Gay Belarus News & Reports 2004-06

1 Gay Cultural Events Cancelled in Belarus 8/04

2 Homophobic MTV in Belarus 4/05

3 Criminal Prosecution Of Homosexuals Proposed In Belarus 4/05

4 Celebrate International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) in Belarus 5/05

5 Majority of Russians oppose gay marriages or gay President 6/05

6 Homophobic rule on Music-TV station defeated 6/05

7 Opening of Belorussian LGBT portal 7/05

7a  Gay Life in Belarus 2/06

8 Blue revolution in Belarus includes gays 4/06

9 LGBT rights defenders speakers tour to the North-West of Germany 6/06

10 Protest against state homophobia on Solidarity Day in Washington, DC 8/06

11 Activists Released 22 hours of Detention by Police 11/06

12 LGBT Culture and Human Rights was forced to cancel the event 11/06

International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network

August 25, 2004

Gay Cultural Events Cancelled in Belarus:
Threats from Belarusian Regime Force the Organisers to Cancel the Festival Minsk/Stockholm The organizing committee of the final (Belarusian) phase of the 4th International Moonbow Human Rights & Homo Cultural Festival and the 1st stage of this year’s ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) World Lesbian and Gay World Conference — August 28-29, 2004 — have been forced to cancel the event in Minsk.

This comes after authorities in this Eastern European dictatorship frightened a club owner into withdrawing his promise to host the event and non-governmental human rights activists from attending the event. In addition, threatening phone calls from authorities said foreigners trying to attend the event for workshops and discussions "would be immediately expelled from the country in keeping with the article of intervention in domestic affairs of the Republic of Belarus."

Adding to the threats, neo-nazi organizations are making appeals to the authorities to do "everything" to stop the conference and warning that homosexuals should not be allowed to place flowers at a downtown monument on behalf of homosexual victims of past violence and that homosexuality itself is to be totally exterminated in Belarus.

" The club owner was afraid of repeated police attacks similar to events a few years ago at the previous Minsk Prides," says Viachaslau Bortnik, chairman of Belarus-Amnesty, the main organizer of the 2004 event. An Appeal to the Swedish and other Governments, Moonbow in "Exile"

" We call on the Swedish and other governments, European politicians, ILGA and other human rights groups to condemn the homophobic threats of the Belarus regime," says Bill Schiller, the Nordic co-ordinator of the ILGCN, the Moonbow co-ordinator and chairman of Tupilak, the Nordic organization of lesbian and gay cultural workers. While the rest of Europe is moving forwards, this last dictatorship in Europe is trying to push its homosexual community into a 1930s nazi style concentration camp," says Schiller. "Sweden and other democratic governments of Europe must react to the harassment, persecution and international isolation of human beings."

" Together with our colleagues in Belarus, we in Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland and other Nordic nations and elsewhere, are already planning the next "Belarus Moonbow Festivals" either in Minsk, Stockholm, Vilnius or any where in exile, until the memory of this homophobic dictatorship fades like all others into the past, " Schiller adds. " No regime or gang of neo Nazis talks of burying homosexuality today as we hear in Minsk today. All other European nations are saluting the enormous artistic, scientific, commercial, social and tourist contributions of their homosexual communities. The only grave this homophobic dictator and its homophobic neo nazi supporters are digging are their own using the tools of hatred, intolerance and ignorance."

Moonbow festivals this year have taken place in St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, Stockholm and Warsaw. The next scheduled stage of the 7th world ILGCN homo cultural conference is San Jan, Puerto Rico, September 26-27, 2004. TUPILAC – The Nordic Homo Council-Europe

From: "Sementsov Svyatoslav" <>

(A confusing report about an Belarus MTV-sort of TV channel and it’s policy toward gays.)

12 April 2005

Homophobic MTV in Belarus

Here is some news from Belarus. You can use it where ever you what (magazines, newsletters, web-site’s)

"The first TV musical channel" was founded 1 of March 2002. The channel belongs to Byelorussian independent Dobrovidenie Company. It works in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia; and via satellite everywhere. The First MusicChannel is oriented to youth from 16 to 35 and is popular with modern Belarusian culture. "First musical canal" is unique in the Republic of Belarus. Some days before it’s birthday, the Music Channel gave a great present to onlookers: gays and lesbians were officially forbidden to put their announcements for their meeting by "running string" on this channel.

