called to legally ban “gay propaganda.”

The first truly successful KyivPride was held in 2015 with 250 participants who were guarded by several hundred policemen against attacks by nationalist organizations. After that, the march was held annually with growing numbers of participants and police who guarded their way. In 2019, over 8000 participants took place.

This year, the regular KyivPride activities were supplemented by the RizniRivni “Different Equal” campaign organized by a number of Ukrainian LGBT organizations: Gender Z, Insha, KyivPride, Liga, Sfera, the Human Rights Education Center in Lviv with the support of the NDI in Ukraine and governments of the UK, Sweden, and Canada. It kicked off with a collaborative video by Ukrainian music stars titled “RizniRivni.”

Also held online this year was the March for Family organized by the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, conceived as a “counterstrike” of sorts to the increased activity of the LGBT movement after the Euromaidan revolution.

But nationalist organizations blamed for violence against LGBT activists have not moved online: members of the Tradition and Order NGO called to “unite around the conservative movement” and “go on the offensive against left-wing radical initiatives,” in particular, against KyivPride. The “offensive” so far has included gluing anti-LGBT posters in Kyiv’s Podil district in a coalition with other nationalist and conservative movements, attacking those who were taking them off, holding a demonstration for traditional family values, and intimidating passersby, including pepper-spraying one girl, apparently, for an “informal style of attire,” and punching two young men.

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