15a Interview With Activist Igor Ivanov 10/11
January 2, 2011 – Gay.by
A photo essay of Belarusian LGBT activity in 2010 through the eyes of Gay.by
View the photos here.
Законодательство – News.Gay.by
"President Alexander Lukashenko takes oath for the fourth time; What it means for LGBT people in Belarus"
Александр Лукашенко в четвертый раз присягнул белорусскому народу
Насколько созданы условия для соблюдения равенства и недискриминации в стране в отношении геев, лесбиянок, бисексуалов и трансгендерных людей во время президентства Александра Лукашенко?
Уголовная ответственность за однополый секс в Беларуси была отменена в 1994 году. До этого за однополые отношения можно было получить срок тюремного заключения до пяти лет.
Каких-либо иных подвижек в принятии законодательных актов по защите от насилия и дискриминации гомосексулов в стране не было принято.
Вопрос об однополых союзах или браках вообще не рассматривался белорусскими властями. Поэтому вопросы имущественного права, права наследства и иные вопросы, которые уже решены в гетеросексуальных парах, не урегулированы.
В законодательстве не оговорены вопросы усыновления детей гомосексуалами или гомосексуальными парами. Органы по усыновлению предпочитают не давать разрешения человеку с гомосексуальной ориентацией на усыновление ребенка.
Республика Беларусь является одной из немногочисленных стран, где по медицинским показаниям, проводятся бесплатные операции по смене пола. Людям изменивших пол, также, по их желанию, может быть изменен личный идентификационный номер, который присваивается каждому человеку при рождении. В данном номере зашифрован и пол человека, который при смене пола, можно заменить.
На протяжении многих лет мирные акции, протестов и шествий гомосексуалов не разрешались местными властями, не смотря на многочисленные попытки. Последний раз шествие гей-парада в Минске состоялось в сентябре 2001 года. Попытка проведения гей-шествие прайда в 2010 года была разогнана милицией, а некоторые ее участники задержаны и осуждены. Примечательно, что все остальные акции, которые проходили в рамках гей-прайда, особых препятствий не почувствовали. На провокации гомофобно настроенных людей, сотрудники милиции вступали на защиту участников мероприятий.
В данный момент в стране нет ни одной официально зарегистрированной организации целью которой являлось бы защита прав и свобод гомосексуалов, объединение людей с гомосексуальной ориентацией.
Геев и лесбиянок часто используют для "очернения" белорусской оппозиции. Используя тот факт, что белорусское общество, в большинстве своем, негативно относится к проявлениям однополой любви, используют данный факт в своих целях. Одним из самых громких случаев подобных «спецопераций» состоялся во время проведения конгресса демократических сил. В пикете, приняли участие псевдо-гомосексуалы, герои советских мультфильмов, которые исполнили песенку "Голубой вагон" и другие. Национальное телевидение вовсю использовало эти сюжеты в пропагандистских целях Однако, активисты ЛГБТ-движения сражу же заявили о непричастности к данному событию.
Государственные СМИ по-прежнему продолжают политику предоставления информации о гомосексуалах с негативной стороны.
Цитаты Александра Лукашенко
"Мы должны показать, как они из наших девчат делают проституток, как кормят наших граждан наркотиками, как голубизну распространяют в Беларуси. Хватит нам ходить, спрятав голову под мышку!"
Во время выборов 2006 года, когда оппозиция проводила, так называемую, "Васильковую революцию", Александр Лукашенко заявил: …"Речь не идет о какой-то "голубой революции", майдане. Они даже не могут что-то толковое придумать, чтобы не попасть под критику. Неужели кроме этой "голубизны" у них ничего больше нет? И поэтому, наверное, эти сексуальные меньшинства их и поддерживают".
Александр Лукашенко, выступая на Всебелорусском народном собрании, заявил:
"И когда польский министр иностранных дел говорит мне о национальном меньшинстве, то я говорю ему: стой, стой. Запомни, у нас нет никаких меньшинств: ни сексуальных, ни национальных. Это наши люди, это наши поляки, это мои поляки", – подчеркнул президент Беларуси.
February 12, 2011 – UK Gay News
Gays and Lesbians Given Permission to Stage First-Ever Sanctioned Rally in Belarus
Minsk (GayRussia) – City authorities in Minsk have given gay activists clearance to stage a rally against homophobia in the Belarusian capital on Monday. Previously Belarus authorities have always banned public events by LGBT community, which sees this permission as a “first” in the country. “We have kept trying to get permission – and finally our perseverance has been rewarded” said Sergey Praded, one of the organisers. The event was purposely organised for Monday – St. Valentine’s Day.
Ten different applications for a permit were made, all in different locations in the city. Four of the applications were successful. “I already met with the police and the Ministry of Health and both confirmed that they will provide assistance during our event,” Mr. Praded, co-chair of IDAHO Belarus, said yesterday. “We have now four options to conduct this action and we will quickly decide which place is more appropriate,” he added.
The event is organized by IDAHO Belarus, the local branch of the International Day Against Homophobia. “For several months, we’ve been trying to get permission to stage a public action, but we always received negative answers,” Mr. Praded pointed out. “This might be seen from abroad as a small step, but for us it’s a huge success,” he added.
