The First historic meeting of Belarusian LGBT leaders
This is the short report on the 1st historic meeting of Belarusian LGBT leaders that took place in Minsk on 10 February and was a great success.
As you may remember the idea of a meeting has been proposed in the beginning of December 2006 by Amnesty International Belarus LGBT Network and has found broad support among the Belarusian activists. Leaders of almost all acting LGBT organizations, projects and initiatives have taken part: HIV/AIDS prevention NGO "Meeting", Amnesty International Belarus LGBT Network, Belarusian Initiative of Young Gays, Lambda Belarus, Volunteers without Borders, and administrator of Belarusian LGBT portals gayby.net, britva.gay.ru. Known Polish gay activist Lukasz Palucki attended too.
Participants of a meeting have begun with presentations of acting LGBT projects and initiatives. Discussion on the situation and problems faced by Belarusian LGBT movement has followed. Lukasz Palucki, the representative of Equality Foundation invited by Amnesty International Belarus has told participants about achievements and problems of Polish LGBT movement.
Being at least 10 years older than ours, the Polish movement till now faces problems well familiar to us – from excessive ambition of leaders to rigid competition for financial resources. Recent example is a dispute around a project of monument to commemorate gay victims of Nazi’s concentration camps. And, nevertheless, Poles can brag of a high degree of unity when it is going on serious things. Such as the last year’s Warsaw Equality parade which made stunning success and have involved in the numbers 15 000 person.
Yes, there is a lot to learn from our nearest neighbours!
Further we talked about opportunities of joint projects, an information exchange (magazines, bulletins, web-sites, blogs, networks, yahoo groups, a web-community, etc.), creation of positive image Belarusian LGBT movement inside the country and at the international level, cooperation with governmental structures, promotion of LGBT culture and many other things.
Despite obvious differences, both the registered organizations and informal initiatives have developed a lot of variants of possible cooperation: from advisory support to mutually advantageous use of resources of each other (information, administrative, organizational, financial, etc.). Participants of a meeting have noted that it is possible to do many things without official registration. The representative of the Belarusian Initiative of Young Gays has shared successful experience of work with strictly homophobic organizations like Belarusian Popular Front and Belarusian Nationwide Union of Youth. The young man also managed to publish a number of articles on LGBT problems in pro-government media.
Great attention has been given to information exchange – during the last year the new LGBT resources appeared. We decided not be isolated in own narrow-design purposes, and to cooperate intensively, searching for innovative approaches to wider audiences. Perhaps, one of the major achievements of a meeting was the agreement on maintenance of positive image of Belarusian LGBT movement inside the country and abroad and on collective responsibility for actions in this connection. In particular, we talked about unacceptability of use of "black" PR technologies against each other.
It is necessary to note the intention of participants in the near future to develop strategic approaches with a view of cooperation with state structures, business and civil society sector. Work is supposed to be conducted by means of an exchange of ideas by e-mail. As a variant, it was offered to create yahoo group. Without exaggeration the meeting can be named a historic step in development of LGBT movement in Belarus. It would be desirable to hope, that the first step will be followed by the second. At least, it is already known, that the next meeting of leaders of Belarusian LGBT movement is planned for April.
TEMA – information center
February 2007 – The following is an excerpt from an article by Viachaslau Bortnik click here to download the entire article
Hate Crimes Against Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People in Belarus
by Viachaslau Bortnik
(From: Kuhar, Roman and Judit Takács, eds. 2006. Beyond the Pink Curtain: Everyday Life of LGBT people in Eastern Europe. Ljubljana: Peace Institute – Politike Symposion, in print.)
Findings presented in this article leave no doubt that hate crimes, violence and harassment are particularly important issues for LGB people in Belarus. Homophobia and prejudice in society force LGB people to conceal their identity in everyday life to avoid unfavourable treatment.
The primary goal of this article is to draw attention to cases of hate crime, violence and harassment experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in Belarus, where no original publications with any scientific value on this topic are available yet. Issues related to Belarusian LGB people tend to be dealt with in reviews on LGB issues in general (Bortnik 2003; Solberg 2004; Takács 2006).
It is not the purpose of this paper to provide a scientific background to the extent, patterns, causes and consequences of hate crimes motivated by homophobia. The information presented in the article was collected from reports of the Belarusian Lambda League for Sexual Equality (Lambda Belarus) as well as from the results of two focus group interviews conducted with LGB people in two cities. The aim of the focus group interviews was to highlight the main features of the problem and to work out recommendations to improve the situation by generating discussions about homophobic hate crime with its victims.
Overview of the situation of LGB people in Belarus
Although homosexuality has not been a criminal offence in Belarus since 1994, homophobia is widespread and instances of harassment occur in all spheres of society (US Department of State 2006). Homophobic attitudes and prejudices are very strong. According to the results of a small scale (N=287) survey conducted by Lambda Belarus in April 2002, 47% of Belarusian respondents think that gays should be imprisoned (Solberg 2004, 46). A negative statement about homosexuals by President Lukashenka in September 2004 also demonstrated that homophobic attitudes exist at the highest levels of government (US Department of State 2005).
According to Komsomolskaya Pravda v Byelorussii, 6 April 2005, Belarusian MP Viktar Kuchynski proposed to re-criminalize homosexuality. “My position as a deputy is: all these ‘queers’ and others are to be punished to the maximum”, said Kuchynski at the parliamentary session during the discussion concerning the presidential decree “On some measures of the prevention of human trafficking” on 4 April 2005. According to Kuchynski, the Criminal Code is to be amended, and the penalty for homosexuality ought to be re-introduced. However, this proposal was not supported by the parliament. Interior Minister of Belarus, Uladzimir Navumau gave the comment to the Russian News Agency Interfax: “Mutual consent is usually present [in homosexuals relations], and we would not like to encroach upon this sphere too deeply”.
