In Digest, Ukraine

TASS, Aug. 13, 2015

ODESSA–A district court in Odessa has banned holding an event in support of sexual minorities rights scheduled in the southern Ukrainian city on Saturday. The decision “to limit the right for the peaceful assembly” comes following a lawsuit filed by the city council against the head of an organizing committee of the Odessa Pride 2015 event.

City of Odessa (Alexei Pavlishak, ITAR-TASS)

City of Odessa (Alexei Pavlishak, ITAR-TASS)

“Taking into consideration the established facts, the court has come to a conclusion that holding the event could pose a real danger and threat to the public order in the city, to the health and life of persons who will take part in it and also to the other citizens and guests of Odessa,” the court said.

Police have earlier called on the authorities to ban the demonstration saying no security guarantees for the participants could be provided amid public protests and the increasingly strained situation.

Members of the clergy and religious organizations have earlier urged the Odessa authorities not to allow holding the LGBT event saying it undermines family values and leads to a decay of personality, the mayor’s office said, citing a respective request.

The event’s organizers said on Wednesday they would take to the streets in Odessa despite the countermeasures of city authorities and threats.

Alina Rakhuba, one of the organizers, said: “If we get an official judgement on banning the event, we will appeal against it. If they ban us from holding the demonstration on certain streets, there is nothing to worry about: Odessa is big. We will not give up. The festival will be certainly held.”

The issue of protecting the rights of sexual minorities remains one of the most sensitive in the relations between Ukraine and the European Union. Brussels has repeatedly called on Kiev to respect and protect the LGBT rights and the wish to hold demonstrations.

Read also:

Film ‘This is Gay Propaganda’ highlights LGBT life in Ukraine. Film screenings across Canada of documentary film showing “harrowing accounts” of LGBT activists in Ukraine threatened by… “Russian occupation”.

Excerpt from a promotion article for the film:
‘You’ve probably heard of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. You may not be aware that LGBT activists played a significant role in this uprising. This groundbreaking film follows the progress of the Euromaidan revolution, and the Russian occupation that followed, from the perspective of LGBT Ukrainians. The film’s director, a queer Canadian of Ukrainian descent, travelled to three Ukrainian cities in 2014, tracking the impact of Russia’s “gay propaganda law” in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine. Meet Alexandra, whose face was on a “Wanted” poster plastered across the city of Donetsk; Vlad, a gay activist hiding out in an LGBT safe house in Kyiv; Olena, who taught women’s self- defence classes during Euromaidan and now fights the spread of anti-gay laws in Eastern Europe. From harrowing accounts of exile and torture, to stories of creative resistance, this film shows a side of the conflict in Ukraine the world has not yet seen.’

Kyiv LGBT hand-holding experiment ends in neo-Nazi attack, Radio Free Europe, July 24, 2015

Gay pride march in Kyiv attacked by extreme right, many injured, EuroNews video, June 6, 2015

Homophobic violence mars gay pride rally in Kyiv, statement by Amnesty International, June 6, 2015

‘The first LGBTI Pride in Ukraine was held in 2013, attracting 100 participants and 500 counter-protesters. The march was held on the outskirts of the city, after a court order banning the marchers from the city centre. The march coincided with Kyiv Day celebrations, and the municipality in the capital had applied – unsuccessfully – for a ban on all demonstrations not linked to the official celebrations.’

Dashed hopes in gay Ukraine, by Dimiter Kenarov, Foreign Policy magazine, Jan 19, 2015

WATCH: Neo-Nazis attack gay club in Ukraine, Advocate.com, July 9, 2014

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