" First MusicChannel" added a new homophobic point to their rules. Among ‘Sexual Services’ ads, despite the taboo, were added announcements: "propagandize (men) non-traditional sexual relationship like: … boy (men) wants to meet with boy (men); … pair wants to meet with pair (men, women); … girl (women) wants to meet with girl (women)" You can read this rule your self on official TV canal web site. (For the official rule see: (Russian version only)
Therefore "First musical canal" was the first company in Belarus who officially publicly said that discrimination based on sexual orientation is the rule of the Channel.

It is a real pity that in other countries Music Channels support gay prides and events, but in our country even independent organizations make people more homophobic. In addition, who can say that one type of sexual relationship is more traditional than other…

Sementsov Svyatoslav
Vstrecha (The Meeting)

From: Sementsov Svyatoslav
Vstrecha (The Meeting)

April 2005

Criminal Prosecution Of Homosexuals Proposed In Belarus

The deputy of the "chamber of representatives" of the national assembly of Belarus, Viktar Kuchynski, considers it necessary to criminalize homosexuality. "My position as a deputy is: all these "queers" and others are to be punished to the maximum", he told the parliament at the session of the lower chamber during the discussion concerning the presidential decree regarding some matters of human trade prevention.

In this connection Kuchynski told that the Criminal Code is to be amended, and penalty for homosexuality introduced, Interfax informs.
But the Interior Minister of Belarus Ukladzimir Navumau noted that the law-enforcing agencies "have not encountered violent acts against men. Mutual consent is usually present [in these relations], and we would not like to encroach upon this sphere deeply," the minister said.

Nation-wide gay NGO "Vstrecha" (Meeting) and Amnesty International Belarus invite you to join us on 17 May to celebrate International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) in Belarus!

On this day we’ll wear pink triangles to honor gay victims of Nazism and Communism and to protest against governmental policy toward homosexuals in Belarus. Our activist will also collect signatures under petitions to support IDAHO and Jerusalem World Pride.

In Gomel we’ll also bring flowers to the monument to Peter Tchaikovski – very famous Russian composer and gay, who became a symbol of the gay movement in Soviet Union in the late 80’s.
Join us! Together we’ll win!!!

Svyatoslav Sementsov
Head of office
Executive Board Member
Foreign contacts manager
Republic Youth Society Association, Gomel Office
Registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus, certificated on 10 November 2004.

Republic Youth Society Association is the oldest and the biggest LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) organization in Belarus. Our short name is Vstrecha (The Meeting). We are a non-government, non-political and non-profit organization with seven offices in all regional cities and the head office in Minsk. Vstrecha (The Meeting) is a full member of ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) since 2003.

Vstrecha (The Meeting)
p.o. box â„– 298
246050 Gomel
tel.: +375 297 39 08 82

From: Svyatoslav (Slava) Sementsov" <>

1 June 2005

Majority of Russians oppose gay marriages and a gay President but support ban on sexual orientation discrimination

Hello dear friends, form all parts of world. I’m glad to present you some recent news from our Belarus. This article is not about Belarus but about Russia. However our the gay situation in our country is almost the same, so thats why I am sending it.

Public opinion poll: Majority of Russians oppose gay marriages and a gay President but support ban on sexual orientation discrimination. The poll was conducted by Levada Centre requested by the charitable fund Raduga for the project GayRussia.Ru. The poll was ordered specially for the International Day against homophobia to measure the level of homophobia in Russian society.

From 15-18 April 2005, 1600 Russian people were interviewed.

Question #1:
If before the elections of the President of Russia, the candidate you like announced his homosexuality, you will most likely
1. still vote for this candidate 13,8%
2. will vote for another candidate 42,8%
3. will vote against all candidates or will not go for the elections at all 21%
4. never take part in the elections and do not plan to take part 5,3%
5. don’t know 17,1%

For the majority of Russians the sexual orientation of the presidential candidate is still a crucial thing. Only less than 14% of Russians will still vote for their preferred candidate if he is a homosexual. Sexual orientation of the presidential candidate is more important for Russians than his political manifesto and program. This sharply contrasts with the similar poll conducted in France where, for the absolute majority of French (73%), the most important issue of a candidate is not his sexuality (poll conducted by SOFRES for Tetu on 20 February 2002).

