by Leander Milbrecht
On the occasion of the international coming-out day, a 140-metre high rainbow flag shone over the city. The slogan: “It is good to be different together!” The organisers of KyivPride wanted to set an example against the increasing queer-hatred, especially in Eastern Europe.
Update, 16:30: In the meantime, the action has been stopped due to protests by right-wing national groups. Further information at the end of the article.
The Gulliver Mall is one of the tallest buildings in Ukraine. The 35-storey shopping and entertainment centre is so high that it can be seen almost everywhere in the centre of the Ukrainian capital. Every evening from 5 to 11 October, a particularly important message will now be broadcast here throughout Kiev.
At five-minute intervals between 6.30 pm and 10 pm the rainbow flag will be projected and the slogan “It’s good to be different together!” will flash across the huge facade. In the background, night-time Kiev and a dark sky: a great – and important – sight. The ones responsible want to defy the growing wave of homophobia that is spreading in Eastern Europe.
The colourful message is timed to coincide with the International Coming Out Day on 11 October. This day is about visibility and the power of one’s voice, said Ruslana Panuchnyk, director of the NGO KyivPride.
“On this day, which is important for the entire LGBT+ community, we want to emphasise once again that together and under all circumstances, including pandemic conditions and quarantine restrictions, we are stronger. We are walking side by side towards a better future for all”.
Rise of right-wing extremism and queer hostility
The organisers of the campaign wrote on Facebook: “After reading some comments and reactions to the campaign, we would like to say one more thing: Be kind to the freedom of others! Kiev belongs to everyone!”
The colourful solidarity campaign will be even more significant as Ukraine, like many parts of Europe, is currently fighting against a rise in right-wing extremism – combined with an increasingly anti-queer mood.
Last month a Pride event in the Ukrainian city of Odessa was attacked by right-wing extremists. The hooligans threw eggs and bottles at the queers and attacked them with pepper spray. The organisers of the event complained afterwards that the police had remained inactive for too long.
KyivPride expressed his hope that the colourful action at Gulliver Mall would contribute to a more positive discussion about queer rights and remind the city’s residents that “there are no boundaries in love”.
Shattered hope in Kiev
After protests by right-wing nationalist groups, including the extreme right-wing National Corps party, the action came to a surprising end. KyivPride expressed its incomprehension and anger about this on Facebook. It was inconceivable that a small group of right-wing nationalists could decide who had human rights in Ukraine and who did not. They declared:
“The development of European civil society is not possible when radical right-wing minorities dictate the rules of freedom and life to others”.
The organisers are planning a protest action to be held on the evening of 11 October in the square in front of Gulliver Mall.
- ukrainebild2: by YouTube/Kyiv Pride
- odessa-pride-foto-polizei-odessa: by Odessa Police
- ukrainebild: by YouTube/Kyiv Pride
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