God Is Love, or a Few Words about the Equality March
The performance of Potomac Fever, the LGBT choir advocating for human rights (yes, that is correct!), at the opening ceremony of America Days in Lviv sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine gathered not only local human rights activists, but also local authorities and representatives of the Greek Catholic church, which has influence in the region. So much for protocol, so to say.
Iryna Slavinska: Mayor Sadovyi came to the Philharmonic for the performance of the American gay choir Potomac Fever. Ahem-ahem…
Ïàí Ñàäîâèé ïðèéøîâ ó ô³ëàðìîí³þ íà âèñòóï àìåðèêàíñüêîãî ãåé-õîðà Potomac Fever. Ãì ãì... pic.twitter.com/lGYAAmWzOH— Iryna Slavinska (@slavinska) 27 òðàâíÿ 2016 ð.
It doesn’t matter that the representative of the church left soon after the show started. People who were there said that it happened when he heard intermezzo with personal stories of choir singers in between the neutral and happy songs. It doesn’t matter that in their speeches mayor Andriy Sadovyi and Lviv Oblast governor Oleg Synyutka failed to mention the human rights challenges that Potomac Fever addresses. Nothing could dull the power of the music.
Even those in the audience who initially set out to criticize couldn’t help but sing along to the choir’s version of the famous Ukrainian song Chervona Ruta. And I am sure that many people in the audience could not hold back their tears when they heard stories of the performers about their coming-outs or weddings.
Humanity and empathy goes beyond country borders and ideologies.
|Photos by U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine|
Photo by U.S. Embassy in Kyiv Ukraine
After the Potomac Fever performance in Lviv, there was one question that was widely asked on social networks. This question inevitably gets asked in the wake of Equality Festivals, Equality Marches and other human rights advocacy events in Ukraine: "Why do they need to talk about it?"
The recent statement by OUN volunteer battalion which was reposted by Pravyi Sektor spokesperson Artem Skoropadsky gives a prominent example why. The statement said that God turns away from homosexuals, and those who allow them to parade around are sinners just the same. It concludes with the appeal to join the battalion on the day of the March in their prevention of the "substitution of concepts, when human baseness and perversion are called the fight for freedom in Ukraine" and not letting "the Sodom plague spread around the streets of Kyiv and the whole of Ukraine".
It is interesting that those who opposed the Equality March try to deceive their readers by referring to a ‘gay parade’. However, the Equality March is not. This gathering’s agenda includes the rights of all minorities in Ukraine, all deprived population groups.
It is a very positive development that this year Kyiv City State Administration took a more decisive stance on ensuring the safety of the participants of the March. The experiences of the 2015 March in Kyiv and spring 2016 Festival in Lviv should not happen again.
All citizens without exceptions should be able to feel safe in Ukrainian cities. The visibility of minorities is an important component contributing to such safety. As well as treating hate-based crimes for what they are, not as simple ‘bullying’ when assigning them classification according to the law. This is another advocacy level — the legislative level, as corresponding amendments to the Criminal Code are due. It gives hope that some MPs also promise to join the March.
Those who oppose human rights meetings often appeal to religion. It surprises me. Because God is love. Because in the New Testament Jesus says "Do not be afraid." This is why I believe in the power of the powerless. Let all voices and the ‘song of songs’ about human rights be heard.
Translated by Tetiana Vodianytska
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