Question #2
The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada allowed same-sex couples to marry. You would be for or against that in Russia?
1. definitely for 3,6%
2. rather for 10,7%
3. rather against 28,8%
4. definitely against 44,6%
5. don’t know 12,3%

The absolute majority (73,4%) of Russians are against the legalization of same-sex marriages. Only 14,3% give their support for the idea. This vividly shows that the issue of gay marriages is not on the agenda of the Russian society and that the recent attempt to register a sham gay marriage in Moscow was in sharp dissonance with the Russian society.

Question #3
Would you be for or against a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and incitement toward hatred against gays and lesbians?
1. definitely for 14,2%
2. rather for 28,6%
3. rather against 22,5%
4. definitely against 13,6%
5. don’t know 21,1%

Majority of Russians (42,8%) support a legal ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 36,1% of Russians do not think this is needed. This is the first poll that shows Russian society support for rights of homosexuals. This shows that the Russian society is not as homophobic and intolerant as is deemed. Russians are ready to support a bill on equality for gay people. The issue of ant-idiscrimination legislation also proves to be the most urgent line of action for gay activists in Russia as this is the sphere where the real progress can be reached by lobbying the state institutions.

Question #4
Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should or should not be prosecuted in Russia?
1. should be prosecuted 43,5%
2. should not be prosecuted 37,9%
3. don’t know 18,6%

The majority of Russians support reintroduction of criminal prosecution for consensual homosexuality. Though the numbers of those undecided are very high. Such course of legal action–against gays–is not possible in Russia due to membership in the Council of Europe.

The results of the poll can be republished provided Levada Centre is mentioned and the link is given to

Vstrecha (The Meeting), Office in Gomel
Registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus, certificate â„–01292 on 10 November 2004.
Vstrecha (The Meeting) is the oldest and the biggest organization working for LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) in Belarus. The full name is Republic Youth Society Association "Vstrecha� (“The Meeting�). Vstrecha (The Meeting) is non-government, non-political and non-profit organization. It has 7 offices in all regional cities and one town, the head office is in Minsk.
Vstrecha (The Meeting) is a full member of ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) since 2003.
Vstrecha (The Meeting)
p.o. box â„– 298
246050 Gomel
tel.: +375 297 39 08 82

From: "Svyatoslav (Slava) Sementsov" <>

June 2005

Vstrecha and Amnesty International Belarus LGBT network with support of Byelorussian LGBT NGOs and Byelorussian LGBT web-sites succeed in campaign to cancel homophobic rule on Music-TV station

As you remember from newsletter #3, some months ago the Belarus TV "First Musical Channel" announced that “now gays and lesbians are officially forbidden to put their announcements for their meetings by "running strings" on this channel.

"First Musical Channel" then added a new homophobic point to the rule. Among the ads for sexual services, under the taboo were added announcements that "propagandize non-traditional sexual relationship like ‘ boy (men) wants to meet with boy (men)’, ‘pair wants to meet with pair (men, women); girl (women) wants to meet with girl (women)". You can read this rule your self on the official TV channel web site.
In was in February of this year 2005.

After many requests Vstrecha and Amnesty International Belarus LGBT network with support of other Byelorussian LGBT NGO and Byelorussian LGBT web-sites began campaign to cancel this homophobic rule. We asked for help form LGBT organizations around the world.
Information about this case was presented in many meetings, seminars and conferences. Many newspapers, magazines, web-sites and reports also told about this story. Many e-mails, letters were sent to "First Musical Channel" against this point of rule. And we achieved success two weeks ago The Channel deleted this point from their rules without comments.

I want use this newsletter, and tell thanks to all people and organizations who support and help us in this campaign. Now is not the best time in Belarus and we real need your help in our work and campaigns.

Meeting in Gomel, for 28 of June.

