Came to fight: Ukraine’s LGBT leader beaten upon canceling gay parade

Unidentified people beat Svyatoslav Sheremet in Kiev, May 20, 2012 (Reuters/Anatolii Stepanov)
Conflict for conflict’s sake is what some anti-gay campaigners in Ukraine were apparently seeking as yet another LGBT parade failed to march through Kiev. As Ukraine's Gay Forum head called the action off, hooligans cornered the man to beat him up.

­The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community of Ukraine were diverted from their gay pride route on Sunday, as half a thousand of nationalists and anti-gay activists arrived at the parade’s meeting point in downtown Kiev. Some ultra-right and religious campaigners were merely holding placards reading “No to gays!” but police reports said nationalists were firm in their resolve to attack the march.

Observing the unexpected threat, as the meeting point had supposedly been kept secret, the gay pride leaders took the rueful decision to cancel the action. But it appears some anti-gay demonstrators did not want to give up on their hopes to beat up an LGBT-er so easily.

As Svyatoslav Sheremet, the leader of Ukraine’s Gay Forum, finished telling journalists the parade was canceled over security concerns, a bunch of young men in balaclavas cornered him and another activist in the street.

It was seven or ten of them. I could not defend myself as the attackers had pepper spray and I had to protect my eyes. I fell to the ground and was kicked. When I got up, they ran away,” Sheremet told the Ukrainian news website

The LGBT activist got away with minor injuries. He says he would not be able to recognize the attackers. “They looked like typical street gang members,” sighs Sheremet.

Still, he does not think aggression against the LGBT movement in Ukraine is anything exceptional.

Our society is very divided. Many hate many. This happens in any country with poor social welfare. So those attacking LGBT will be attacking other minorities,” he says.

Amnesty International has accused the Kiev police of connivance, though the police had 10 buses with law enforcers along the route.

It has been clear from the start that the Kiev Police Department did not want this march to go ahead. Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organizers fearing for their safety,” said Max Tucker, the NGO’s head.