Far-right militants attacked a rally in support of trans rights held in Ukraine on Sunday (November 18).
Led by the non-governmental organisation Insight, trans rights campaigners gathered in Ukraine capital’s Kiyv to demand an end to transphobia ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed on November 20.
According to American journalist Christopher Miller, who reported about the rally on Twitter, a group of religious and far-right militants confronted the LGBT+ activists early in the afternoon at a park in the city, forcing them to change the location of the rally.
Holding banners, rainbow and transgender flags, a group of around 40 LGBT+ campaigners relocated in front of the University metro station, to continue their legally-sanctioned rally.
But counter-protesters attacked them with smoke bombs, shouting homophobic slurs.
“Things got heated. Police made no attempts to move radicals and instead shoved LGBT activists into metro. As they did, they swore and used hateful slurs to describe them” Miller wrote, describing the events on Twitter.
Police officers “deny the charge,” BBC reported.
Far-right Violence at trans rights rally part of growing trend
Among those injured were two women who had to receive medical treatment in the underground station after being pepper-sprayed, AFP reported.
“Today’s events have demonstrated that the level of far-right radical aggression and violence is increasing in Ukraine,” the NGO Insight wrote in a statement on Facebook after the trans rights rally, decrying the authorities’ failure of guaranteeing their safety and support for human rights.
LGBT+ campaigners in Ukraine have previously held various demonstrations, including gay pride celebrations. But as the arrest of 56 far-right protesters seeking to disrupt the annual Kiyv pride earlier this year suggests, homophobia remains widespread.
Ahead of the trans rights rally, Amnesty International Ukraine denounced “a wave of threats” from radical groups directed at participants and organisers of LGBT+ events.
“We hope that law enforcement will fulfil its duty at the highest level and protect the right of citizens to peaceful gatherings,” the Amnesty International statement read.
Canadian journalist Michael Colborne, who was also covering the trans rights march, was punched in the face. “This country has a huge far-right problem. Stop downplaying it,” he wrote in one of his tweets.
Colborne also criticised the authorities for how they handled the far-right militants confronting the LGBT+ campaigners’ peaceful demonstration.
“A pretty poor job, considering this ain’t my first rodeo covering LGBT/far-right in this city. You’ve let a mob of far-right kids boss around a group of less than 100 #трансмарш2018 #transmarchukraine marchers & push them somewhere else. Terrible job, guys. Terrible.”
Canadian ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk posted a tweet in solidarity with the Canadian journalist.
“Criminal and hateful actions by far-right radicals deserve an effective and dissuasive policing response. [The Ukrainian national police] have shown they can do it at past LGBT events; they need to reassert commitment to media protection and human rights for all,” Waschuk wrote.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko also expressed consternation at news of Colborne’s assult.
“As a Ukrainian diplomat and a journalist, I am upset and disappointed by the attack on Michael Colborne. It is not the Kyiv we love and cherish. The perpetrators should be quickly brought to justice!”