With war, Kyiv pride parade becomes a peace march in Warsaw

Jun 24, 2022, 11:34 AM | Updated: Jun 25, 2022, 12:15 pm

              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' march for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' march for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              Warsaw's mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, second right, and European Commissioner for Equality, Hanna Dalli, right,  take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              Warsaw's mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, second right, and European Commissioner for Equality, Hanna Dalli, right,  take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              FILE - LGBT activists and their supporters gather for the first-ever pride parade in the central city of Plock, Poland, Saturday Aug. 10, 2019. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)
            
              FILE - People take part in the annual Gay Pride parade, under the protection of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
            
              FILE - People take part in the annual Gay Pride parade, under the protection of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
            
              FILE - A woman holds a poster depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Madrid, Spain, Friday Aug. 23, 2013 against Russia's new law on gays. Russia passed a law in 2013 that bans the depiction of homosexuality to minors, something human rights groups views as a way to demonize LGBT people and discriminate against them. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)
            
              FILE - Riot police detain a protester who is trying to stop Ukraine's first gay pride demonstration in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 25, 2013. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
            
              FILE - People take part in the annual Gay Pride parade, being protected by riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
            
              FILE - Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Russia passed a law in 2013 that bans the depiction of homosexuality to minors, something human rights groups views as a way to demonize LGBT people and discriminate against them. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
            
              FILE - Riot police stops Orthodox believers who are trying to stop Ukraine's first gay pride demonstration in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 25, 2013. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov, File)
            
              FILE - Russian police officers detain a gay rights activist with his flag during an attempt to hold a gay pride parade in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, May 27, 2012. Russia passed a law in 2013 that bans the depiction of homosexuality to minors, something human rights groups views as a way to demonize LGBT people and discriminate against them. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel, File)
            
              FILE - Gay and lesbian rights activists perform during the annual Gay Pride parade, protected by riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 17, 2018. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File)
            
              FILE - A Russian Gay Rights protester is taken away by riot police officers in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 16, 2009. Russia passed a law in 2013 that bans the depiction of homosexuality to minors, something human rights groups views as a way to demonize LGBT people and discriminate against them. (AP Photo/Roustem Adagamov, File)
            
              FILE - People take part in the Equality Parade, the largest gay pride parade in central and eastern Europe, in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday June 19, 2021. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)
            FILE - Anti-LGBT protesters burn an LGBT flag at the International Amnesty building during the opening ceremony of the Pride Week in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Despite the war in Ukraine, the country's largest LGBT rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday, June 25, 2022. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration of gay pride. It will instead join Warsaw's yearly Equality Parade, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov, File)

People take part in the 'Warsaw and Kyiv Pride' marching for freedom in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 25, 2022. Due to Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine the 10th anniversary of the equality march in Kyiv can't take place in the usual format in the Ukrainian capital. The event joined Warsaw's yearly equality parade, the largest gay pride event in central Europe, using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

(AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Ukraine’s largest LGBTQ rights event, KyivPride, went ahead Saturday, although not on its native streets or as a celebration.

Due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the event normally held in Kyiv took place in conjunction with Warsaw’s yearly Equality Parade, the largest gay pride event in Central Europe, with Ukrainian organizers using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on their country’s struggle.

About 300 people traveled from Ukraine to the Polish capital, now home to a quarter million Ukrainians who fled the war. Blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags fluttered among a sea of rainbow flags, and some participants chanted “Slava Ukraini” — glory to Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, we cannot march in Kyiv,” Maksym Eristavi, a Ukrainian journalist and a KyivPride board member, said, citing the dangers of bombings in Ukraine.

“However, it’s important for us to still march,” said Eristavi, who was draped in both the Ukrainian and European Union flags. “It’s still about pride, but pride in being Ukrainian and surviving through genocide.”

KyivPride’s trucks were given the honor of leading Saturday’s parade, one of many ways that Poland’s people have stepped up to help their embattled Ukrainian neighbors.

“We want to stand together against war, to walk for Ukraine’s freedom, for liberation, for equality, tolerance and acceptance,” Julia Maciocha, chairperson of Warsaw’s Equality Parade, said.

KyivPride director Lenny Emson said this year’s event was aimed at calling for political support for Ukraine and basic human rights.

“It is not a celebration,” Emson said. “We will wait for victory to celebrate.”

The Ukrainian civilians and soldiers killed by Russian forces during the four-month-old war include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Ukraine has seen a push for the country to recognize same-sex partnerships, not least because couples want to know they would have the right to bury each other, if one of them is killed.

Emson said it would be a tragedy for Ukraine as a whole if the country is defeated by Russia, but LGBTQ people would be at risk of getting “erased completely” – meaning killed, forced to flee or to hide their identities.

His organization runs a shelter for LGBTQ people who have fled Ukrainian territory occupied by the Russian forces. One LGBTQ rights activist in occupied Kherson has disappeared.

In a manifesto, KyivPride calls on people to realize that the geographical border between democratic Ukraine on one side and autocratic Russia and Belarus on the other “is not just a separation line between the states, but also a boundary between the territory of freedom and a zone of oppression.”

Russia passed a law in 2013 that bans the depiction of homosexuality to minors, something human rights groups view as a way to demonize LGBTQ people and discriminate against them. Dubbed the “Gay Propaganda” law, it came amid a larger crackdown on civil liberties in Russia and inspired the passage of a similar law in Hungary last year.

Klementyna Suchanow, the author of a book about global efforts to roll back the rights of women and LGBTQ people, argues that if Ukrainians lose the war, it would mark a defeat for a range of progressive causes, including feminism, LGBTQ rights and the efforts to fight climate change.

“This is why the war in Ukraine is about everything,” said Suchanow, a prominent Polish feminist activist and the author of “This is War: Women, Fundamentalists and the new Middle Ages.”

Poland’s conservative government has been a strong ally of Ukraine, sending humanitarian aid and weapons and allowing its territory to be used to for other countries to transfer aid of their own.

But its stance on LGBTQ rights has also made Poland an unlikely host for a gay rights event.

In recent years the government has depicted the LGBTQ rights movement as an attack on the nation’s Catholic traditions and as a force that threatens to corrupt the youth, echoing the rhetoric behind the Russian and Hungarian laws.

But Polish society as a whole has grown more accepting of LGBTQ people.

Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, from a liberal opposition party, joined Saturday’s parade march as he does each year, joined by the European Union’s commissioner for equality, Hanna Dalli.

Emson said the KyivPride organizers had considered holding their event in other European capitals but decided that Warsaw’s young and energetic rights movement was a better fit.

LGBTQ people in Ukraine still face considerable discrimination, but they have made strides in recent years as the country has sought to tie its fate to the West. The evolution of LGBT rights is underlined by KyivPride’s own evolution since it was founded 10 years ago.

In 2012, participants were so heavily outnumbered by angry counter-protesters that they didn’t dare march. Parade-goers have been beaten, and a large police presence is needed to protect them. Yet the event has continued to grow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose courageous wartime leadership has gained worldwide attention, won the respect of LGBTQ people in Ukraine when a man wearing a cross and spouting homophobic rhetoric heckled him at a news conference in 2019.

Zelenskyy shot back with anger: “Leave those people alone, for God’s sake.”

Since then, however, his party has also taken steps that LGBTQ rights activists view as a threat to their struggle.

Follow AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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With war, Kyiv pride parade becomes a peace march in Warsaw