An LGBT festival in Lviv, Ukraine, came to a violent stop after 200 anti-LGBT protesters surrounded the hotel and allegedly sent a bomb threat, according to Ukrainian Today. The organizers called the police, who reportedly took an hour to arrive. Festival attendees were evacuated from the venue by bus while protesters threw rocks at the vehicle and chanted “kill, kill, kill!”
An organizer for the event, Olena Shevchenko, told The Guardian that there were issues with a previous hotel they had initially booked for the festival.
“[T]he hotel we had booked for people coming from outside Lviv told us we could not stay there,” Shevchenko said. “When we arrived, the administrator told us the city authorities informed them we were perverts, they had Googled us and said people like us should burn in hell.”
The festival, which includes movies, discussions and workshops, also received threats at their previous venue.
Public officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Washuk and Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin have spoken out in support of the organizers and the larger LGBT community in Ukraine,condemning the attack
“Yesterday’s events in Lviv are a result of a carefully planned provocation,” Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy wrote in a Facebook post where he blamed LGBT organizers for the violence. “Participants from both sides were conscious or unconscious parts of the whole picture.”
The fight for LGBT rights within Ukraine is playing out within a broader geopolitical struggle between Russia and the European Union (EU). Since passing the homosexual propaganda law in 2013, Russian authorities have increasingly used anti-LGBT schemes to define the country in opposition to the West. However, in November, HRC hailed the passage of significant non-discrimination legislation in the Ukrainian Parliament that will provide needed workplace protections for LGBT citizens and others throughout the country.
HRC will continue to closely monitor the unfolding situation in Ukraine.