Police in the Ukraine capital of Kiev arrested 56 members of far-right radical groups after they tried to thwart the LGBT pride parade there on Sunday. Before the Kiev Pride parade was set to begin, more than 150 protesters tried to block off the route of the march through the center of the city. Small clashes broke out when police in riot gear moved to clear the street.
Far-right group C14 said police had surrounded its protesters, attacking them with batons and tear gas. “Look at how they protect ‘sexual minorities’ and violate the rights of regular Kiev citizens,” it said in a post on Facebook.
“Several men who resisted and used gas canisters against law enforcement officers were detained,” the police said in a statement.
Otherwise, the annual rally of several thousand supporters of LGBT rights took place without serious incident. About 5,000 were on hand for the march, whose size was estimated at 2,000 by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry and up to 6,000 by organizers. The number of participants was roughly double that of the previous year. The United States ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, and Rebecca Harms of the European Parliament were at the front of the march.
Some previous gay pride rallies in Ukraine have ended in violence. The 2015 Kiev Pride was disbanded when neo-Nazis attacked marchers, which they promised to do again the following year. However, the demonstration has gone on successfully without incident against participants every year since 2016.
“There must always be the police, otherwise someone will come, otherwise someone will interrupt, otherwise someone will attack,” a 19-year-old demonstrator named Liza told Agence France-Presse. “I think this is not the way it should be in a civilized country.”
Both same-sex marriage and adoption by gay couples are still illegal in Ukraine.