Ukraine transgender rights rally attacked by far-right radicals
Far-right radicals attacked a rally for transgender rights in Ukraine's capital on Sunday leaving at least three people injured, including a Canadian journalist who was covering the demonstration.
A crowd of more than 50 people had gathered to mark the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance which is observed on Nov. 20 when they were attacked, the Kyiv Post newspaper reported.
"Radicals started moving towards LGBT people, so the police started to physically shove us into the metro and told everybody that the rally has ended," Sofiia Lapina, a member of KyivPride who attended the rally told the newspaper.
Two women were pepper strayed and an international journalist, Canadian freelance reporter Michael Colbourne, was assaulted, Lapina said.
Journalist <a href="https://twitter.com/ColborneMichael?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ColborneMichael</a> took punch to face, sustained cut & had glasses broken by far-right radicals while covering today’s transgender rights rally as police not only stood by but physically removed activists from city-sanctioned event. cc <a href="https://twitter.com/pressfreedom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@pressfreedom</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/RSF_EECA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RSF_EECA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/OSCE_RFoM?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OSCE_RFoM</a> <a href="https://t.co/UZyn7aKdee">pic.twitter.com/UZyn7aKdee</a>—@ChristopherJM
On Twitter, Colbourne said the attack which lead to cuts on his face and a fat lip is "further proof that this country has a huge far-right problem."
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/thread?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#thread</a> about the pathetic display today at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/transmarchukraine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#transmarchukraine</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D1%81%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%882018?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#трансмарш2018</a>, and, along with the broken glasses and cuts on my face and fat lip, further proof that this country has a huge far-right problem. Stop downplaying it. <a href="https://t.co/iFuUaLdZSf">https://t.co/iFuUaLdZSf</a>—@ColborneMichael
Ukrainian police said in a statement that they prevented a "provocation" during the demonstration by separating LGBT activists from far-right counter-protesters.
The attack underscores the power of the far-right in former Soviet states and other parts of Europe, analysts said.
"Spirituality of our country is a priority. If there is no spirituality, then Ukraine will collapse completely … These are our beliefs," Anatolity Polyukhovych, an opponent of transgender rights, told Reuters.
He said counter-protesters rallied to "talk to these transgender people" to convince them not to demonstrate. "If they will still do so, we call on people to stop it physically."
Criminal and hateful actions by far-right radicals deserve an effective and dissuasive policing response. <a href="https://twitter.com/NPU_GOV_UA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NPU_GOV_UA</a> have shown they can do it at past LGBT events; they need to reassert commitment to media protection and human rights for all. <a href="https://t.co/6b4ATaW4zG">https://t.co/6b4ATaW4zG</a>—@WaschukCanUA
Ukraine's government has increased support for LGBT rights since a Western-backed leadership came to power in 2014, but critics say homophobic attitudes remain relatively widespread, Reuters reported in June following an attempt by far-right groups to block a gay pride march.
"Criminal and hateful actions by far-right radicals deserve an effective and dissuasive policing response," Canada's ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuck said on Twitter. Ukrainian police, he added, "need to reassert commitment to media protection and human rights for all."