The Equality Festival events planned for this weekend in Lviv have been disrupted and the activists effectively – and with violence – driven out of the city. The police did not detain any of the young far-right thugs in masks who first harassed activists, then surrounded the hotel and attacked a coach with Equality Festival activists.
The LGBT initiative Equality Festival had planned an Equality ‘Quest’ on March 19, as part of various anti-discrimination, pro-tolerance events over the weekend. The quest was to go around places linked with ideals of equality and freedom within the city.
During the early hours of Saturday morning, the Lviv District Administrative Court passed a ruling banning all events in the area where the Equality Festival quest had been planned.
The pretext was depressingly familiar. The Sokol nationalist organization had informed that it would be holding an event – almost certainly a counter-demonstration – and the Mayor’s Office asked for all events on the square outside the Opera Theatre to be banned. The European Court of Human Rights has on a number of occasions found that the likelihood of counter-events does not justify restricting citizens right to peaceful assembly. The regional police also asked for the ban, although it is they who are obliged to protect all citizens exercising their right to gather.