Yesterday, June 26, in Belarus, we celebrate 28 of June, day which calling day of beginning of fight LGBT community for our rights.
In Gomel, office of Vstrecha and Amnesty International Belarus LGBT network organized a meeting of gays and lesbians. This meeting consisted of three parts:
1 Discussion on LGBT world issues, International LGBT organizations and movements, future of LGBT community in Belarus.
2 Presentation of work of Vstrecha and Amnesty International Belarus LGBT network.
3 Watching lyric move about two gay lives.

This STONEWALL REBELLION has been commemorated in 27 June since 1970 in different communities. Today, we celebrate PRIDE in June to honor the courage to resist and rebel in the face of oppression.
We honor those who demonstrated and came ‘out of the closet’ in the beginning…the STONEWALL EBELLION is also the beginning of OUR PRIDE!

Svyatoslav (Slava) Sementsov
Head of office
Executive Board Member
Foreign contacts managerVstrecha (The Meeting), Office in Gomel
Registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus, certificate â„–01292 on 10 November 2004.
Vstrecha (The Meeting) is the oldest and the biggest LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) organization in Belarus. The full name is Republic Youth Society Association "Vstrecha� (The Meeting�). Vstrecha (The Meeting) is non-government, non-political and non-profit organization. It has 7 offices in all regional cities and one town, the head office is in Minsk.
Vstrecha (The Meeting) is a full member of ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) since 2003.
Vstrecha (The Meeting)
p.o. box â„– 298
246050 Gomel
tel.: +375 297 39 08 82

Svyatoslav (Slava) Sementsov" <>

29 July 2005

Opening of Belorussian LGBT portal

Hello, friends of Belarus

Today we are happy to inform you about opening Belorussian LGBT portal This portal consists of 4 parts:
(1) Gomel regional web-site for LGBT (Russian version only)
(2) Information about IDAHO (Intl. Day Against Homophobia) and IDAHO events in Belarus for Belorussian mass-media, NGOs and people (Russian version only)
(3) Legal information about Belarus, LGBT parts of law, matireals about LGBT in Belarus for the last 4 yers (English version only) was made for foreign NGOs and people interested inBelarus and how to support us.
(4) Our new campaign on the Vadim case, sent out from UK. We believe this is a homophobic case and we want to tell about it. On our web-site you can find more matieral and photos about it.

Please send any concerns regarding this portal BelLGBT to and please post our address to your web-sites, I hope that it will be interesting and userful for you.

Svyatoslav (Slava) Sementsov
Head of office
Executive Board Member
Foreign contacts manager

Vstrecha (The Meeting), Office in Gomel
Registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus, certificate â„–01292 on 10 November 2004.
Vstrecha (The Meeting) is the oldest and the biggest organization working for LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) in Belarus. The full name is Republic Youth Society Association "Vstrechaâ€_ (“The Meetingâ€_). Vstrecha (The Meeting) is non-government, non-political and non-profit organization. It has 7 offices in all regional cities and one town, the head office is in Minsk.
Vstrecha (The Meeting) is a full member of ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) since 2003.
Vstrecha (The Meeting)
p.o. box â„– 298
246050 Gomel
tel.: +375 297 39 08 82

February 20, 2006

Minsk Gay Guide: Gay Life in Belarus–Belarusians Below the Radar

Among the former Soviet states in Eastern Europe, Belarus is the most resistant to social change, restricting gay life to private connections out of the public eye. Homosexual behavior was decriminalized in the early 1990s, but pervasive homophobia has largely squelched the gay rights movement. Neighbors of Belarus like Russia, Poland, and Lithuania enjoy far more advanced, even if fledgling, gay life.

Minsk, the capital of Belarus, provides a tenuous, semi-safe haven for gays through an underground network of private organizations and rotating gay nights at bars and clubs. There are determined seeds of gay life in Belarus, and this brief Minsk gay guide reveals some of the basics. Gay tourists can enjoy the Minsk scene provided that they seek some inside information and remain cautious in a country with a spotty human rights record.

Small groups have attempted to organize gay pride events in Minsk, but these are rarely successful
, with gay attendees either outnumbered by droves of protesters or with the government denying permits in the first place. Gay organizations and gay publications struggle to gain even basic rights from the oppressive government and recognition from the unfriendly media (Belarus is considered to have Europe’s worst freedom of the press). Thanks to persistent activists in Minsk, though, several gay websites and underground newsletters stay afloat.

