Thousands of people protest in Ukraine for LGBT rights and safety

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Some 7,000 people gathered in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday for the annual equality march for the rights of the country’s LGBT community.

Equipped with colorful costumes and rainbow flags, crowds marched through the streets of central Kiev, some carrying banners with the inscription “Fight for right!” Participants announced eight demands on Ukrainian authorities, including legalizing civil partnerships for LGBT people and laws against LGBT hate crimes.

“We are tired of waiting for change and enduring systematic intimidation, pressure, disruption of peaceful events, attacks on activists and the LGBT community,” the protesters said in a statement. “We demand changes here and now, because we want to live freely in our own country.”

The march was monitored by police, who sought to prevent clashes with far-right groups that try to disrupt the event every year. Ukrainian human rights ombudsperson Lyudmyla Denisova urged radical groups to refrain from violence.

“We are different, but we are equal,” Denisova said. “The Ukrainian constitution has declared that all people are equal in their rights from birth, regardless of their characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Several hundred activists opposed to the march organized their own rally in a park in Kiev. No clashes were reported.

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