Ukraine holds its first major gay pride march in Kiev
KIEV - Associated PressAround a thousand people turned up on June 12 for Ukraine's first major gay pride march which was held amid tight security measures in the capital Kiev.
Several thousand police forces were guarding the procession in central Kiev and the rally was peaceful despite far-right groups making threats last week to attack it.
People were marching with rainbow flags and carried placards saying "Love has no gender."
"The road to equality in Ukraine is difficult as well as dangerous," Bohdan Hloba, one of the rally's organizers, said. "We have been threatened with a 'bloodbath' but every step of this march gives us hope."
Authorities sanctioned gay rights marches when the new pro-Western government came into power after the 2014 revolution, but earlier gatherings have been small and have come under attack from far-right groups.
The Kiev city police cordoned off nine streets and closed one subway station Sunday to ensure tight security and prevent clashes. A few anti-gay activists did get in, however, although they were not violent.
"I'm against gay propaganda that these sick people have organized here in collusion with authorities," said Serhiy Hashchenko, a 56-year-old father of 12 who went to the march carrying a placard "Ukraine is no Sodom."
Ultra-nationalist radicals who have threatened to disperse the march were watching it from the security perimeter lined with riot police.
Ukrainian police chief Khatiya Dekanoizdze said the police was following ultra-nationalist groups and detained 57 people before and during the rally.
Last year, a gay pride march in Kiev was called off less than half an hour after it began as right-wing activists pelted the marchers with smoke grenades.