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Kyiv Pride 2018 started on June 8, and wraps up on June 17. This year’s theme, Visibility, was selected via a poll of LGBTQ people and organizations. There will be a number of Pride week events, including discussions, workshops, film screenings and more.
According to surveys, 90% of Ukrainians are convinced that LGBTQ people don’t exist — at least, not in Ukraine. Obviously, that’s not true. LGBTQ people study, shop, go to hospitals, work in all areas and pay taxes. Our community is as diverse as Ukrainian society as a whole is. LGBTQ people have different views, ages, professions; there’s extroverts and introverts, law-abiding citizens and criminals, religious people and atheists, and so on.
And like most Ukrainian citizens, LGBTQ people face injustic, poverty and human rights abuses. But there are also additional barriers for LGBTQ people in Ukraine, as we don’t have all of the same rights and opportunities as other Ukrainians. (Though the same can be said for Ukraine’s other oppressed communities: women, Roma people, the disabled and more.)
People often tell our community that they should be silent and invisible. But if we can’t be seen or heard, we’re trapped. We have to come out about our orientation or gender identity so we can defend our rights.
Kyiv Pride is all about public visibility. Visibility belongs equally to everyone. That’s why Kyiv Pride is such an important event; it provides a platform for the public to see and hear all of their fellow citizens. Whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex or anything else, it’s important for everyone to be visible.We can make Ukraine better —together.
Iryna Bilyk, a well-known Ukrainian singer, will be one of the guests at Kyiv pride. She recorded a video camping out at the Germany Embassy in Ukraine in support of our community on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Her video shows 10 LGBTQ community representatives, including the video’s director, Yuri Dvizhon, who is also openly gay. The video was made in association with Kyiv Pride to help demonstrate LGBTQ visibility in Ukraine.
As they do every year, Munich’s LGBTQ community will send a delegation to Kyiv Pride 2018. The representatives wrote, “We’re not traveling on our own; the Munich city council has our backs. If everything goes to plan, Dieter Reiter, Munich’s mayor, will support us again and even send Lydia Dietrich, city councillor, as a delegate to Kyiv. (We hope Reiter even decides to join the event himself!) We’re participating in the Pride March, and we’ll have our own program meeting with LGBTQ organizations, activists, journalists and politicians. We’ll visit the German Embassy, the Goethe-Institut and other political foundations that support our work.”
Kyiv Pride was founded in 2012 by Ukrainian activists. At the time, human rights, and particularly LGBTQ rights, were constantly being violated. Hysteria was rising, provoked by homophobic and religious groups. Then-President Viktor Yanukovych introduced a bill banning “homosexual propaganda” modeled after the infamous Russian law; the bill was unanimously approved in 2013. After this series of affronts, the Ukrainian LGBTQ community couldn’t stay silent any longer, and Pride was founded.