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More worrying homophobic links to art centre arson

01.10.09 | Halya Coynash

As reported, the Pavlo Hudimov Art Centre in Kyiv was the target of an arson attack during the early hours of Wednesday morning (cf. www.khpg.org.ua).  On photographs shown by Mr Hudimov, a well-known rock musician, there is a clearly visible sign daubed on the wall: “No to sodomy! OUN” [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists].

On Friday 25 September, a public discussion took place at the Art Centre, entitled: “Propaganda of homosexuality or propaganda of tolerance?”  The discussion centred on the ban by the Ministry of Culture of a public showing of the comedy by Sacha Baron Cohen “Bruno” (www.khpg.org.ua ) and the publication of an anthology of gay and lesbian literature “120 pages of Sodom”, from the Kyiv “Krytyka” publishing house.

Half an hour after the discussion ended, the windows to the Art Centre (“Ya-halereia”) were smashed.

While there is no direct proof of who was responsible for the attacks either on 25 September, or the arson attack last night, there are at least two extreme rightwing organizations which positively boast of homophobic behaviour.

Those who disrupted a presentation of the same book at the “Ye” bookshop in Kyiv on 24 September were detained after creating havoc in the premises and smashing furniture.

On 22 July 2009 in Kyiv an unofficial premier viewing of “Bruno” was prevented when a smoke bomb was hurled into the studio.

More sinisterly, during the Lviv Book Forum a press conference to present the book “120 Pages of Sodom” given by the Director of “Krytyka” Andriy Mokrousov, the compilers of the anthology Iryna Shuvalova and Albina Pozdnyakova, as well as one of the authors, the Scottish writer Christopher White.  Two groups of extremists tried to obstruct the press conference, one throwing tomatoes, and the second from the extreme rightwing organization “Tryzub im. S. Bandery” [“Banderivets”] – mayonnaise and water. The “Tryzub” louts smashed a microphone, glasses, ripped up press releases and copies of the books before trying to flee. They were prevented by members of Zaxid.net, the information agency which was hosting the event, who called the police.

„Tryzub” claim to be nationalists, as in fact do all the extreme rightwing groups that like to take part in any such demonstrations of primitivism.  It effectively boasts of its prowess in this area on its website which speaks of the “nationalists” against “Sodom and Gomorrah” at the Lviv Book Forum and on 24 September when a presentation of the book was disrupted at the “Ye” bookshop in Kyiv.

It is worth noting that the website of the rightwing VO “Svoboda” [“Liberty Party”] also has a report of the thuggery on 24 September www.svoboda.org.ua entitled: “Police detain nationalists who obstructed propaganda of sexual deviance”. 

It ends not with a condemnation of the thuggish behaviour, but with the words: “Svoboda” considers propaganda of sexual deviance and any pushing of homosexuality, including such actions in public places to be unacceptable. The fact that this took place in a Ukrainian bookshop is provocation against Ukrainians”.

The effective endorsement of criminal behaviour and extreme intolerance from a political party which is fully legal in Ukraine is clearly of the greatest concern, as indeed is the increasing intolerance towards people with different sexual orientation, or who wish to view works of art not to other’s liking. 

The active efforts of the National Expert Commission for the Protection of Public Morality with its highly selective application of thoroughly unacceptable and unforeseeable provisions in the Law on the Protection of Public Morality are likely to be contributing to a worrying trend to extreme intolerance and interference in other people’s lives (cf. www.khpg.org.ua about the banning of a NOVEL by the renowned Ukrainian writer Oles Ulyanenko and “Unforeseeable immorality” www.khpg.org.ua ).

see also:
Those who tried to break up presentation of gay literature anthology named
Caution: Cultural activities in Ukraine are dangerous!