September 3, 2015 at 8:06 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Ukrainian LGBT group’s community center attacked

B'More Proud, gay news, Washington Blade

A group of assailants attacked a Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group’s community center in the city of Kryvyi Rih earlier this week.

A Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group said a group of people attacked one of their community centers on Monday.

Gay Alliance Ukraine in a press release said a group of at least six people wearing masks threw fireworks into their community center in the city of Kryvyi Rih at around 8:30 p.m. as a meeting was taking place.

The group said the assailants attacked one of the seven people who were attending the meeting, causing a concussion and injuries to their face. Gay Alliance Ukraine in the press release noted the attackers “smashed” furniture and other items inside the apartment where the community center was located.

Gay Alliance Ukraine said that people who were at a nearby café during the incident said there were “significantly more people” in front of the community center who did not go inside. The group said the assailants fled before local authorities arrived.

The advocacy group in their press release said the incident took place a day after a “private LGBT party” in Kryvyi Rih, which is roughly 250 miles southeast of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, was attacked. Gay Alliance Ukraine said those behind the aforementioned incident — including the leader of a Ukrainian nationalist organization that operates in the region — did not organize the attack on their community center.

“The attack of right-wing radical organizations that occurred in Kryvyi Rih is terrible and unacceptable,” Bogdan Globa, executive director of Fulcrum, a Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Thursday.

Reports of acts of anti-LGBT violence committed by members of Ukrainian nationalist groups have increased since the beginning of the year. They are also taking place against the backdrop of the ongoing war between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country.

Members of Pravy Sektor in June attacked police officers during an LGBT Pride march in Kiev.

An Odessa court last month banned an LGBT Pride march that had been scheduled to take place in the Black Sea port city, citing the “real danger and threat to public order in the city, as well as to health and lives of participants and other citizens.” A group of masked men on Aug. 15 threw smoke bombs into a building at which local LGBT rights advocates had scheduled a forum.

Ukraine’s LGBT rights record remains poor in comparison to other European countries, despite President Petro Poroshenko’s efforts to forge closer ties with Brussels.

Ukrainian lawmakers last year approved an anti-discrimination measure without sexual orientation and gender identity. Pro-Russian separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine have banned the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors.

“One of the main functions of the state is to protect citizens,” said Gay Alliance Ukraine in their press release. “Gay Alliance Ukraine appeals to the law enforcement authorities with the demand (that they) not only punish the guilty in the incident, but also do everything in their power to protect lives, health and basic rights of the citizens of Ukraine.”

Olena Shevchenko of Insight, another Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group, told the Blade on Thursday that her country’s government has ignored right-wing violence and pretends that “nothing serious is happening.” Globa agreed, noting Poroshenko on Aug. 25 approved a strategy to promote human rights that does not include a call to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The Ukrainian government doesn’t do enough to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and hate crimes,” Globa told the Blade. “This fact gives the signal to radical parties that the government is not ready to protect the LGBT community. All these reasons resulted in an increase of attacks and aggression towards homosexual citizens.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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