Tear gas against equality festival

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the attack on the Equality festival in Ukraine leaving several people injured.

About The Equality Festival:

  • A cultural event organized by the LGBTIQ organization Insight several times per year around Ukraine, with the aim to draw attention to the challenges and diversity for Ukraine’s most vulnerable groups.
  • Using exhibitions, concerts, films and debates, it brings people together to promote the rights of sexual and gender minorities, women, ethnic minorities, people with special needs, migrants, internally displaced persons and homeless people.
  • Several of the festivals have been supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

About 60 festival attendees gathered to celebrate diversity and human rights in the city of Zaporizhia last Saturday. As many as 200 right-wing extremists, many of them with their faces covered, tried to block the entrance and threw flammable objects and tear gas against the crowd.

Several of the young people – some of them minors – were beaten and one of them is still being treated in hospital. The police investigate the case as hooliganism.

– This is hate crime, not hooliganism, says Mina Skouen, senior advisor on LGBTI issues in NHC.


Right-wing extremists threw flammable objects and tear gas against the crowd. Photo: Insight Public Organization  

The attackers claimed that they would not allow for such “propaganda” and demanded that the event would be cancelled. Festivals organized by NHCs partner “Insight”, have been attacked repeatedly since 2014.

– Investigate

NHC urges Ukrainian authorities to investigate and to take necessary precautions to improve the safety for the LGBTIQ community in Ukraine.

– Ukraine is making progress on legislative level when it comes to the rights of LGBTI persons. But the events this weekend show that there is an urgent need for dealing with homophobic and transphobic violence, says Skouen.

Several injured at the Equality Festival in Ukraine. Photo: Insight Public Organization