Sergey Yenin was among the 12 participants who were arrested during Slavic Pride in Minsk last May. He was detained in custody for 48 hours and later released by a Court after receiving a fine for taking part in an unsanctioned event. This significant change of policy of Belarusian authorities comes three months after Russia, Belarus’ main partner and neighbour, allowed first public action of gays and lesbians in St Petersburg last November.
“Last November, we managed to get first public action of LGBT community ever allowed in St Petersburg in Russia and now, this is the turn of Minsk in Belarus,” said Nikolai “After years of campaigning on the issue of freedom of assembly we see that our efforts and pressure pay off. It also comes after we won against Russia on Moscow Pride ban at the European Court of Human Rights. Things are slowly improving. It proves once again that we follow the right strategy and that we should not wait and stay silent. We should force and take our rights,” he added.
14 February, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
Belarus: Gays and lesbians held their first ever authorized rally against homophobia in Minsk
On Monday February 14 activists of the Belarusian LGBT group "IDAHO Belarus” held the first ever public event authorized by the City authorities in Minsk, Belarus. The action which took place in the park near the Ministry of Justice aimed to condemn homophobia and to call for equal rights for gays and lesbians. As it was announced last Friday, the rally obtained clearance from the Minsk City Executive Committee as well as the police.
Participants of the rally, timed with St. Valentine’s Day, were holding banners reading: "Love who you want", "Rights to gays and lesbians", "Homophobia = fascism". And participants were shouting "Equal rights without compromise", "Belarus without homophobes”. No incidents were reported during the rally which was protected by several police officers and covered by two dozens of journalists.
Full text of article available at link below –
View original article here
March 11, 2011 – UK Gay News
Journey With a Movie Camera Through ‘Gay’ Eastern Europe
by Logan Mucha
Logan Mucha is a young Australian documentary film-maker who spent several months last year in Eastern Europe filming his first feature-length documentary, East Bloc Love. He writes about his experiences, mainly in Belarus. East Bloc Love is now finished and us due for release after screenings at LGBT film festivals. I’m gay, have a boyfriend and live in a country where a lot of LGBT people my age consider defending their rights secondary to going out and picking up. It’s these sentiments that drove me to begin developing East Bloc Love, which has turned into something bigger than I ever imagined.
This is not to say that I never had ambitions for the film, however the journey in making East Bloc Love a reality has been as much an exploration of gay rights in other countries, as it has a personal exploration of my sexuality and its meaning to me. After a fascinating visit to some parts of Eastern Europe several years ago, I felt compelled to return and explore the situation for the LGBT community across the former Soviet Bloc. I returned with a camera, a couple of microphones, and a very flexible concept for a film. I began by living with a gay couple for three weeks in Latvia, where I quickly discovered the less than accommodating forces developing in response to an increasingly visible LGBT presence.
Let’s call these ‘forces’ more like remaining sentiments from the Soviet occupation, such as a strong religious presence, and a fear of losing national identify from the omnipresent ‘West’. It pushed me to explore deeper in my interviews and research however, it wasn’t until I went to Belarus that I realised this was the beginning of something much bigger. I flew into Belarus’ capital Minsk with my boyfriend, after some cryptic e-mailing with the unregistered and ‘illegal’ LGBT organisation GayBelarus. After unpacking in a glorious Soviet-era apartment block, I jumped into a taxi and handed the driver an address written in Cyrillic.
After being welcomed into the cramped apartment-cum-head office of their organisation, I was made to drink copious amounts of the mandatory-welcoming vodka in traditional Belarusian style. The small group of activists surprised me by their young age and passion for fighting for their rights. Most of them were younger than me. I quickly became attached to Sergey Yenin, a twenty-year old Belarusian activist whose fluency in English quickly made him our translator to all that went on. We were opened to the world of GayBelarus as they prepared for Slavic Pride with the assistance of GayRussia. It was to be the first pride event in Belarus in ten years and had already been banned by the authorities. We filmed everything, and documented stories from the activists, a drag queen, a pre-op transsexual and a rock musician.
The stories from Belarus, and the individuals from the other countries we visited, seemed to revolve around a central idea: visibility. For better or worse, they all grappled with the concept of visibility for the LGBT community, whether it was a Romanian princess who advocated gay rights, a Polish curator who showcased gay art in the National Museum, or the leader of a powerful anti-gay lobby group. It turned into such a prominent theme that we focused our efforts on this concept and pushed the documentary to essentially explore the efforts and consequences of the increasingly visible gay community in Eastern Europe. Questions began to emerge. Was society slowly accepting the charge towards visibility? What is the impact of LGBT activism in these countries? Do LGBT people in these countries even want to explore their rights?
Attitudes were in flux from person to person, from country to country, and showed how the East Bloc is still struggling to find its identity since independence. Using an essentially one or two-person camera crew for most of the filming, we exploited our lack of resources to get closer to the stories that presented themselves. Our small presence allowed ourselves to work closely with GayBelarus leading up to their pride march, as we stayed with them on a daily basis and filmed all aspects of their preparations. We became close friends with the activists and so they let us into their lives. They exposed their heart-breaking stories with sincerity.
