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Ukraine holds first major gay pride march

Published 12/06/2016

Ukrainian gay rights activists pose for a selfie as they take part in a event in Kiev, Ukraine (AP)
Ukrainian gay rights activists pose for a selfie as they take part in a event in Kiev, Ukraine (AP)

Around 1,000 people have gathered in Kiev for Ukraine's first major gay pride march.

Several thousand police officers were guarding the procession in the capital and the rally was peaceful despite far-right groups making threats last week to attack it.

People were marching with rainbow flags and carried placards saying: "Love has no gender."

Bohdan Hloba, one of the rally's organisers, said: "The road to equality in Ukraine is difficult as well as dangerous.

"We have been threatened with a 'bloodbath' but every step of this march gives us hope."

Authorities sanctioned gay rights marches when the new pro-Western government came into power after the 2014 revolution, but earlier gatherings have been small and have come under attack from far-right groups.

The Kiev city police cordoned off nine streets and closed one subway station on Sunday to ensure tight security and prevent clashes.

However, a few anti-gay activists did get in, although they were not violent.

"I'm against gay propaganda that these sick people have organised here in collusion with authorities," said Serhiy Hashchenko, a 56-year-old father of 12 who went to the march carrying a placard saying "Ukraine is no Sodom".

Ultra-nationalist radicals who had threatened to disperse the march were watching it from the security perimeter lined with riot police.

Last year, a gay pride march in Kiev was called off less than half an hour after it began as right-wing activists pelted the marchers with smoke grenades.

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