Chişinău witnessed an impressive LGBTQ+ community Pride parade march on Sunday, June 18, which stood out as the largest in terms of participant turnout. Notably, the event required minimal police presence, unlike previous years when the marchers were surrounded by a dense ring of specialized police units. The reduced security measures proved sufficient. Although opponents of the LGBTQ+ march attempted to gather and protest, their numbers were sparse, and they were unable to disrupt the Pride parade. The majority religion in Moldova is Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
NewsMaker covered the event, with photos, and Global Voices translated and republished the report and photos with their permission.
Starting at noon near the Republican Stadium, at the intersection of Bucuresti and Izmailskaya streets, participants of the LGBTQ+ march organized by Genderdoc-M, a center for protecting LGBTQ+ community rights, began to assemble. The annual tradition of the Chişinău LGBTQ+ March, which began in 2012 (excluding the pandemic period), has witnessed a consistent increase in the number of marchers. In contrast, the number of counter-protesters has been declining. This year, a mere five protesters arrived at the LGBTQ+ march location, holding crosses and icons in their hands.
The march this year focused on advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Moldova to have their marriages legally recognized. The participants proceeded along Bucuresti Street and made their way to the park on Lazo Street. A considerable number of people, amounting to several hundred, actively joined the march. Notably, political figures such as Evgeny Sinkevich, a member of the ruling Action and Solidarity (PAS) party, Kent Logsdon, the US Ambassador to Moldova, representatives from the Swedish Embassy in Moldova, and Evgeny Alexandrovich Goloshchapov, a member of the Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring Equality, were among the participants showing their support.
Meanwhile, a counteraction organized by the Renaissance [Vozrozhdenie] party, which recently welcomed four deputies who departed from the Party of Socialists (PSRM), was planned for the Riscani sector of the capital. However, as the clock struck noon, the designated location for the countermarch, the square in front of a shopping center in Riscani, stood vacant.
Nevertheless, supporters of “traditional values” still gathered to express their dissent. Several dozen individuals assembled at the monument to Stefan cel Mare, including priests from the Orthodox Church and their parishioners, who conducted a divine service. Holding banners with messages such as “Stop the Propaganda of Homosexuality” and “God Created Man and Woman,” they stood together under the scorching sun. Among the attendees were some children. The protesters refrained from engaging with the press, and when a NewsMaker correspondent inquired about the purpose of the event, several women dressed in floor-length attire and headscarves requested to see a pectoral cross as a precondition for communication. “Otherwise, we will not engage,” they firmly stated.
As the incident unfolded, the police attentively observed the situation, their presence becoming more noticeable when individuals began to advance past the monument along Banulescu-Bodoni Street, brandishing posters that proclaimed “LGBTQ+ is not the norm.” Activist Vyacheslav Valko led this march. The police intervened, halting the protesters from proceeding towards Bucuresti Street, where the LGBTQ+ march was taking place concurrently. While the protesters attempted to articulate their stance to the law enforcement officers by emphasizing, “You have children, you must be against what is happening [in the LGBTQ+ march],” an elderly man approached them, advocating for equal rights for all. “Leave them [the LGBTQ+ community] alone, better tell me why you Orthodox support the war in Ukraine,” the man began to argue, until the police advised against continuing the discussion.
Subsequently, the police granted permission for Veaceslav Valko and approximately ten other participants of the countermarch to proceed along Banulescu-Bodoni Street towards the US Embassy in Moldova. According to Valko, this marked the conclusion of their procession, as the embassy prominently displayed the rainbow flag, making it “the central office of the LGBTQ+ community in Moldova.” Upon reaching the US Embassy, the protesters stood with their posters, effectively concluding their demonstration.
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