Far-right militants attack transgender activists with smoke bombs and pepper spray at rally in Ukraine

Two women and man injured as 30 marchers met with violence in Kiev

Colin Drury
Sunday 18 November 2018 21:51
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Demonstrators get medical help during a rally for transgender rights in Kiev, Ukraine
Demonstrators get medical help during a rally for transgender rights in Kiev, Ukraine

Transgender activists marching through Kiev have been attacked by far-right militants.

Smoke bombs and pepper spray were used to target the rally in the Ukraine capital, reports say.

At least two women are understood to have suffered minor injuries, while a Canadian journalist, Michael Colborne, says he was punched in the face during the disturbance.

Police separated the two groups by corralling the transgender rights supporters into a nearby underground station and blocking the entrance.

“It is difficult to accept that some people are ready to resort to violence simply because other people are slightly different,” one marcher, who gave their name only as Elis, told the BBC.

The trouble flared as the activists – who numbered fewer than 40 – gathered on Sunday under a series of rainbow flags and banners demanding discrimination “must be stopped”.

They said they wanted greater LGBTQ+ recognition and rights in a country where homophobia is still widespread across all levels of society.

But the group ran into difficulty after counter-demonstrators occupied its planned protest area at Shevchenko Park, then followed them to a re-arranged point.

Christopher Miller, an American journalist in Kiev, tweeted that it was then the militants started to throw smoke bombs.

He said police intervened by focusing strong-arm tactics against the trans-activists themselves: “journalist & activists were pushed & shoved by riot police into metro against our will,” he reported.

Organisers later said the incident demonstrated "the level of far-right radical aggression and violence is increasing in Ukraine".

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Kateryna Zelenko, spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said law enforcement agencies were investigating the incident.

In a tweet, she added: “Attacks on journalists, as well as any manifestations of intolerance and violence, are considered unacceptable.”

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