A gay man was left in need of stitches when he and his friend were beaten up by a group in Kiev last weekend in a homophobic attack.
The harrowing incident happened after a group of men took issue with Nikita Ponarin’s choice of jeans and his septum piercing, he said in a post on Facebook.
Nikita had to get stitches on his head after the event and was left with a few bruises and scratches, but insists that the injuries are not serious.
He said that the incident has been reported to the police, and he is hopeful that it might have been caught on CCTV so that those responsible might be caught.
Despite the harrowing attack, Nikita told PinkNews that he plans to stay in Kiev, and said in his Facebook post that the city is “still beautiful.”
He is determined to remain positive, saying: “we are alive and almost healthy.”
He wanted to share his experience “not for empathy or pity,” but to show that hate crimes are still a reality for many LGBT+ people in 2018.
Recent research from UK charity Stonewall found that one in five LGBT+ people had experienced a hate crime because of their sexuality or gender identity in the preceding 12 months.
The same report revealed that 80% of these incidents go unreported, with younger LGBT+ people less likely than any others to go to the police.
There have been a number of high-profile hate crimes recently. Last week, gay porn star Wesley Woods opened up in a Twitter video about how he and a friend were beaten up for being gay in West Hollywood while out walking.
In the video, he said: “You’re not always safe in the places you think you are.”
Police in the UK also recently issued an appeal for help after a man was left with a broken back in a suspected homophobic attack after Pride in London last month.
A pride event in Kiev in June saw around 200 anti-LGBT+ protesters turning out, and organisers of the parade also received death threats online on the day of the march.
Despite this, attitudes in Ukraine to LGBT+ people are thought to have shifted in recent years, with a 2017 poll showing that 56% of Ukrainian people believing that gay and bisexual people should enjoy equal rights.