I still remember vividly when I was brought close to tears interviewing a pre-op transsexual who explained her need to prove mental instability to be granted a sex change operation and how she wishes she could leave the country she loved but could not. It culminated in me witnessing her request to join GayBelarus so she could fight for her rights; to defend her country. Our intimacy allowed us to capture many similar personal stories; most demonstrating the oppression and pains they’ve felt just for being themselves. Although it seemed a desperate struggle, their determination and passion to march on the streets, to be visible, and attempt to gain some recognition for their rights left a strong impression, which is something, I have tried to constantly instil in East Bloc Love.
29 March 2011 – GayBy.net
В Беларуси отмечается резкий рост ВИЧ-инфекции среди МСМ
В ходе дебат-клуба «ВИЧ – проблема личная или общая», организованного проектом Гей Альянс Беларуси при поддержке РМОО «Встреча», участники обсудили ситуацию с распространением ВИЧ-инфекции среди мужчин, имеющих секс с мужчинами (МСМ).
Согласно данным Отдела профилактики ВИЧ/СПИДа Республики Беларусь, на 1 апреля, на учете с диагнозом ВИЧ-инфекция стоят 64 мужчины, которые указали путь передачи ВИЧ при гомосексуальных контактах. Однако, как было отмечено в рамках дебат-клуба, реальная цифра в сотни раз выше и составляет, по оценочным данным, около полторы тысячи человек.
Почему официальная и неофициальная статистика отличается в сотни раз легко объяснимо. Мужчины, имеющие секс с мужчинами, из-за присутствующей стигмы и дискриминации гомосексуалов в стране, предпочитают не говорить об истинном пути заражения, придумывая иные варианты, многие МСМ не становятся на учет, боясь разглашения информации об их ВИЧ-статусе.
Как отметил руководитель РМОО «Встреча», организации, занимающейся профилактикой ВИЧ/СПИДа среди МСМ в Беларуси, за последние годы ежегодная регистрация случаев заражения ВИЧ через гомосексуальный контакт увеличилась на 300%. И как отметил Олег Еремин, ситуация с распространением ВИЧ среди МСМ уже сложно контролируемая.
По состоянию на 1 марта 2011 года общее число случаев ВИЧ-инфекции в Республике Беларусь 11 929. Подавляющее число ВИЧ-инфицированных – это молодые люди в возрасте от 15 до 29 лет. Общее количество случаев ВИЧ-инфекции в этой возрастной группе составляет 64%. Основной путь заражения ВИЧ, в последние годы, происходит в основном через сексуальные контакты.
April 7, 2011 – GayBy.net
(Translated from Russian)
Belarusian Male Prostitutes are Not on the Road
As the deputy head of the Drug Control and Anti-Trafficking MIA Sergei Koltun, in an interview KP.BY, registered at the police station, at the moment, consist of about 10 men, sex workers. And as noted by Koltun, "they do not stand on the road, and offering sexual services, but are usually on the Internet. And we arrest them for engaging in prostitution."
"In contrast to the typical female prostitutes, it is quite educated men. They can hardly be called Alfonso, because they provide a service once and long-term relationships with women does not turn "- said the police officer. Who have sex service men remains unknown, however, if you look at well-known Russian dating sites, which moved all Belarusians, after the banning of such resources in Belarus, the male prostitutes offer their services to both sexes. As noted by Serey Koltun, their services are becoming more popular. "
However, from the public viewing hides another side of prostitution, which is not raised on a general review and discussion. If you spend 30 minutes and see the profiles on a dating site, then find a partner for the night for the money will not make much effort. Before the user of the resource can get a different problem – the problem of choice and the question of cash in the wallet.
In recent years, and other types of prostitution among men. For example, some men are willing to have sex for a couple of tens of thousands of rubles, some for pay phone, and some of the less important things. According to a study conducted among men who have sex with men within the National Monitoring and Evaluation system of the HIV / AIDS in Belarus, according to the data for the year 2009 10,3% of the respondents had had sex for a fee and 10.8% of study participants paid for sex. Moreover, only 61.9% of sellers of sex used a condom during their last sexual relations. As for buyers of sex-service, a percentage slightly higher – 65.9% of clients used a condom during last sexual contact.
How are punished for prostitution in different countries? Belarus – the first time can be brought to administrative responsibility in the form of a fine of up to 20 basic units (700 thousand. – Ed.). For repeated detention during the year – up 50 base (currently 1.75 million. – Ed.). Russia – a fine of 1,5 – 2 thousand Russian rubles (160 -214 000 – Ed.).
France – prostitution is not forbidden, but forbidden to accost passers-by and provocatively dressed. For it can be punished by two months in prison or a fine of 3,750 euros. UAE – 3 years in prison and 50 strokes of the cane. Syria – imprisonment for 10 years. Canada–from 200 to 2000 dollars for the clients of prostitutes; sex workers are not punished. Sweden, Iceland and Norway–attracting customers, arrest for 6 months or a fine. And the sex worker is discharged and the evidence against the client.
April 20, 2011 – Uk Gay News
Belarusian Gay Activist: “If Everyone Sits at Home, Will Things Ever Change?” – An Interview With Sergey Yenin
Minski (GayRussia/UK Gay News) – Fighting for democracy is a real challenge in Belarus, to say the least. Fighting especially for gay rights is even more difficult. In a country where homophobia is widespread, LGBT activists hardly get any support to their cause. Despite the risk it creates for their safety, they still believe that if being visible is a risk, it is also the only chance to change things. Last year, the first Gay Pride to be held in Minsk was marred with violence from the police and 11 participants were arrested.
