Kyiv Pride 2015June 7, 2015
A short entry today relating to the Kyiv Pride 2015 march that took place yesterday.
That it took place obviously matters. For those that are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-gendered it clearly has a particular meaning – for those that are not, the meaning is just as significant, if not directly related to the cause.
What matters to all in Ukraine is that it took place and that “The State”, although imperfectly, allowed people their right of assembly and freedom of expression to hold a march within the confines of the law, and the police actually made efforts to protect them in exercising those rights. Indeed, officers were injured trying to insure those rights were executed.
In years past, the police would have stood idly by whilst serious injury and perhaps worse was handed out by those violently opposed to the exercising of such rights over this particular cause.
“The State”, and in particular the police, will hopefully learn lessons from events yesterday with regards to what went wrong – and what went right.
Democracy however does not distinguish between the rights of assembly and freedom of expression for LGBT, women rights, children rights, or those with ginger hair – whatever – just as long as they abide by the law whilst exercising those rights. Neither does a democracy accept the actions of those that act outside of the law when trying to suppress the rights of others.
Thus the Kyiv Pride march was a test of “The State” as much as it was the determination of the LGBT community. It was also a test of society. That despite the vitriol expressed in social media, so few turned up with intent to act outside the law and attack the march, is perhaps a sign that regardless of any personal like or dislike for the cause, the majority have found some respect for the rule of law.
The majority have some very real near term benefits to gather from the actions of “The State” yesterday in protecting (if not perfectly) those that took part. Visa-free with the European Union has within its requirements, the respect, tolerance and protection of “The State” for minorities as a benchmark. That Kyiv Pride 2015 took place, “The State” allowed it to take place, policed it, and actively attempted to protect those that took part, will be noted by the EU and the EC monitors who make progress reports/recommendations.
Just how many Ukrainians are aware that the possibility of their Visa-free with the EU could have been adversely effected had the march been prohibited or the police failed to attempt to protect those marching is hard to know. The Ukrainian political elite are not particularly good at conveying to the public what “technicalities” are still to be dealt with other than stating “all political hurdles have been overcome, only technicalities remain“.
Whatever the case, a minority group exercised its rights within the law. Those that tried to prevent by actions outside the law failed. Although not perfectly, “The State” tried to protect the minority in exercising their rights. Where “The State”, or perhaps more accurately the local Kyiv government has to face criticism, is the spineless attempts to dissuade the marchers because it is “not the right time“.
“Not the right time” is an excuse for political expediency and generally being politically spineless rather than insuring the rights of Ukrainians enshrined within the law are upheld. If the police have some public order lessons to learn, hopefully Kyiv City Hall (and others) will have learned a lesson too. The application of rule of law cannot be selectively applied, lest it be rule by law.
It would have been a big error of judgement not to allow Kyiv Pride to occur, despite the issues on the day.