Two men performing a social experiment in Kiev to see how Ukrainians react when they see openly gay couples got their answer: Most people don't care, but a group of 10 to 15 young men kicked and pepper-sprayed them, and the incident was caught on camera.
Zoryan Kis and Tymur Levchuk based the experiment on a video made by two Russian men who held hands while walking through the streets of Moscow for the prankster YouTube channel ChebuRussia TV earlier this month.
The Russian video:
The Russian men, who said they were inspired to litmus-test reactions to gay couples in Russia after the United States Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage, received abuse from numerous passersby in Moscow.
In Kiev, the Ukrainian couple generally received more positive reactions from strangers. But the experiment in Kiev was marred by one violent incident.
In the video, shot for the online magazine Bird in Flight, the men are sitting close to each other on a bench, with one holding a bunch of flowers, when some men approached and reportedly told the pair that they had apparently mistaken Ukraine for America and demanded to know if they were "patriots," Kis told the Guardian.
One of the men pepper-sprayed Kis and Levchuk, and three of them started kicking them before a bystander intervened.
The Ukrainian video:
Kis said that mostly people were tolerant, and that violence and aggression came from a small minority of Ukrainians with far-right views. Ukraine does not have anti-gay laws like in Russia, where so-called "gay propaganda" has been outlawed. He added that the video was intended to create awareness and push Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to add constitutional protections for LGBT people in a new document currently being drafted.
"Ukraine has definitely made some progress, and the fact that there isn't state homophobia in Ukraine is probably the reason why ordinary people weren't aggressive towards us," Kis said. "But if Ukraine wants to move on and get closer to Europe, the government must act to protect us from people like those attackers."