There is usually one explicitly gay bar or disco open in Minsk, but these businesses face some discrimination and often struggle to stay in business when they openly market to gay clientele. The Belarusian government once shut down a gay club (Oscar), stating that it attracted socially dysfunctional clientele. This is reflective of Belarusian attitudes toward homosexuality: it’s seen as an activity that people sometimes engage in but not as a valid subculture to which one can belong.

Nowadays, news spreads in the Minsk gay community through email and word-of-mouth about which bars and clubs are gay-friendly on which nights. Club owners realize that they can make money by catering to gay patrons, but they cannot afford the stigma of remaining exclusively gay. Often, surreptitiously circulated flyers will allow cheaper admission on quasi-official gay nights.

To find out where the gay nightlife is, it’s best to connect with a gay resident of Minsk who knows the ever-shifting scene well. Many English-speaking Belarusian students make extra money (it’s a poor country!) by serving as Minsk gay guides, taking gay tourists out to the current gay hotspots, introducing them to friends, and giving historical and cultural tours of Minsk. While these companions are easier to find in cities like Moscow, some web correspondence can help identify capable and willing English speakers in Minsk. is one site that has an extensive personals section of gay and “bi” Belarusian men seeking to meet each other as well as gay tourists coming to Minsk. Though the site is in Russian, it can be roughly interpreted into English using a translating engine. A pen pal of mine says that many of the “bi” men on personals websites are really gay-for-pay, heterosexual twentysomethings who are hoping to either take advantage of Western travelers outright or endure prostitution in order to earn much-needed money.

Of course, there are plenty of legitimate gay guys in Belarus who just want to make friends, date, and be helpful to tourists. The best advice is to build up trust through chat and emails. If you want to hire a gay-friendly guide to show you gay Minsk, consider asking him for references to make sure he’s been a gracious host to previous travelers. One benefit of hiring someone in advance is that he can sponsor your Belarus visa, just in case you’re not traveling for business and don’t want to use a regular travel agency to get you the paperwork. There are some truly public meeting spaces for gays in Minsk, notably parks like Czar Alexander Park and saunas (“banyas”).

These places, as you can guess, are generally shadier places to meet gay folks and should not be explored without some vigilance. Although many good-natured young gays hang out with friends at “pleshka” (cruising parks) because it’s a free social setting, prostitutes and criminals frequent these places too, so be very careful. The nudist beach in Minsk is another place for gay congregation, though it is by no means an exclusively gay destination.

Though it may seem like gay life is Belarus is a total bust, it’s not. One benefit is that everything is located in the heart of Minsk’s compact (and quite lovely) city center. Although it takes some time to identify gay resources and build some connections, the gay acquaintances you make in Minsk can be loyal buddies and fun-loving friends.

"From: Svyatoslav (Slava) Sementsov <>
Vstrecha (The Meeting) Gay Organization
Gomel, Belarus

April 2, 2006

Blue revolution in Belarus includes gays

More than 10,000 Belarusian citizens have taken to the streets on March 25 in Minsk to celebrate Freedom Day. Thousands of policemen and riot policemen were hurled against peaceful protesters, all array of special means was used: smoke-grenades, noise-making explosives and teargas. Peacefully protesting people were beaten up until they were bleeding and unconscious, many people were carried away in stretchers by doctors. One person is reportedly killed. Hundreds of people are arrested again. Special detention centers are filled to capacity with political prisoners already, and new prisoners of conscience arrive. The dictatorship has proved again that it rests only on force. Flowers and peaceful slogans were opposed by weapons.

Every day after day of election, before 25 March, Byelorussian government mass-media called this event ”Blue revolution”, they use very homophobic reaction of people against revolutionists. They said that only drug users and people with sexual inversion take part in it, that they want to get our children. On the TV they show that this ”Blue revolution” is supported by EU and if they win, they’ll give the same rights to LGBT people, same sex partnership and adoption of children. They want to stir much homophobic reaction, and they got it. Many people didn’t take part in it, just because they are homophobic. On the streets of Minsk were also many gay and lesbians, many of my personal friends, and they were arrested too. LGBT people just wanted to fight for their future, for there rights.

