Pride Month: Anti-LGBT Protester Tries, Fails to Tear Banner at Ukraine's Biggest Ever Pride Parade

As thousands of people marched through the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev in support of Pride month on Sunday, the few hundred anti-LGBT protesters in the crowd saw their voices drowned out by overwhelming support for the LGBT community.

Ukranian politicians and foreign diplomats joined as many as 8,000 people in what was the biggest and most peaceful Pride parade the former Soviet country has ever seen, according to Reuters.

However, Sunday's march was not without its scuffles, with one anti-LGBT protester rushing at demonstrators before trying—and failing—to tear a large banner celebrating "KYIVPRIDE" in a moment caught on video by the press agency.

Crowds of people, many dressed in bright colors, paraded along streets in the center of the Ukrainian capital to celebrate ‘Pride Month’. More here:

— Reuters (@Reuters) June 24, 2019

Video posted to Twitter by Reuters shows demonstrators marching peacefully before a protester leaps out at them and grabs at their Pride banner with both hands, apparently in an attempt to tear it. At least two demonstrators can be seen trying to pull the protester away from the banner, as the others try to keep hold of the sign.

While the footage ends there, later images of the scuffle captured by photographer Genya Savilov show police officers detaining the protester, while the "KYIVPRIDE" banner appears intact.

Newsweek has contacted Kiev police and Pride parade organizers for comment on the incident.

While the protester was among several hundred activists who sought to disrupt Sunday's celebrations, there were no reports of incidents of serious violence at the march.

Ruslana Panukhnyk, one of the organizers of the annual pride march, told Reuters following the event that she was "satisfied with the cooperation with the police."

"There were some small incidents, but no injuries," she said, adding: "The most important [thing] for us is human rights."

According to Reuters, police detained nine men on Saturday who were planning protests, but police said they had not seen any reason to detain anyone on Sunday.

Compared with last year's event, which saw police detain 56 members of nationalist groups over scuffles in the lead-up to the march, 2019's parade was overall considered a peaceful event.

The success of the parade, which saw at least 3,000 more people in attendance than last year's event, comes following the election of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a former comedian who took office last month. Zelenskiy campaigned on a vow to promote tolerance in the country, with the new leader vowing to stand for equality for all.

The president's office also reportedly urged police to be on guard and work to prevent any potential violence at the event.

"Ukraine's Constitution states that citizens have equal constitutional rights and freedoms," it said in a post on its Facebook page on Sunday morning.

In a Twitter statement, William B. Taylor, charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine joined in sharing that sentiment, writing: "We stand with all Ukrainians striving for equality and non-discrimination."

Meanwhile, Judith Gough, the British ambassador to Ukraine, who took part in the march, thanked police and other law enforcement agencies "for protecting today's Pride event in Kiev."

While Ukraine's government has shown growing support for LGBT rights since 2014, when Western-backed leadership came into power, surveys have found homophobic attitudes to still be prevalent in the country.

One such study published by independent think tank Democratic Initiatives last December, saw 40 percent of residents say they would not want to have "homosexuals" as their neighbors.

The LGBT community has also faced repeated shows of hostility from Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, with violent street attacks being carried out against its members.

Protester, Kiev Pride Parade
Police officers detain a protester during the annual Pride parade in Kiev, on June 23, 2019. More than 8,000 people turned out on June 23 for Kiev's annual Gay Pride parade amid tight security as far-right activists sought to disrupt the celebration. Genya SAVILOV/AFP/Getty