March 18, 2016 at 12:09 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Threats made against Ukraine LGBT festival

Terry Stone, gay news, Washington Blade

A Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group claims “anonymous threats” have been made against a festival it is organizing in the city of Lviv. (Photo by torbakhopper; courtesy Flickr)

A Ukrainian advocacy organization has rejected calls to cancel an LGBT festival that is scheduled to take place in the city of Lviv this weekend.

Insight, the group behind the Equality Festival Lviv, said the museum that had agreed to host the event announced on Tuesday it would no longer do so because of “anonymous threats to commit physical violence and property destruction.” Insight noted the museum’s administrators also cited a lack of support from Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi factored into their decision.

Deputy Mayor Marta Litvinyuk told a local media outlet that the Lviv City Council had not “received any official request” from Insight about the event. She also noted that news of the festival on social media and in the media sparked outrage.

“The City Council considers it inappropriate to hold such events in Lviv, in order to guarantee the safety of all residents and visitors of our city,” said Litvinyuk.

Olena Shevchenko, a member of Insight, told the Washington Blade on Thursday that Lviv authorities “want us to cancel all public events and to hold everything else behind closed doors without any publicity.”

“The answer from us is no,” said Shevchenko. “We demand support for human rights and equality.”

Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First, a Washington-based human rights advocacy group, in a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on Tuesday urged his embassy to “dialogue with Ukrainian officials to ensure the safety and protection of participants in Equality Festival Lviv in 2016.”

Pyatt on Thursday responded to Gaylord’s letter in a series of tweets.

State Department spokesperson Noel Clay on Thursday reiterated Pyatt’s comments.

“We welcome assurances from Lviv’s authorities that they will take steps to allow the Equality Festival to take place safely and securely,” Clay told the Blade.

“In Ukraine and across the world, the United States strongly supports the rights of LGBTI individuals to express themselves freely without fear of arrest, violence, or retribution,” he added.

A gay man who lives in Lviv with his boyfriend told the Blade on Thursday that the festival doesn’t “really” have a lot of support.

“People are afraid and won’t actually participate in this,” said the man.

Lviv, which is the largest city in western Ukraine, is located near the country’s border with Poland.

This weekend’s festival is scheduled to take place less than a year after nationalists who sought to disrupt an LGBT Pride march in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev left nine police officers injured.

A court in the city of Odessa last August banned an LGBT Pride march, citing the “real danger and threat to public order in the city, as well as to health and lives of participants and other citizens.” Reports of anti-LGBT violence committed by members of Ukrainian nationalist groups have increased in recent years.

Members of the Ukrainian Parliament last November approved a proposed amendment to their country’s labor code that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status and other factors. The EU requires the former Soviet republic to ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in order to allow its citizens to travel to member countries without a visa.

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

  • This is not the first surprise the wondrous country of Ukraine has in store…
    Just because its stridently anti-Russian position suits the purpose of a lot of politicians in the West, the Ukrainian story has been allowed to get shaped by the Western mass media as a kind of a fairy tale. A new democracy fighting the awful Russian bear.
    In reality, it is anything but. Today’s Ukraine is an outpost of Nazism in Eastern Europe ruled by ruthless oligarchs waging war against their own people in the Donbass region. Its economy is ruined and pillaged by the powers-that-be, but who cares. They are our SOBs.
    A totally dreadful place lying to the whole surrounding world, and first of all to its own hapless citizens.

    • Ukraine was the first former Soviet nation to decriminalize sodomy. Also Ukraine is currently more tolerant to LGBT people than Russia.

    • Yiddish was an official language in Ukraine in 1918. The current president is Jewish. The mayor of the capital has Jewish grand-mother, his rival at the last election is an Israeli citizen. Still, this propaganda troll writes: Ukrainian are Nazis. The question is: who is financing this propaganda troll, and thousands of other propaganda trolls who write this defamation of Ukraine? Why this website nor any other media mentions that Ukraine has a Jewish president? That the previous president has a Jewish oligarch son in law?
      More on this on my twitter: @NNeandertalienE

  • Notice that the anti-gay countries have dictatorships which slow down the learning of their people. Eventually they will have to advance into the modern world which is based more on facts proven by science and not the old time, negative, hateful hoopla religions have published in religious books.

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.