KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ Leaders of Ukraine's gay community say homophobic violence and sentiment are on the rise in the country as the gay movement pushes for rights.

The community cancelled its first ever gay pride parade in the capital Kiev in May due to concerns that activists would be physically attacked by radical groups. After the cancellation, two gay leaders were still violently beaten.

Svyatoslav Sheremet, the head of Ukraine's Gay Forum _ one of the two leaders attacked _ said Wednesday that there has been a spike in violence against homosexuals in Ukraine in recent months.

During a charity concert in Kiev last month, singer Elton John pleaded with Ukrainians to end violence against its gay community.

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