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A Eurovision test (of sorts) – Ukraine

June 7, 2016

When Ukraine emerged as the winner of the 2016 Eurovision contest, and thus became the host (and de facto loser of Eurovision 2017 – for nobody wins twice in a row), Kyiv was one of the first cities to offer to act as host city (together with Lviv and Odessa as serious alternatives).

Eurovision is known for many things – unofficially political and predictable voting, expectantly awful “music”, (for the most part – exceptions such as ABBA’s Waterloo for example), huge TV audiences that seem addicted to the often excruciating spectacle, and thousands (more often than not in the tens of thousands) of dedicated attendees  who are, energetic, vibrant, colourful, socially liberal, and with a very heavy dash of “camp” – to a degree that the socially conservative, the orthodoxy, the intolerant and the under-educated all find either disturbing, unnatural, and/or un-Godly (etc).

A reader may well question why Kyiv has offered to host such a competition with such a well known socially liberal fan-base, when the Kyiv City Council no sooner than offering to act as host city, then tries to ban the annual Equality March (LGBT parade) that are scheduled for 12th June via the local courts.

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It is rather questionable as to whether offering to host the most “camp” annual European competition, whilst simultaneously attempting to ban a domestic “camp” march, is in anyway consistent with the minority issues generally recognised with both events – specifically the rights of the LGBT community.

What message does that attempt at banning the Equality March send to Eurovision organisers and attendees regarding the suitability of Kyiv as a host city when considering the “socially liberal” undercurrent of Eurovision?

It seems however, both the Ministry of Interior and the National Police are of the opinion that the Equality March will definitely go ahead – before the court has made any decision/ruling over the Kyiv City Council attempt to ban it.

To be so certain of the judicial outcome allowing to march to occur (and charitably allowing for an independent judicial outcome), presumably Kyiv City Council attempted to ban the Equality March on the grounds of being unable to guarantee (as far as guarantees go) the safety of the participants, the police, or bystanders/the general public, thus with the Ministry of Interior and National Police stating that 5000 police officers will robustly enforce the law during the march, those grounds are seemingly null and void.

Indeed, 5000 police officers dealing policing the Equity March may well mean more police than marchers at the event.

If so, then so be it, for there is a requirement for Ukraine to project two important signals to the Eurovision fans and Eurovision bureaucrats.  The first is that the LGBT community do have their rights protected by the State (at least during official events).  The second is that the Ukrainian State can deal with any aggression toward such minority groups (at least during official events).

For the Ministry of Interior, and National Police in particular, the Equality March may yet become something of a dress rehearsal  for Eurovision.

Indeed there is something of an argument to treat the Equality March as exactly that (as far as is practicable) – not only as far as the march itself is concerned, but also regarding the safety of those involved both prior to, and after it occurs – for when Eurovision “camps-up” whichever Ukrainian city plays host, it doesn’t “camp it up” for a few hours, nor even one night.  The host Ukrainian city will be “camp” and “socially liberal” for a week or more.  The Ukrainian State and the host city will have to pay far more attention, for far longer, with maximum tolerance and unerring policing city-wide toward perhaps tens of thousands of people that generally are otherwise left to fend for themselves.

As such a reader may benefit from keeping a watchful eye not only upon events at the Equity March itself, but also any incidents that occur on buses, the metro, in bars or restaurants etc., prior to, or post, 5000 police officers (probably) keeping a lid on the march itself (and those that would offer violence during it).  If the Ukrainian State fails city-wide in Kyiv on a single day – how well will it cope for a week or more?

A policing learning curve presents, and a thorough debriefing post 12th June will undoubtedly offer many lessons for Eurovision 2017 if the policing is tactically set as a full practice run city-wide.  It will not be enough to have the parade occur without serious incident, but to then have marchers attacked far from the event location when it’s over, or before it even begins.

 

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