First Pride Rally Held In Kyiv Since Russia's Full-Scale Invasion

First Pride Rally Held In Kyiv Since Russia's Full-Scale Invasion

Several hundred LGBT activists and their supporters, including Ukrainian soldiers, marched in central Kyiv on June 16 to demand the government grant them more rights as they took part in the first Pride march in the Ukrainian capital since Russia launched its full-scale invasion more than two years ago.

Protected by riot police, demonstrators demanded the legalization of civil unions and harsh penalties for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Staff from the U.S. Embassy and several European embassies attended the rally on one of the central streets of Kyiv as participants shouted slogans such as, "It's always time for human rights."

In addition to seeking legal reforms to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, campaigners are seeking changes in the law to allow people in those partnerships to make medical decisions for wounded soldiers and bury victims of the war.

Viktor Pylypenko, a Ukrainian soldier who has served as a rifleman and paramedic in the Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Donetsk regions, told RFE/RL his group brought two messages to the march, each one displayed on banners.

One called on the world to "stop procrastinating" and send Ukraine more weapons and air-defense systems, he said. The other demanded the Ukrainian president and parliament "stop procrastinating" on the implementation of European values and on the introduction of human rights for groups that face discrimination.

Others said LGBT soldiers serving in the military are fighting the same as others and only want equal treatment under the law in their relationships and other aspects of their lives.

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