The owners of the second-tallest building in Ukraine are taking a stand against a rising tide of homophobia in the region. The colors of the Pride flag will be projected onto the exterior of the 35-story Gulliver Mall in capital city of Kyiv each evening from October 5 through 11. Also projected onto the building will be the words “It’s good to be together!” to signify the importance of a united front against intolerance and bigotry in the region. The projection is scheduled to coincide with Ukraine’s celebration of Pride Month as well as International Coming Out Day on October 11.
“Coming Out Day is about visibility and the power of the voice,” Ruslana Panukhnyk, director of the KyivPride NGO, is quoted in Pink News.
The celebration of Pride Month in the Kyiv had been postponed from September 26 to October 11 due to the global pandemic. Attendance at last year’s Pride was the largest in the country’s history with 8,000 marchers.
While these numbers are encouraging, LGBTQ+ people still encounter significant societal prejudice and discrimination in Ukraine, which does not legally recognize marriage equality. A 2018 poll from Democratic Initiatives showed that 47 percent of Ukrainians believe LGBTQ+ rights should be limited; only 37.5 percent are against restrictions.
These sentiments are similar to much of the rest of the former Soviet Union satellite countries in eastern Europe. The area has seen a tightening grip of state-sponsored homophobia in recent months. Poland has been particularly discriminatory, with some leaders labeling the LGBTQ+ community as a foreign ideology and nearly two-thirds of the country’s towns declaring themselves to be LGBTQ-free in defiance of international law.
Kyiv Pride sees the projection of the rainbow colors onto the city’s second-largest tower as step forward, but equally recognizes the significance of the projected message.
“On this day that is important for the entire LGBT+ community, we want to emphasize once again that we are stronger together and together under all circumstances, including pandemic conditions and quarantine restrictions,” Panukhnyk said. “We walk side by side towards a better future for all.”
For the purposes of this story, Out is using the Ukrainian-based spelling of Kyiv rather than the Russian-based Kiev.