Ukraine LGBTQ military union 'concerned' about attacks on Pride march

Ukrainian LGBTQ activists on Saturday warned of potential violence against this weekend’s Kyiv Pride parade amid pressures from far-right groups and the Russian war.

Sunday’s event is the first parade in the capital since the beginning of the Russian invasion, which Kyiv often portrays as an existential fight to be part of the West and its liberal values.

“We are seriously concerned about possible attacks on march participants,” the LGBTIQ+ military union that defends the rights of veterans and soldiers said on Instagram.

The march will be held in a closed format — with 500 people attending — while its location and time have been kept confidential.

The LGBTQ military group said it “will regard any physical assaults as acts of Russian agent networks aimed at undermining Ukraine’s image”.

Ukraine has throughout the war emphasised its liberal positions, placing Kyiv closer to European values in contrast with Russia’s increased repression of LGBTQ people.

Acceptance of gay, lesbian and transgender people in Ukraine has grown, several polls show.

The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology said the share of people holding negative views on the communities decreased from 38 to 34 percent between May 2022 and June 2023.

But parts of society remain conservative, and some have railed against the parade, even staging a small counter-protest in front of the city hall this week.

Others spread threats on social media and urged to stop the parade.

Organisers had hoped to hold the event in the Kyiv metro, but the city refused permission earlier this month “in order not to endanger the participants and passengers, and to avoid possible provocations”.

Pride events before the war featured heavy police presence and had some years been attacked by far-right groups.