entertainment

Visiting Ukraine for Eurovision? Here's what LGBT+ travellers need to know

2017-05-04
Ukraine has a mixed record on LGBT+ rights, so should those who are visiting the country for the Eurovision Song Contest be worried? When the contest does arrive in the Ukrainian capital, it will play out against a backdrop of Russia’s military intervention in the east, in a country infamous for its endemic intolerance towards LGBT+ people (a fact not lost on many queer Eurovision loyalists). Far-right populism is sweeping the continent unabated and the very notion of a unified, peaceful Europe is under threat. So will this year's Eurovision be safe for LGBT+ attendees? Attitude spoke to the UK's Ambassador to Ukraine, Judith Gough, and asked her about the safety of LGBT+ people who may be travelling to Kiev for Eurovision.

What advice would you give to LGBT+ travellers visiting Ukraine?

Travellers should be aware that although there has been more discussion of LGBT+ issues recently in Ukraine, people may not have the same level of exposure to the LGBT+ community as in the UK.  Attitudes are mixed, and the Embassy supports several human rights projects working with the Ukrainian Government, MPs and public authorities to uphold and implement LGBT+ rights as part of Ukraine’s human rights strategy. As is commonplace elsewhere, public displays of affection may attract negative attention.  As with all British visitors, I’d advise checking out our FCO Travel Advice before you come, and keeping an eye on it throughout your visit.  This includes our wider advice like staying away from demonstrations and avoiding all travel to specific regions (Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea).

To what extent can LGBT+ travellers trust the Kiev police force, in the event that they need them?

The introduction of the new patrol police in Kiev and other cities since 2015 has resulted in a big increase in Ukrainians’ overall trust in the police.  Training provided by the UK and other partners has helped with that. Kiev held its most successful Pride March in March 2016, which I attended.  There were some small protests, but it was well policed and these protests were dealt with quickly and effectively. Should you be unfortunate enough to be the victim of a crime, you should report it to the Police. A list of local translators is available on our website if needed. Enjoy your time in Ukraine, just as you would when visiting anywhere else.  It has fantastic potential for tourists – there is much to see and do. And I know that the Kiev authorities want to make a great success of hosting Eurovision. Take a look at our guide to everything Eurovision 2017, with information on where to watch and links to all the performances. More stories: Russia won’t perform at Eurovision UK voters want to leave the Eurovision Song Contest for good