The celebration of Freedom Day was to start at 12 noon on October Square in Minsk. But the square was cordoned off by police and riot police, and fenced by special railing. However, thousands of people managed to gather in the streets by October Square. Thousands of law-enforcers were sent to the streets: riot policemen, policemen and internal troops. Skaryna Avenue was closed to traffic completely. Part of the people was encircled near Central McDonald’s restaurant. People were jammed and choked, they were impeded by beating.

Riot policemen attempted to provoke a stampede resembling tragedy in Nyamiha metro station in Minsk in 1999 with 53 causalities.
All subway crossings around October Square were blocked by police. People were standing on the both sides of the avenue and could not merge. Despite of that, people were chanting: “Long live Belarus!”, “We want Freedom!”, “Milinkevich!” National flags, flags of the EU, youth resistance movement Zubr and flags with the icon of Our Lady of Minsk were waving.

Force was applied against peaceful demonstrators: they were harshly pushed away from the avenue and clubbed.
An American journalist was cruelly beaten up. A riot policeman delivered several blows with the truncheon on his head. The name of the reporter and his fate are to be cleared up. During the disband sirens were producing huge amount of noise for psychological pressure.

After several futile attempts to come to Skaryna Avenue, columns of people moved along Nyamiha Avenue and Bahdanovich Avenue to Yanka Kupala Park, where leader of the Belarusian opposition Alyaksandr Milinkevich arrived. Columns of people from different parts of the city under national flags marched and chanted in unison: “Freedom!”

About 10,000 protesters gathered in the park of Yanka Kupala. Milinkevich took the floor and demanded the authorities to hold free presidential elections. We need truth, the authorities fear the truth, the politician said. Alyaksandr Milinkevich has announced that the Belarusian National Liberation Movement is created. As he said, the elections have showed that there are more supporters of democratic changes than members of the united democratic forces coalition. “We would like to invite them to join the movement,” the politician said.

Well-known politicians, writers, public figures addressed the meeting in Yanka Kupala Park. The candidate for presidency, former BSU rector Alyaksandr Kazulin, called upon the protesters to go to the special detention center in Akrestsin Street after the meeting, to “demand release of the new heroes of Belarus”. A. Kazulin also urged everybody to forget all our particular wrongs. “Only together, shoulder to shoulder, we shall win, – he said. – We should not leave anybody outside our new movement”.

He confirmed the information on the detention of well-known journalist Pavel Sheremet: “Independent journalists terrify the powers. Today we know the principal criminal – people with epaulets. They deem they can keep the power with bayonets. You can use your weapon against yourselves… The Belarusian nation has no fear anymore,” A.Kazulin said. He added the oppositional candidates for the President’s post had applied to the UN Security Council concerning the situation in Belarus.

The rally participants scanned “Long Live Belarus!”, “Freedom!”, “Milinkevich!”. Expressing their solidarity with the defenders of the tent camp of the Kastrychnitskaya Square, the demonstrators scanned “Glory For Heroes!”. Polish Seim deputy Ma_gorzata Goszewska said all the students expelled because of the peaceful protest manifestation could continue their education in Poland.

After the meeting, the 10-thousand column of demonstrators headed for the special distribution center in Akrestsina Street, scanning “Glory For Heroes!” and “Freedom For Political Prisoners!”. The peaceful demonstration was halted by cordons of the OMON, anti-terrorist commandos and interior troops who blocked the traffic near the Maskouski district administration. The Special Forces officers attacked the peaceful demonstrators, who were walking with flowers and balloons, with brutal ferocity.

Special Forces commander Zmitser Paulichenka, suspected by the world community of murders and kidnapping of oppositional leaders, was the one to give orders to kill the people. All possible means were used against the demonstrators– gas pots, noise shells, tear-gas. The grenades were exploding right above the people’s heads. Bleeding demonstrators were carried away in stretchers. The majority had their heads crushed. Special Forces officers finished what the grenades hadn’t done. They assaulted the people, dragged them by hair and swiped with clubs the people’s heads, backs, legs. The girls were beaten with fists into faces.

The beaten and bleeding people were then loaded to vehicles and driven in unknown direction
. According to the recent data, the people are being transported to Uruchcha district, where the Special Forces base is located.

