KIEV - Unidentified assailants have attacked a gay activist in central Ukraine ahead of a gay pride parade he was helping prepare, LGBT rights activists said on Sunday.
Borys Zolotchenko was severely beaten by a group of around 10 men in the centre of the industrial city Kryvyi Rig late Saturday, Gay Alliance Ukraine said.
The head of the organising committee for the parade was attacked when he was returning home with his friends, the group said. As a result of the attack, Zolotchenko was hospitalised, with Gay Alliance Ukraine releasing a picture of him with scratches on his face.
There was no immediate comment from police but the group said policemen had refused to arrive at the scene.
"I'm becoming more and more convinced that the March of Equality needs to be organised," Zolotchenko said in comments released by Gay Alliance Ukraine after the attack.
"We must show the authorities and society that safety and equality must be accessible to all Ukrainian citizens."
Activists want Kryvyi Rig, which is located some 350 kilometres (215 miles) southeast of the capital Kiev, to host the gay pride parade in mid-July. Ukraine, which ousted a pro-Kremlin regime in a pro-Western uprising in 2014, hopes to become a member of the European Union as it seeks to overcome widespread poverty and corruption.
But homophobia is still commonplace in post-Soviet Ukraine, even though Kiev authorities have allowed gay pride marches to take place, in contrast to neighbouring Russia.
A populist Ukrainian lawmaker, Igor Mosiychuk, called the parade's organisers "perverts" and expressed hope on Facebook that "stern Kryvyi Rig miners" would beat them up.
Police detained more than 50 far-right activists who tried to disrupt a gay pride march in Kiev in mid-June when around 5,000 people took part in the event amid heightened security.
Days before the Kiev march, global rights groups urged Ukraine to investigate attacks and harassment against gays and other minorities, slamming "an atmosphere of total impunity" in the Western-backed nation.