Despite pouring rain, an ongoing war, and the need for heavy police protection, hundreds gathered under the protection of police in Kyiv for the Ukrainian capital’s first Pride march since the Russian invasion.

Soon after the brief rally, which took place behind a police cordon, nationalist militants began a counter-demonstration through the streets of Kyiv, shouting homophobic slurs.

These opposing rallies occurred more than two years into a war, often depicted as a battle to embrace European liberal values, though parts of Ukraine remain deeply conservative.


“Even through the attacks, we need to come and show up. We are such a country, such a nation. We don’t give up. If our rights are taken, we fight for them,” said one of the participants.

The situation in Ukraine contrasts with Russia, where the Kremlin has intensified its repression of the LGBTQ+ community since launching its full-scale invasion in 2022.

“For many of my comrades, I was the first LGBT person they had ever seen,” said 28-year-old Petro Zherukha, an openly gay soldier. “It was as if they had come into contact with an alien.”

“There were a lot of questions, but I think that after we talked a lot… everything became very cool,” he added.

For security reasons, the timing and location of the Pride march were not publicly announced until the morning of the event.

It was reported that around 500 people registered for the predominantly static gathering.