Kiev (AFP) – Ukrainian police said Sunday they had detained 56 far-right activists who tried to disrupt a gay pride march in central Kiev, which saw around 5,000 people take part and a huge security presence.
Around 150 members of a far-right group blocked the planned route of the march before it began, with several of them throwing gas canisters at police.
Five officers had to seek medical treatment, police said.
The march later took place without incident as participants with rainbow flags and multi-coloured hair walked through the capital.
The number of participants was roughly double that of the previous year. US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and Rebecca Harms from the European Parliament were at the front of the march.
Along the way supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights were guarded by another 5,000 officers, including mounted police.
“There must always be the police, otherwise someone will come, otherwise someone will interrupt, otherwise someone will attack,” 19-year-old Liza, who was on the march, told AFP.
“I think this is not the way it should be in a civilized country,” she added.
“We just want to show that we are here — all different, but all equal,” Svitlana, a 20-year-old LGBT activist said.
Not only the far-right activists came to protest against the march, but also people who said they were defenders of “traditional family values”.
“Gay parades are a propaganda of gay dictatorship,” Larysa, a 52-year-old woman told AFP.
“They can do what they want, but we are against the propaganda, against implantation of this to our children,” she complained.
Homophobia is still commonplace in post-Soviet Ukraine, but Kiev authorities are attempting to demonstrate their tolerance by allowing pride marches to take place, in contrast to neighbouring Russia.