Members of Congress Urge Ukrainian Government to Protect Participants in LGBT Pride Events
Human Rights First today applauded the co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus for expressing support for the protection of the human rights of Ukraine’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. In a statement released today, the group urged Ukrainian leaders to protect all participants in Odessa Pride and ensure that the event will not be derailed by threats or incidents of violence.
“On behalf of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I commend the leadership of Ukraine for actions taken to ensure that Kiev’s Pride celebrations were able to take place in an atmosphere of safety and respect, and urge the Ukrainian government to take similar measures to ensure the safety of Odessa Pride participants,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. David N. Cicilline (RI-01). “Celebration of LGBT Pride honors our identities and community and serves as a connection point for LGBT people everywhere. The June 12th murder of 49 LGBT community members at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando drove home the importance of being able to celebrate Pride in a safe place. Therefore, the success of Odessa Pride this August, as well as the safety of its participants, is of the utmost importance to us.”
In May of this year a group of 38 members of Congress wrote to the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States raising alarm over the persecution of the country’s LGBT community, and calling on leadership to ensure the safety of participants in upcoming Pride events. One of those events, Kiev Pride, was successfully carried out with minimal incidents of violence.
In March, Equality Festival Lviv was forced to cancel its weekend events after venues retracted sponsorship, the local government banned all public events, and masked assailants issued an anonymous bomb threat. Local authorities failed to provide adequate protection in response to threats against the festival. Activists reported that at least two individuals trying to attend the festival were severely beaten and police failed to investigate these crimes. With the successful protection of participants in June’s Kiev Pride, however, there are hopes that the situation for the LGBT community is improving in Ukraine.
“After the success of Kiev’s Pride we hope that effective protection of the basic rights of LGBT Ukrainians is now the norm. We welcome the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus’s willingness to engage with Ukraine’s leadership on this important issue,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “During Pride season, it is imperative that the United States engage with governments around the world, especially those with embattled LGBT communities.”
Odessa’s Pride is scheduled to begin August 10th and conclude with a march on August 14th.