Throwing a Pride event in Ukraine can be challenging at the best of times. The East European country is not known for embracing LGBTQ rights, and the annual Pride march in the capital city, Kyiv, is often met with far-right counter protests.
This year, because of COVID-19, the annual Pride parade was canceled. Instead, in addition to running an online festival, the Pride organizers decided to mark Pride in an alternative way. They used a large drone to fly a 6-meter by 4-meter rainbow flag above the city.
The flag, which was carried on a weighted line, was then flown to one of the city’s most famous landmarks: the gigantic ‘Motherland’ sculpture that looks down upon the city. At 102 meters in height, the statue is 10 meters taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty.
The flag was positioned in such a way as to look like the sculpture was holding it up above the city. Accompanying the footage was a hashtag saying, #momwillunderstandandsupport (in reference to the ‘motherland’ statue).
The filmed footage has been met with a storm of outraged comments from some Ukrainians online. Some commentators on Facebook labeled the stunt “vandalism”, “sinful and shameful”, and “degradation.” Although it’s not illegal to be gay in Ukraine, same-sex couples are not recognized in the eyes of the law and LGBTQ people lack many protective rights.
Some were furious the stunt involved a statue representing the country’s mother-protector figure. Others were disgusted that the footage was posted on Father’s Day. Several recommended for those responsible to be investigated and arrested by authorities.
The company that helped to arrange the drone was Dronarium Ukraine. It says that its action contravened no laws. “Drone flights were carried out under the current legislation and according to the rules of the State Service.”
In a statement on Facebook, the company also said its team supported tolerance and acceptance: “We are against the manifestation of aggression against the LGBT community, which we consider to be from the Middle Ages.”
A further video of the flag being flown above the city was posted this morning.
With pride parades canceled, many cities have been acknowledging Pride in other ways this year, from illuminating buildings to large, LGBTQ-themed public artworks.