In January, a group of activists formed IDAHO Belarus, a local branch of the French-based LGBT NGO. A month later, they scored their first success with the organisation of the first ‘gay-labelled’ rally sanctioned in Minsk.
Hazard, or change of attitude?
The group is still struggling to get their organisation registered by the government – and some of its members have been pressured to spy for the notorious KGB, the local secret service. In less than a month, they still plan to hold the first Equality Festival which will include a March to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17. The co-chair of IDAHO Belarus, Sergey Yenin – a young Belarusian activist who was ‘sacked’ from his university over political activism and arrested at last year’s Minsk Slavic Pride rally, answers our questions.
Only one month after you formed IDAHO Belarus, the City Hall authorised your first rally for gay rights while all previous attempts were banned. Can you tell us more about it?
Sergey Yenin: It’s true that it’s the first ever picket for gay rights to be authorised in Minsk. But we submitted dozens of applications before this one was authorised. Honestly, we still do not really know why they authorised this one and not the others. We were positively surprised. The picket was dedicated to Valentine’s Day and therefore took place on February 14. The City Executive Committee allowed it, but they put some limitations.
We were not allowed to use rainbow flags and instead we prepared posters against homophobia. But we could live with that. For us, it was very symbolical to have this public action authorised. We were even protected by the police. We showed that it is possible to have such actions conducted in our capital. There was no problem. It did not last long because the temperature was very low. The thermometer showed minus 20C! We were completely frozen – but so happy!
But despite the big hopes that this rally created, you are still facing troubles to get your organization registered. Why?
Firstly you must know that there are no LGBT organisations registered in Belarus and this is why we are trying to get IDAHO Belarus officially registered. Secondly, you also need to know that according to our laws, activists of non-registered organizations can be prosecuted. All the different LGBT groups which have been operating in the last years did so illegally. The government is not interested in registering those organisations which fight for the rights of minorities and demand equal rights. By not registering us, they keep a way to pressure us. Also, the process of registering was made especially complicated and bureaucratic.
We’ve been trying to register since January and all the time we try to apply, there is a new difficulty. For example, twice in a row, the agreement we had to rent our office was called off at the last minute – as if the landlord was pressured by someone. And without a judicial redress, there is no registration possible. But we are not giving up and I hope we will get it at the end. We are registering as a local branch of the French IDAHO Committee.
Most recently, your members have triggered the interest of the KGB? Are you pressured to stop your activities? Are they spying you?
One of our outstanding activists, Varvara Krasutskaya, was pressured by KGB. They identified her as she was beaten and arrested while taking part to a peaceful public action against the falsified result of the Presidential election on December 19. The authorities used the same trick against her than they did with me in the past. The Dean of her University told her that she would not be expelled from the University but she will not be given any diploma. They often do that because they know that if they sack you officially from the University, it is often easier to go and study abroad. But if you are not sacked, it is much more difficult to prove your case. Later, she was contacted by KGB to cooperate with them. They even offered her a contract and a salary! Her job would be to collect as much as possible information on the activities of our organization and our activists. Of course, she denied.
In this context, is it safe to continue your activities?
We are not going to surrender. If everyone sits at home, will things ever change in this country? On our side, everything is going according to our plans. KGB interference always existed. We know that they listen to our home phones and mobiles. We know that they follow our internet traffic. And we know that when we want to organise some actions we are being followed. This is something we have to live with – and we need to adapt.
For example, recently, we launched our new website. We use a server based outside Belarus and we purchased several extensions (.org, .com, .net, .info, .eu) which are beyond the control of the Belarusian government. They cannot shut down our site and cannot cancel our domain names. We also do not discuss important matters by phone, but via other different means.
April 2011 – Belarus Digest
New Lessons for Belarusian LGBT Community
In February 2011, at a conference on family planning a high-profile lecturer of the Belarusian Medical Academy Sviatlana Kunickaja said in the presence of many journalists that homosexuals are ill people and should be treated medically. Dealing with such statements within Belarusian medical, political or media state framework would be impossible. Kunickaja is a member of a commission of the Ministry of Education in charge of preparing an official agreement with the Orthodox Church. She has long history of religiously motivated work in the Medical Academy promoting “Christian morality” which had never been challenged. Also, the Belarusian Medical Academy remained silent when in 2009 another of its lecturers, Ihar Rybin, publicly said that “homosexuality makes people animals”.
This time, however, LGBT activists threatened to appeal to the Academy’s EU partners, calling on them to freeze their contacts with the Academy in view of repeated homophobic intolerance, disregard for fundamental human rights and non-scientific approaches to medical practice and teaching. Two weeks after the letter was published on gay websites, the head of the Medical Academy replied that the homophobic incidents had been discussed by the governing body of the Academy and that the views of the two named lecturers were not shared by the rest on the teachers of that institution. Kunickaja and Rybin were ordered not to make any offensive and non-scientific public statements contradicting the norms of medical ethics.
