Ukrainian court bans Pride march

A Ukrainian court last week banned an LGBT Pride march that had been scheduled to take place in the city of Odessa on Saturday.

The Odessa District Administrative Court issued its ruling in response to a petition from city lawmakers on Aug. 13, based on what Radio Free Europe described as the potential “real danger and threat to public order in the city, as well as to health and lives of participants and other citizens.” The decision noted two soccer games were scheduled to take place in the Ukrainian port city on Aug. 14 and Aug. 16 respectively and hooligans would likely attack the Pride march participants.Agence France-Presse reported that masked men on Saturday threw smoke bombs into a venue at which advocates had scheduled a forum.

LGBT rights advocates on Aug. 14 gathered outside the Ukrainian Embassy in D.C. to protest the ruling. U.S. Embassy in Kiev Chargé d’Affaires Bruce Donahue also criticized the decision in a statement he released on Monday.

“A government has no more important task than to protect and defend the fundamental freedoms and human rights of its people,” said Donahue. “That’s why we were disappointed when this weekend, in Odesa, LGBT activists were denied the opportunity to freely assemble, faced harassment and had smoke bombs thrown at them for advocating for expanded civil rights and equal protections. As a vibrant, multicultural, cosmopolitan crossroads, Odesa has extraordinary potential — but it must ensure that the rights of vulnerable groups are not overlooked or ignored, and that all people have the right to live free from violence and discrimination.”

“As President Obama has said, LGBT rights are human rights,” he added. “The United States strongly supports those in Ukraine working to ensure that all people — including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons — enjoy equal rights and equal protections under the law.”

The Odessa event was to have taken place slightly more than two months after members of Pravy Sektor, a Ukrainian nationalist group, attacked police officers during an LGBT Pride march in Kiev.

Ukraine’s LGBT rights record remains poor compared to other European countries, despite President Petro Poroshenko’s efforts to forge closer ties with Brussels.

Bogdan Globa, executive director of Fulcrum, a Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade in June 2014 during an interview at PFLAG’s D.C. offices that the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine that is controlled by pro-Russian separatists has banned the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors. He said members of a paramilitary group that support the Kremlin attacked a gay party at a Donetsk nightclub last year before he and his mother, Helen Globa, co-founder of Tergo, a support group for parents and friends of LGBT traveled to the U.S.