Two Ukrainian consulate buildings were lit up with projections of the Pride flag to highlight increasing LGBTQ+ hate crime in the country.
Against a backdrop of increasing hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine, Amnesty International UK took the action to urge authorities to do more to protect those being affected.
Sphere, which provides a safe space for women and LGBTQ+ people in Kharkiv, Ukraine, has been targeted by people who have urinated on walls, spread faeces on doorknobs, broken windows and chanted homophobic slurs.
Anna Sharyhina, co-founder of Sphere, said: “We are sure that hate crimes on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are not solely aimed at Sphere – they are aimed at terrorising the entire LGBT+ community.
“The impunity that follows speaks volumes of the government’s disregard of human rights. We demand the authorities to do their work and hold perpetrators of hate crimes accountable.”
Amnesty International UK has also launched a petition as part of its Write for Rights campaign calling for the protection of these groups, as well as a demand that the attackers be brought to justice.
The rainbow projections – which took place on Ukrainian government buildings in Bangkok and London on 29 November – raise awareness of Amnesty’s campaign and shine a spotlight on the dangerous levels of harassment, violence, and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people in the country.
“Last night, we lit up Ukrainian government buildings in rainbow colours to send a message to the authorities that enough is enough: we will not tolerate hate crimes against LGBTI people in our country,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International’s Ukraine Director.
Pokalchuk continued: “There are dangerous levels of violence and abuse against LGBTI people in Ukraine and much more needs to be done to protect them. The police are standing by and letting these crimes happen.
“Organisations like Sphere are so important for ensuring women and LGBTI people have a space where they can feel safe. We can’t sit still and watch as hate groups attempt to tear them apart. They need protection. The authorities must investigate the attacks and hold the perpetrators accountable.”
In recent years, Amnesty International has documented the proliferation of violent groups advocating hatred and discrimination across Ukraine, which it says are systematically targeting LGBTQ+ people and women’s rights activists, accusing them of being a threat to “traditional and family values”.
According to the organisation, out of dozens of cases it has documented since 2017, it found that perpetrators were held accountable in only one case – though even in this, the judge did not take into consideration the discriminatory motive of the attack.
Amnesty International says that the lack of justice emboldens these violent groups to plan and carry out new attacks, creating a vicious circle of impunity and causing women’s rights and LGBTQ+ activists to live in fear.
Sphere NGO provide a safe space for women and LGBTI people in Ukraine. They have suffered dozens of attacks by violent anti-LGBTI groups, but the police have failed to hold anyone accountable. #W4R2021
— Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) November 28, 2021