While same-sex relationships are not illegal in Belarus, homosexuality is only barely tolerated by a large part of Belarusian society and the Belarusian authorities in particular. There is no single law protecting sexual minorities from discrimination and violent homophobic behaviour is not regarded as a hate-based crime. In this social climate public figures, such as politicians, celebrities and high-profile doctors often make homophobic speeches and their views have rarely been challenged in any meaningful way. The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Belarus is learning lessons of living in a country of declarative equality, while gradually exploiting imaginative ways of dealing with homophobic attitudes.
LGBT activists naturally gravitate toward the pro-democratic third sector, political opposition and independent media: the Belarusian state system throws to the margins anyone who cannot be controlled by that system. LGBT activists working for civil rights and equality challenge the state system even if that challenge is not their primary aim.
In addition, LGBT activists have found that they cannot automatically expect a warm welcome from everyone proclaiming their commitment to a freer, more democratic Belarus. On the “Black List” of the gay rights group GayBelarus one can find activists and leaders from the Christian Democrats and other right-wing parties, including their youth groups, who publicly – and often in offensive terms – oppose equal rights for gays.
Maintaining the “Black List” is only a more public sign of what is being done on other levels, including informing the European partners of Belarusian political parties and the donors to non-governmental organisations about the homophobic actions of leading members of these groups. At the same time, LGBT activists work on building connections with the rest of socially active part of the Belarusian landscape, including the national umbrella Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations.
April 30, 2011 – Gay UK News
Minsk Equality Festival to Stage Premier of Gay Pride Documentary Film
Minsk – A special private screening of East Bloc Love is one of the features of the Equality Festival in Minsk next month. Details of the festival, which celebrates the lives of minorities, including the gay and transgender community in Belarus, were announced this morning. “Being a member of a minority group in Belarus is extremely difficult and isolating,” Sergey Yenin, deputy chair of organisers IDAHO-Belarus, told UK Gay News. “So the Equality Festival will bring these lone voices together in solidarity and send a clear message to the government that equality should be for everyone.”
East Bloc Love is a feature-length documentary directed by Australian Logan Mucha and co-produced with GayRussia. The screening, when the director will be present, will be followed by a discussion on the state of minorities in Belarus. The festival is scheduled to be held between May 14 to 17, culminating of the final day, which is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, with a March for Equality. IDAHO-Belarus is currently in the process of applying to the Minsk Executive Committee for permission and a location to hold the march. Similar events in the past are usually banned.
But Mr. Yenin said that IDAHO-Belarus hopes to gain permission. More than 200 applications have been made for differing locations across Minsk. “This leaves the authorities with little choice to agree at least one location,” Mr. Yenin said. On May 15, there will be the opening of the Walk With Pride IDAHO Exhibition by American photographer, Charles Meacham. He will be showing a selection of his work from his 2010 project which saw him spending a year photographing Gay Pride events across the globe.
Afterwards the exhibition opening there will be a vigil to commemorate the lives of people living with HIV in celebration of the 28th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day. The Equality Festival’s schedule, including times and locations will be released closer to the event on IDAHO-Belarus’ Website.
05 May, 2011 – GayBy
Date Selected for Minsk Gay Pride
The Organizing Committee of the Seventh Minsk Pride gave final approval to the date of the events of the festival in support of a tolerant attitude towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in Belarus. The date of the march selected the City Day, celebrated on the second Saturday in September, which this year falls on September 10. The festival will be held in Minsk from August 30 to September 12, public action of the festival in support of equal rights will be held on September 10, the second Saturday in September, along with festive activities of the City Day.
"Through public action Gay Pride Day in the city, we want to show that our action, contrary to the opinion of many, nothing vulgar public shares of the holiday of the Belarusian capital. If the power will not impede the Minsk Gay Pride, Minsk residents and guests will be able to break many of their stereotypes about gays and lesbians, as well as relax and spend time with interest in the activities of the Minsk Gay Pride 2011 "- says the organizer of the Minsk Pride and Head of Human Rights LGBT Project GeyBelarus Sergei Androsenko.
In the framework of the Minsk Gay Pride 2011 will be held the general press conference on the life of homosexuals in Belarus, film screenings, seminars, workshops, parties, exhibitions, 6 national LGBT conference finals Mr Gay Belarus. The organizer of the Minsk Gay Pride is a human rights project "GeyBelarus" among the participating organizations including almost all LGBT organizations in Belarus – The Gay Alliance of Belarus, Labrys, "Volunteers Without Borders", directly to the Festival organizers expect more active NGO sector and political parties in organizing activities against homophobia and xenophobia in the Belarusian capital.
It is worth noting that the Minsk Gay Pride 2011 will take place at a time when the United Nations recommended that the Republic of Belarus to include representatives of the LGBT community in the decision making process at the state level and improve the visibility of LGBT people in Belarus. April 20, 2011 the UN system, after a lengthy revision and approval, published the final recommendations of major international consultation on men who have homosexual sex, which took place late last year in Kiev for the countries of Eastern Europe, Baltic, Central Asia and Transcaucasia. The Organizing Committee of the Minsk Pride is already working on organizing activities of the Minsk Pride and registration of foreign participants. Pride in Minsk plan to visit the guests from Europe, CIS, and also from America.
