This year, Ukrainian activists have decided to do Pride a little differently.
On Friday (30 July), members of newly-established NGO UkrainePride will drag their speakers and turntables across Kyiv to stage a huge rave outside the office of Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine.
The event comes just days after a successful Pride march supported by Amnesty Ukraine, which took place in the president’s hometown, Kryvyi Rih.
Police successfully protected the participants from homophobic groups.
— Oksana Pokalchuk (@OPokalchuk) July 25, 2021
None of this is solely about queer joy and hard-hitting electronica; at the core of these Pride protests is a demand to adopt LGBT+ anti-discrimination policies and address hate crimes in the country.
As it stands, activists don’t exactly have hope that president Zelensky is working towards these goals.
Despite alluding to progressive policies in his presidential campaign, advancements in LGBT+ rights haven’t moved forward as quickly as expected.
Not only has Zelensky failed to challenge support of a proposed “gay propaganda law” within his own party, human rights organisations have noted continued oppression of LGBT+ people by far-right parties as well as unaddressed hate crime and a reluctance by Zelensky to speak openly and at length to clarify his stance when it comes to anti-LGBT+ policies.
Activists protested outside the president’s office last month, but were swiftly removed by police.
Police escort LGBT activists after their protest outside the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev. Protesters are demanding an end to violence against them and the passage of a law to protect their rights.
Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images pic.twitter.com/FOV1iWyfLG
— Abdulsatar Bochnak (@AbdulsatarBoch1) June 6, 2021
Last year, Odessa’s Pride parade was targeted by neo-Nazis
Although Kyiv held its largest-ever Pride parade in 2019, an event in Odessa, a port city in southern Ukraine, was last year targeted by far-right thugs, who pelted attendees with eggs and attacked them with pepper spray.
Despite an outsized police presence, officers reportedly stood by while the violence unfolded.
The upcoming rave is a conscious decision by activists to find new ways to protest, which don’t necessarily have to rely on tried-and-tested blueprints of Pride parades.
In an interview with KyivPost, UkrainePride co-founder Sofiia Lapina explained: “Advocacy is any action that shines a light on the violations of a person’s rights, and UkrainePride is looking for the most diverse and creative ways to do that.”
As discriminatory policies continue to be drafted and queer communities remain marginalised by their governments, raving for LGBT+ rights represents a gloriously rowdy tactic to push for more progress.