About 10 men in masks tried to attack the participants of a discussion on hate crimes but were fought off.
In Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 20, 2010, during the Transgender Day of Remembrance of those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred, unknown persons attacked “A Response to Violence against Transgender People,” a peaceful gathering organized by the NGO Insight and the Visual Culture Research Center. The organizers had planned a film screening, discussion, and flash-mob with paper lanterns.
About ten unknown men broke into the Visual Culture Center as the film Boys Don’t Cry was being screened. The attackers had apparently planned to break into the screening room, which contained over thirty spectators, and attack them with tear gas. However, due to the prompt reaction of organizers and activists, the attackers were stopped at the entrance and forced out of the room. One of the organizers, Timur Lysenko (coordinator of Insight’s transgender program), who first confronted the bandits and blocked their access to the room, was beaten up. He and his colleague Anastasia Medco (from the NGO Fulcrum), who also resisted the bandits, were heavily poisoned by tear gas. The attackers fled the scene.
Timur was diagnosed with internal injuries and facial chemical burns. All spectators present in the room during the attack suffered from the effects of the tear gas.
Police who came to the scene have preliminarily called the attack an act of “hooliganism.” However, the tactics used by the attackers clearly indicate preplanning and prior intent: the attackers were wearing masks; they had weapons; their actions were consistent and deliberate; and they fled the scene at once. The event dedicated to the Transgender Day of Remembrance had been announced in advance, thus allowing the attackers to preplan and organize the attack. The attack was motivated by anti-transgender hatred and homophobia. Such actions should be qualified under part 3 of Article 161 of the Ukraine Criminal Code: “Deliberate acts aimed at inciting […] hatred, […], as well as direct or indirect restriction of rights […] on the basis of race, skin color, political, religious and other beliefs, gender, ethnicity or social origin, property status, place of residence, language or any other characteristic.”
At the moment, several complaints have been submitted to the police by event participants who suffered during the attack. Organizers demand that the authorities recognize that the attack was a preplanned, organized hate crime.
Transgendered people are often subjected to violence fuelled by hatred. According to a TGEU research project on transphobia, more than 420 murders of transgender persons have been reported since 2008 worldwide. In Ukraine, due to the lack of a monitoring system and the reluctance of law enforcement agencies to classify such cases as hate crimes, the problem of xenophobia and hate-based violence remains invisible.
The number of ultra right-wing attacks on peaceful gatherings for LGBT rights and against discrimination has increased over the past two years. In May 2010, two men tried to bring a smoke bomb into the cinema during a film screening that was part of the LGBT festival Queer Week. In September 2009, both presentations of the queer anthology “120 Pages of Sodom,” held in Lviv and Kyiv, were attacked by ultra right-wing groups followed by physical violence against participants. On the night of September 30, 2009, the Kyiv art center I Gallery was burned down following a discussion of the attacks on the queer anthology presentations and the official ban of the film Bruno. Homophobic inscriptions were left on the walls of the burnt gallery.
ContactsTaisia Gerasymova Board Member, Insight firstname.lastname@example.org +380661050455 •
Timur Lysenko Coordinator, Transgender Program, Insight email@example.com +380504107559 •
Editor’s Note. The text of the press release has been lightly edited to make it more readable.