"Undoubtedly, the Minsk Gay Pride will be a major human rights activities in Belarus and what effect it will produce, not least also depends on the Belarusians themselves, and the Belarusian authorities. We urge the authorities to take measures to protect and preserve the activities of the Minsk Pride of the radical fascist and religious groups, "- said in a press release from the organizing committee of the Minsk Gay Pride. Recall that the activities of the Slavic Pride 2010 held in Minsk from 14 to 17 May, while some activities are faced with homophobic resistance to football fans and right-wing radicals, a public rally on May 15 was dispersed by riot police, as a result 12 people were arrested, five for three hours and seven in two days. Minsk Gay Pride 2011 will take place under the slogan "Love! Freedom! Change! ", Ridiculing the way the homophobia of the youth organization" Young Front "to ban gay activists to participate in" Young Front "St. Valentine’s day.
May 12, 2011 – Gay UK News
Minsk City Authorities Say ‘No’ 100 Times to Planned Equality March Organised by Gay Group
Minsk(GayRussia) – City authorities in the Belarus capital have refused permission for IDAHO Belarus to stage a March for Equality next week to coincide with International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The group had filed 100 applications that covered most parts of Minsk. All were rejected. In most cases, the reasons for the refusal were public safety considerations
On April 29, activists Sergey Praded, Natalya Praded, Sergey Yenin, Alesya Yakubovskaya and Roman Navoev filed one hundred applications for the march with the Minsk City Executive Committee. “Our applications covered almost all the possible streets and square of Minsk where a public action can be organized and this included the city suburbs,” said IDAHO Belarus co-chair Sergey Praded said this afternoon.
Asked why the organizers opted to apply for permission to stage the march with 100 different application, he explained: “We often get denial with the argument that the location we request is already booked by other groups and this is why this time our applications covered almost all the possible streets and squares of Minsk where a public action can be organised including in the suburbs. We also proposed different time slots.”
The Equality March was intended to gather various social groups to raise the issue of human rights violations, discrimination and intolerant attitude to people on grounds of belonging to a minority. The street action was to take place during the Equality Festival, which opens in Minsk on Saturday (May 14) with the screening of the documentary East Bloc Love, an Australian-Russian production directed by Logan Mucha, as well as the exhibition Images Against Homophobia by American photographer Chad Meacham. On hearing that permission had been refused for all 100 application organisers said they have not yet decided whether they will hold the event, despite the absence of permit. Mr. Praded confirmed to GayRussia that the bans will be appealed in court.
Last year, the Slavic Gay Pride was banned by the City Hall – but the organisers defied the ban. A dozen of Belarusian and Russian participants, including some of the organisers, were arrested and detained. Last February Belarusian LGBT activists held their first authorized demonstration in Minsk. Around a dozen of them protested against homophobia and ask for the respect for the rights of sexual minorities in Belarus. There were no incidents during the event.
May 17, 2011 – UK Gay News
Gay Activist Sergei Androsenko Reported Among 20 Arrested in Minsk During ‘Flashmob’
Minsk (GayBy/UK Gay News) – Sergei Androsenko, leader of the Human Rights Project GayBelarus, is among around 20 activists who are reported to have been arrested by police during a ‘flashmob’ today. The ‘flashmob’ is believed to have been a side-event to the IDAHO-Belarus ‘Equality March’ today. [Early reports suggest that the IDAHO-Belarus ‘Equality March’ was staged without any problems – or arrests, despite it being banned by the authorities following 100 different applications.]
The arrests were made when activists staged their own event to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It was planned that leaflets explaining marking International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia would be distributed by the ‘flashmob’ Reports say that when participants in the ‘flashmob’ got to Independence Avenue, they met a ‘blockade’ of plain clothed police officers. Following the arrests, the activists were taken away in a riot police bus. Their whereabouts is not know at this stage.
It is thought that in addition to gay activists, members of the Young Social Democrats – Young Gromada – were arrested. There are no reports so far from American photographer Chad Meacham or Australian filmmaker Logan Mucha. Both are in Minsk documenting the IDAHO-Belarus festival.
Update: GayBY is now reporting that 15 were arrested. They have all reportedly been released.
June 16, 2011 – UK Gay News
‘East Bloc Love’ Film Has World Premier at Frameline LGBT Film Festival.
The feature documentary ‘East Bloc Love’ by Australian filmmaker Logan Mucha and co-produced with GayRussia, gets its world premier at the 35th Frameline LGBT International Film Festival.
The feature documentary ‘East Bloc Love’ by Australian filmmaker Logan Mucha and co-produced with GayRussia, gets its world premier next week at the 35th Frameline LGBT International Film Festival.East Bloc Love is Logan Mucha’’s debut feature length documentary, shot on location in six Eastern European countries. It follows young Sergey and a few brave activists in Belarus, where being openly gay leads to beatings and arrest, who decide to take to the streets to demand equality.
September 9, 2011 – News.GayBy.net
(Poor Russian to English translation)
Mister Gay Belarus
The winner in the competition for Mister Gay Belarus became the poster person for social advertisement for safe sex. The factors, which facilitate the risky behavior among MSM are investigated in Belarus.
In the first 9 months of 2009 it was revealed 810 HIV-positive patients. In Belarus the increase in the prevalence of HIV infection rose to 21,7% is noted.
