Thousands march in Ukraine capital's Gay Pride

Kiev (AFP) –


More than 8,000 people turned out on Sunday for Kiev's annual Gay Pride parade amid tight security as far-right activists sought to disrupt the celebration, organisers said.

The marchers, waving rainbow and Ukrainian flags and dressed in bright colours, marched through the centre of the capital as thousands of police and National Guard troops stood by to ensure order.

Some 1,000 far-right and Orthodox activists, who were kept away from the march, held up anti-gay banners and shouted "Shame!" as the procession began.

Ukraine, which ousted a pro-Kremlin regime in a pro-Western uprising in 2014, hopes to become a member of the European Union as it seeks to overcome widespread poverty and corruption.

But homophobia is still commonplace, even though Kiev authorities have allowed gay pride marches to be held, unlike in neighbouring Russia.

The procession is the first "March of Equality" to take place after Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian without previous political experience, took over as president in May.

Turnout at the event was higher than last year, when around 5,000 people took part.

Attacks and harassment against gays and other minorities are fairly common in Ukraine, and global rights groups have previously slammed "an atmosphere of total impunity" for the culprits in the Western-backed nation.