russia / ukraine

Ukraine’s gay community lives in Russia’s shadow

Across Ukraine’s western border, gay Ukrainians are watching nervously as Russia increasingly seeks to bring its Western neighbor Ukraine under the influence of the Kremlin.

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, gay men and women have become the political scapegoats of choice. Violence against the LGBT community that is inflicted and permitted by the police is commonplace, and state policies severely scaling back gay rights have become the law of the land.

They call it “contagion.” As violence against gays in Russia nears its highest point in decades, Ukraine’s gay community is more determined than ever to keep the country from falling farther under Putin’s influence. While being gay in Ukraine is no picnic and the entire region is a hotbed of homophobia, modest advances in the country have been made – advances that are now on the line.

In May, Ukraine held its first ever Pride march, an event Olena Semenova, one of the organizers, stated would “go down in the history of Ukraine as one of the key developments in the fight for equal rights.” Although the March originally was canceled by court order, campaigners chose to push ahead anyway. As in Russia, ultra-Orthodox protesters attempted to disturb the campaigners, yet, unlike in Russia, the Ukrainian police held back the zealots.

(read on)

(source: truth-out.org, Sep-16-13)

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