Nine new cases of HIV infection are revealed among MSM in 2009. Free medical treatment [IPPP] can be obtained in Bobruysk, Svetlogorsk and Pinsk.
They began to develop legislation about the responsibility for propagation HIV in Belarus [Grodno] shows the worst results on the preventive maintenance HIV among MSM in Belarus: the high risk of HIV infection with the high standard of knowledge.
Belarus will not obtain Global Fund financing in the 10th round. Parents asked to exclude questions of HIV/AIDS from the training process.
13 September, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
Minsk Gay Pride 2011 will take place from 11 to 23 October
Organizers of the Minsk Gay Pride sent a statement on the march in support of tolerance towards homosexuals, which is scheduled for October 22, in Minsk city executive committee.
"Minsk Gay Pride – it’s a human rights forum, we will speak about the right to be themselves. Not all Belarusians are still equal and have equal rights, in particular, homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people still can not be myself in this country, despite the decriminalization of homosexuality in Belarus in 1994 and free sex-change operations. LGBT community is still forced to hide their identity, to lie to others, family, invent ways to "trick" the legislation seek to justify his own weakness – it is a problem "- the chairman of the organizing committee of the Minsk Pride and chairman of the Human Rights Project "GayBelarus" Siarhei Androsenka.
Organizers of the Minsk Pride want to see homosexuals Belarus happy, honest and proud people. Today, in a large group of citizens of Belarus did not even dream of right to be themselves, and beatings of homosexuals or heterosexuals, even that suddenly seemed like the stereotypical gay man – became a common practice.
Click here for PDF
October 5, 2011 – Uk Gay News
Exiled Belarusian Gay Activist Set to Visit UK to Attend UK Premier of Documentary Film East Bloc Love – Sergey Yenin will speak out in Shrewsbury against brutal and homophobic Belarus regime
Shrewsbury – Sergey Yenin, one of the featured gay activists from eastern Europe featured in the documentary East Bloc Love, will be attending the UK premier of the film at the sixth Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival next month. “I am grateful for being given the opportunity to highlight our cause to the wider European community,” Mr. Yenin, who currently lives in Poland, told UK Gay News. “I’ve been beaten by police, thrown out of my university by the secret police and exiled to Warsaw, but I will not be silenced by the dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenka. Gay people in Belarus have no voice,” he added.
After the screening of the film, by young Australian documentary film maker Logan Mucha – it is his first feature-length film, Mr. Yenin will lead a “Q&A” session with the audience. Following its successful world premiere at the San Francisco Frameline LGBT International Film Festival, East Bloc Love will mark its UK premiere at the Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury on October 15 at 1.30pm. The film was made with the support of GayRussia. The greater part of the film follows the actions of a small group of Belarusian LGBT activists preparing to march on the streets of the capital Minsk, to show their pride in spite of a government ban and threats of beatings from skinheads.
Geoff Hardy of the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival said that the selection of the film was because it “is important that we do not rest on our laurels”. “We have achieved a lot here over the forty years since I started campaigning through GLF (Gay Liberation Front),” he said. “There is still a long way to go, but I often come across a complacency that, as we have a vibrant gay scene – mostly in the cities – and have an ability to live more openly, that we have arrived.
“This is not true. We have achieved much, but we live in one world and there are many places in which there is horrendous prejudice and downright oppression. We need to support those who are speaking out in these countries, give them the hope, based upon our experiences, that things can change, given time and campaigning. Showing East Bloc Love highlights the struggle and the courageousness of those willing to stand out and proud, despite the consequences. We need to show our solidarity with their struggle.
“We can do this by screening films such as this. The more people over here, gay and straight, realise what happens in countries such as Belarus, the more seriously the case will be taken up and pressure brought to bear on the regime there,” he said.
Mr. Hardy added that the screening is sponsored by the West Mercia Police and that Chief Constable David Shaw would be present, taking part in a Q&A session with Mr. Yenin following the screening. “If I was in Sergey’s shoes, this would encourage me – he will have some idea of how things used to be here and see how things have changed, to a point where a Chief Constable is at a screening such as this,” Mr. Hardy added.
13 October 2011 – N-Europe.eu
Translated from Russian
Interview With Activist Igor Ivanov: To Survive in a Society with Homophobic Power
by Vladimir Scherban
From 11 to 23 October 2011 in Minsk Belarus is host to Gay Pride events. Vladimir Scherban talks with Igor Ivanov – active participant in the life of the Belarusian Diaspora in Britain, Catholic and gay.
– I will start with the most terrible question: how old are you?
– You were going to make a career Catholic priest in Belarus, then changed your mind. Why?
Career – slightly the wrong word, maybe. In principle, all Catholic boys sooner or later, thinking about how to become priests. I think in any country where life is difficult, there is a temptation for Catholics to solve the complexities of life through the ministry. And gay people – even more so.
– At one time you invited to London to study theology with Nadson legendary father.
Yes, the invitation was from him. I was working in Minsk in the Roman Catholic publishing house, some of my friends were in London, and I thought: why should I not do theology? While such a thing as secular theologians, in my head did not fit, and therefore immediately raised the question of priestly functions. So I arrived in London.
–Sexual identity is often associated with various kinds of fears. At what point did you realize that you – gay?
