Far-right activists in Ukraine attempted to hinder the European Lesbian Conference (ELC) in Kiev on Thursday by engaging in fights with security guards.
Several dozen protestors descended on the hotel that was hosting the conference, tried to break through security lines, and sprayed tear gas at the guards, according to Olena Shevchenko, head of the local LGBTQ group Insight, in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
According to the Associated Press, the assailants held placards with phrases such as “We are against gays” and “Go back to hell, sodomites.” Oksana Pokalchuk, director of Amnesty International in Ukraine, tweeted that “They are shouting “
#LGBT go away!” and trying to enter the venue.”
They are shouting “#LGBT go away!” and trying to enter the venue.
(Sorry for the vertical video). pic.twitter.com/zP1BcHTzUg
— Oksana Pokalchuk (@OPokalchuk) April 11, 2019
Margarita Korotkikh, one far-right protestor present at the event, told the AP that the goal is “to put pressure on the government and explain that heterosexuals are against LGBT propaganda.”
Reuters also reported that about 35 protestors appeared again on Friday, though the crowd was mostly women from religious groups who held a peaceful and less violent demonstration outside the venue.
This event highlights just how much the LGBTQ community struggles for acceptance in Ukraine. The country’s ultra-right groups are constantly growing more assertive and aggressive, and LGBTQ and women’s rights groups see the most assaults on their events. International rights groups have criticized Ukraine before about failing to punish such far-right groups for violence and intimidation.