The first LGBTQ Pride march in the Ukrainian city of Odessa was held on Saturday, after officials initially banned the event, bringing out over 50 community members who marched with rainbow flags and signs and chanted, “Everyone’s different, everyone’s equal.”
It was only the second city in all of Ukraine to hold such an event, the first being in Kiev.
“Today you are making history,” Zoryan Kis, an LGBTQ activist and one of the organizers of Kiev Pride, told the crowd. Kis said Odessa Pride would have been impossible just one year ago. In fact, a march had been planned in Odessa but had been cancelled over security concerns.
The event had been cancelled the day before, with local authorities citing safety concerns as far right activists were planning to gather there as well. Organizers told NBC Out that this is a popular tactic to cancel public events in the city.
Odessa Pride March. Via YouTube, NBC Out.
The marchers were protected by 700 police officers, reports Transitions Online. The march was held in a different location – near the historic Potemkin Stairs – than originally planned to help ensure it could take place.
“We know that there is a threat from small extremist groups that operate in Odessa,” Anna Leonova, an organizer of Odessa Pride, told NBC OUT. “But I don’t believe that in our city there are forces that…may constitute a danger for us.”
Nationalist youth clashed with police at Odessa Pride after trying to attack those marching. Via YouTube, NBC Out.
A group of white nationalist youth tried to break through the police barrier to attack the marchers, but they were stopped. 20 of them were detained by police, but allowed to go free after two hours of conversation at the police station.
According to Dumskaya, a local news site, the attackers introduced themselves as members of the organization “Sokol” (“Falcon”), whose self-description is “a public organization for athletic-nationalistic youth, [which] is not indifferent to the fate of the white race and the national idea.”