I think I learned about it early enough, but I had no such notion in my head. I was born in the Soviet Union. I just have not seen this term, as a gay, or more precisely, a word I knew, but never associated with them.
– And when you are admitted to yourself?
It was too late. In my case I did not have to admit, I had to find myself. It happened quite mystical. At that time I was in the community of Charismatics, mainly consisting of young people. Latent conflict gradually grew – I have started to appear quite serious depressive mood. I remember it was on Sunday: we gathered at the headquarters of the community at prayer meeting, we prayed and sang together. And at some point, I remember I had a vision (The only thing I can compare with the lights on advertisements), simply reading "gay." I think that I fell deeply in my feelings, and when the vision appeared, I realized that it has to do with me, and my life suddenly became clear to me through the word. By the way, was not gay and homosexual. Then I stopped, sat on the floor, I was very frightened, and before the end of the day did not speak. I stopped going to the charismatics, I just did not fit there. I even stopped going to his Greek-Catholic parish.
– Have you told anyone about it?
I do not think I was ready to admit, I think at that point it was important to someone to tell about it as a problem. To anyone could sympathize with and help. Of course, nothing that I could not find. Four months later, I again began to walk in his parish.
– But you already had a secret …
She was in the past, there has emerged the concept … In London, the Institute, I had access to theological literature, and Catholic theology seemed very gay-frendly …
Catholic theology is based on the idea that knowledge of God – this is part of the whole of human knowledge, that science can not be denied. Since sexuality is more complicated, because sexuality is tied to morality, and there are a lot of fear there. And so what he says the Catholic hierarchy – is not quite what it says Catholic theology. I was digging on the internet and found some gay Catholics. At first I was afraid to go out with them on contact, but once he made up my mind (when I was already in the second year), and wrote them a letter. My life is then turned around very much, because I started talking to people who were Catholics, understand my reality, they were willing to help me, demanding nothing in return. It was a space where I could do by itself. Once I found the book of James Allison, ‘Faith without Resentment’.
Read complete article (in Russian) here
October 16, 2011 – UK Gay News
Gay Rights in Belarus Could Dramatically Improve Within Four Years, Belarusian Activist Predicts
Shrewsbury – A gay activist from Belarus said yesterday that he personally felt that Gay Pride would be permitted by the authorities in “three or four years”. Sergey Yenin, who is currently studying at a university in Warsaw, was speaking the UK Premier screening of Logan Mucha’s feature documentary about the lack of LGBT rights in Eastern Europe, East Block Love. “The dictatorship and regime of Alexander Lukashenko weakens by the day,” he told UK Gay News. “There is a catastrophic economic situation right now and some people cannot even afford to buy food.”
Mr. Yenin agreed that most in the ‘sold out’ audience were visibly shocked at what they saw in the film. “I can fully understand,” he said. “It’s the difference between what is happening in Western Europe and Eastern Europe.” And he hoped that those seeing the film will never “take their freedoms for granted”.
The screening yesterday was a week ahead of the re-scheduled Minsk Gay Pride March. Mr. Yenin said that the Pride March had been banned by the Minsk authorities and as far as he knew there were no other Pride activities scheduled. “I expect that there will be a few activists who will ignore the ban,” he said. “The will face arrest by the police, a fine or even imprisonment.”
Audio: Interview With Sergey Yenin (7 minutes)
The screening of East Block Love was part of the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival and was sponsored by the West Mercia Police. Attending was Chief Constable David Shaw, who said that the film was “a good reminder that we must never take anything for granted”. He added that the film makes one realise that there is much to do in some European countries for LGBT rights. “Britain can be, rightly, proud of how it looks after diverse ways of life,” he said. But he warned: There are still people out there who want to suppress different ways of life.”
17 October 2011 – Chapter 97
Gay Pride in Minsk banned
Minsk city executive committee has banned Minsk Gay Pride alon Akademik Krasin Street in the micro district of Sosny. It is stated in the press-release published by the human rights project “Gay Belarus.” On October 7 at a press-conference for Russian mass media Lukashenka stated that he homosexuality is unacceptable for him, but he would not ban gay parades like Russia does. “I would not ban that. Somewhere in the outskirts of the city, for people to wonder… let them show to the people what they can,” the leader said.
As the press-release of “Gay Belarus” reads, the applicants for holding the Gay Pride had received an answer from Minsk city executive committee, where officials state that “the march is forbidden.” The letter is signed by the deputy chairman of Minsk city executive committee Ihar Karpenka. “Despite the fact that the route of the march was situated far from the city centre in a deserted place, the city authorities decided that the public rally of the LGBT community should be banned, as holding the event had been planned at a distance of 50 metres from the territory of organisations providing vital activities of the population,” “Gay Belarus” report stresses.
Besides, the authorities decided that “holding this rally would hinder pedestrian traffic and even the transport traffic.” “I find prohibition of Minsk Gay Pride discriminatory and repressive. It could be clearly seen from justification of the ban. We filed an application for holding the rally far from central Minsk to demonstrate Belarusians and the world the absurdity and the authoritarian nature of the Belarusian political system,” Andrei Androsenka, the chairman of the steering committee of Minsk Gay Pride told BelaPAN commenting on the decision.