We shall remind that KGB head Sukharenka mentioned some provocation and explosions prepared for the time of mass actions. Today his words have become clear. The provocations and explosions were organized by the national security themselves. The police could not cope with the peaceful demonstration. The people proved to be stronger.

Svyatoslav Sementsov

From: "Slava Sementsov"

Belarusian LGBT rights defenders speakers tour to the North-West of Germany

27 June 2006

To those who accuse him of protecting "perverts", Viachaslau Bortnik’s response is clear. "I’m protecting human rights, first of all," he says. The leader of Amnesty International Belarus, a human rights organization based in Belarus, visited the North-East of Germany in June as part of speakers’ tour, along with fellow LGBT human rights and HIV/AIDS-prevention activist, Svyatoslav Sementsov. Coordinated by Oldenburgische AIDS-Hilfe e.V. and launched in Oldenburg on 13 June, the tour went to Bremen and finished in Braunschweig on 20 June.

Belarusian activists conducted five presentations, met Mayor of Oldenburg Dietmar Schütz and spoke to 10 000 participants of the parade on Christopher Street Day (17 June) in Oldenburg . "During the speakers’ tour we informed people about discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and critical HIV-situation in Belarus. For many people this was the first time that they heard about the position of sexual minorities in our country," Svyatoslav Sementsov, Board member of Belarusian NGO Vstrecha said.

Although homosexuality is not a criminal offense since 1994, homophobia is widespread and instances of harassment occur in all spheres of Belarusian society. A negative statement about homosexuals by President Lukashenko in September 2004 demonstrated that negative attitudes towards homosexuals existed at the highest levels of government. The government-controlled media tries to smear the opposition by associating it with homosexuality. LGBT organisations in Belarus act as illegal or partly legal groups because of lack of official state registration. Recently a number of gay and lesbian events have been banned by the government. Societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS is a problem. HIV-infected homosexuals are afraid to disclose their status for fear of prejudice.

"In Belarus, currently effective legislation provides no protection to victims in cases of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We will continue to highlight the need to improve the situation there," Bortnik said.


Viachaslau Bortnik, Chair of Amnesty International Belarus, travels worldwide carrying human rights message and agenda to political leaders, international organizations and grassroots communities. He has been actively involved in the struggle for human rights of LGBT people since 1998.

Svyatoslav Sementsov is Board member of Belarusian HIV/AIDS-prevention LGBT NGO Vstrecha; creator of national Internet portal for LGBT people ( ); Co-president of national LGBT NGO TEMA. LGBT human rights activist since 200

Belarusian LGBT rights activists are planning new speakers’ tours in the future.
Public Document
For further information please contact:
Viachaslau Bortnik,
Chair of Amnesty International Belarus,
on +375 29 7317902
Amnesty International Belarus, PO Box 10P, 246050 Gomel, Belarus
Svyatoslav Sementsov
Co-president of national LGBT NGO TEMA
on +375297390882 298, 246023 Gomel, Belarus

Amnesty International

August 16, 2006

Belarusian protest against state homophobia on Solidarity Day in Washington, DC

Washington, DC – Belarusian gay activist Viachaslau BORTNIK joined about twenty people at the protest organized by the civic initiative Poglyad in front of the Belarusian Embassy in Washington, DC. Viachaslau held in his hands self-made poster with a portrait of the last European dictator and writing “Lukashenko–“Queen of Homophobia”.

“Demonstrations have been held in Belarus and throughout Europe and the U.S. on the 16th of every month since last September, the sixth anniversary of the 1999 disappearance and presumed murder of opposition leaders, but they have never featured intimidation of LGBT people before. So I decided to bring this issue to the attention of our diplomats and foreign community,” explained Viachaslau Bortnik.

The Poglyad symbol has become synonymous with the pro-democracy movement and lighting of candles on that date.

“I follow the developments of the situation with expulsion of Latvian ambassador from Belarus on pretext of his sexual orientation. I’ve been in Belarus several times, and it’s absolutely insane what is going on there,” said Henry W. Johnson II, founder and chief coordinator
Poglyad a DC based civic initiative to support democracy in Belarus. “With over nine months of demonstrations having been undertaken here in Washington, we encourage those who can come out and join us once again in reminding the world that we have not given up our desires for freedom in Belarus. Solidarity protests are to be held again on September 16,” the activist said.

