Sphere NGO have been championing LGBTI and women’s rights since 2006, and are among the oldest organisations of their kind in the country. Founded by activists Anna Sharyhina and Vira Chernygina, they provide a safe space for women and LGBTI people in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
Although Ukraine is considered one of the most progressive post-Soviet countries on LGBTI rights, it’s still failing to address the growing rate of hate crimes.
As groups targeting LGBTI people have proliferated across the country, Sphere have suffered numerous discriminatory attacks. These groups have set upon Sphere’s supporters and premises, urinating on their walls, daubing faeces on the doorknobs, breaking windows and chanting homophobic slogans at them. There have been dozens of attacks like these. Anna and Vira report them to the police, but no one is held accountable.
In 2019, Sphere organised Kharkiv’s first Pride ever. Despite threats and intimidation, Sphere created a hugely successful event attended by up to 3,000 people. But the police failed to protect marchers from violence, instead joining in by hurling homophobic abuse. Anna and Vira say that police inaction in the face of constant attacks has left Sphere and their supporters in a permanent state of fear.
“I want our attackers to be held accountable in accordance with the law,” says Anna.
Tell Ukraine to bring Sphere’s attackers to justice.
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