"Tanya Ivanova"

9 November 2006

Activists Released 22 hours of Detention by Police

Gomel, Belarus – Gay activists Vyacheslav Andreev, Svyatoslav Sementsov and Viachaslau Bortnik were released after 22 hours of
Detention by the police. Yesterday, at 8:20 pm the special police forces broke into the apartment where the meeting of Organizing Committee of the International LGBT Conference took place and arrested seven people. The Conference materials have been seized. Activists have been brought to the Zheleznodorozhnyi Borrow Police Department and interrogated. Four of the activists have been released yesterday after two hours of detention. Please note that Sviatlana Bortnik hasn’t ever been arrested as it was mentioned in very first argent alert. Please accept our apology for mistake. The correct name of the activist is Sviatlana Siarheichyk.

As activists said, Police officers asked for detailed information on the program of the conference, list of participants, and venue of the
conference. International guests were of the special interest of police. Police check their cell phones and contacts in address book. According to our information, Vyacheslav Andreev and Svyatoslav Sementsov are in Gomel now. Viachaslau Bortnik went to Minsk. They’ll write more about last two days soon. The Organizing Committee decided to postpone the International LGBT Conference in Minsk because of security reasons and threat of personal safety of the participants. Thanks to everybody for prompt reaction. We’ve got tons of e-mails of support from all over the world! We ask you to stop sending appeals regarding this case.

On behalf of Organizing Committee of the International LGBT Conference in Minsk,

Tanya Ivanova
Co-president of TEMA – information center

12 November 2006

LGBT Culture and Human Rights was forced to cancel the event

Minsk -The Organizing Committee of the International Conference on LGBT Culture and Human Rights was forced to cancel the event when its seven members have been detained in Gomel on 8 November 2006. Police broke into the apartment where the meeting of the Organizing Committee took place and arrested those who where there. The Conference materials have been seized and activists were brought to the Zheleznodorozhnyi Borrow Police Department.

"They interrogated us in the night and four of my colleagues have been released after two hours. Together with two other Slavas I spent the whole night behind the bars. It was cold in the police station and I was refused to call my consulate as well as I’m Russian citizen. But we didn’t experience violence or gay-bushing from police officers," Svyatoslav Sementsov said.

Belarusian LGBT activists have been released on 9 November without any criminal charges. The Organizing Committee kindly appreciates dozens of immediate responses received from all over the world just few hours after detention of Belarusian LGBT activists. "Despite the fact that our partner organization withdrew the agreement to provide conference space and many participants including foreign diplomats refused to come we felt international support and solidarity. Warmest thanks to OSCE/ODIHR, Amnesty International, ILGA-Europe, UNDP-Belarus, ILGCN, Tupilak (Sweden), Rainbow Foundation (Russia), Human Rights Watch, InterPride, European Parliament members, Interkulturelles Zentrum, Stonewall, OutRage and many others who sent e-mails and faxes," Sementsov added.

Despite critical circumstances few foreign guests came to Minsk to support Belarusian LGBT activists and to discuss plans for the future. On 11 November a small international delegation brought flowers to the Trostsenets memorial – where more than 215 thousand people have been exterminated by Nazi forces in 1941-1944. "Authorities shouldn’t think that we are given up. Together with our Belarusian brothers and sisters we will continue to organize meetings, conferences and cultural events here and abroad," said Bill Schiller of International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network who managed to come to Minsk with support from Swedish Institute.

Although no criminal charges are filled against released activists the vague wording of the amendments of the Criminal Code adopted on 15 December 2005 (Law N 71-Z) provides wide discretionary powers to the authorities allowing them to label activities of LGBT groups as illegal attempts to discredit or harm the Belarusian state. Criminal persecution could be implied for the coordination of activities by an association or a foundation which has been suspended or liquidated (Article 193). Bearing in mind that none of Belarusian LGBT groups has legal status anyone who organizes such activities may face a fine and six months imprisonment, and in vaguely defined "serious cases" can be subjected to a "restriction of freedom" for up to two years.

We are following the situation and will keep you posted.

Tanya Ivanova
co-president of TEMA – information center