According to Lambda Belarus reports, in April 1999 Russian Orthodox Church officials have publicly called for the execution of gays. In May 2003 in Minsk the European Humanities University banned the screening of the documentary film Outlawed on discrimination of gays and lesbians in different parts of the world, which had been planned as part of the Amnesty Film Festival, organised by Amnesty International Belarus at the university. According to the university staff, the ban was made under pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church.
The government-controlled media tries to smear the political opposition by associating it with homosexuality. The media broadcast footage of a fake demonstration by a small group of “sexual minorities” at the opposition congress of 2 October 2004 along with comments of bystanders that “gays are evil”. Program announcers added commentary to the effect that homosexuality goes hand-in-hand with Western paths to development (US Department of State 2006).
Three foreign diplomats were expelled from the country on the pretext of their sexual orientation in the period between October 2004 and August 2006. According to the reports of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, t he first case was the expulsion of the Second Secretary of the German Embassy on the false pretext of drug use in October 2004, while his Ukrainian boyfriend was arrested. The story was commented on at length on government-controlled national TV with a lot of homophobic rhetoric. According to Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, 25 January 2005, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 21 January expelled the Czech diplomat Pavel Krivohlavy, accusing him of depraving minors and inciting them to “antisocial behaviour”. “
To put it plainly, Czech diplomat Pavel Krivohlavy made juvenile boys drunk in order to subsequently try to drag them into bed”, Belarusian TV alleged. The network’s main news program Panarama on 21 January 2005 broadcast secretly recorded footage showing Krivohlavy purportedly drinking alcohol and kissing young men in what appeared to be a cafe or a restaurant. “You’ll certainly agree that our neighbours’ understanding of democracy is peculiar: intoxication of youths, debauchery, and pornography. Do they have the moral right – they who are spreading the worst, vile predilections in our country – to teach us how to live?”, Belarusian TV commented in Panarama. In July 2006 Minsk police accused Reimo Smits, a former Latvian diplomat in Belarus, of distributing pornography. Scenes of a homosexual act involving the diplomat were also broadcast on TV.
Most Belarusian LGB organizations have never been registered by the state and operate illegally. In April 1999 the Ministry of Justice blocked efforts by the Lambda Belarus, the country’s first and only lesbian and gay rights organization at that time, to gain official registration as an NGO. The Ministry cited technical reasons, although Lambda Belarus members claimed the authorities were seeking to deny registration of a gay and lesbian organization (US Department of State 2000). Members of LGB groups have been targeted as hate crime victims many times. For instance, on 13 November 2001, Edward Tarletski, the leader of Lambda Belarus was physically assaulted in Molodechno, which resulted in brain concussion diagnosed in the hospital where he was rushed into and spent 7 days. The police refused to take action in connection with the assault for the reason that as they explained it was “impossible to find the perpetrators” (Solberg 2004, 47).
Belarusian LGB groups also do not receive civil society support. In July 2001 the Organising Committee of the 1 st Belarusian Youth Congress voted against the participation of Lambda Belarus delegates. In March 2002 several Belarusian media outlets published a press release of Youth Front, one of the biggest youth groups in the country, which contained homophobic statements and humiliating notes about gays. Pavel Severinetz, the leader of the Youth Front, called homosexuality a “sin and perversion deserving death”. According to Severinetz, the existence of homosexuals is “the result of decay and sinfulness in the world”.
In March 2002, the State Press Committee annulled the registration of the only Belarusian publication for sexual minorities, Forum Lambda (Human Rights Watch 2002). The vague wording of the recent 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 LGB groups as illegal attempts to discredit or harm the Belarusian state. Criminal persecution has been introduced for the coordination of activities by an association or a foundation, which has been suspended or liquidated (Article 193-1).
Bearing in mind that none of Belarusian LGB groups have any legal status anyone who organizes such activities may face a fine and six months imprisonment, and in vaguely defined “serious cases” they can be subjected to a “restriction of freedom” for up to two years. A new regulation makes “education or other forms of preparation” for mass demonstrations, or financing such actions illegal, and punishable by imprisonment for up to six months, or a “restriction of freedom” for up to three years (Article 293-1). Training or preparation of people for participation in group activities which “grossly violate public order,” as well as the financing or material support of such activity, can also lead to a jail term of up to two years (Article 342). Article 369-1 on “discrediting the Republic of Belarus” punishes those who provide “false information” to a foreign government or organization, which is interpreted to misrepresent the political, economic, social, military or international situation of Belarus, its government agencies or the legal situation of its citizens.
Such actions are punishable by six months in jail, or a “restriction of freedom” for up to two years. Starting from 1999 all LGBT events have been banned by the government and attacked by the police. According to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military of the University of California, Santa Barbara Belarus is among those countries that ban gays from serving in the military. Amnesty International Belarus has documented at least seven cases of gay men from Gomel who did not serve in the army because of their sexual orientation. No cases of harassment of gays in the army have been reported, but this may be the result of gay individuals hiding their sexuality. The currently effective legislation provides no protection to victims in cases of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (Bortnik 2003).
This is the paragraph in the newest Human Rights Report of the US Department of State that came out on 6 March 2007.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor March 6, 2007
Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Homosexuality is not illegal; however societal discrimination against homosexuals was a problem. Homophobia was widespread, and instances of harassment occurred in all spheres of society. According to the local TEMA gay rights group, government-controlled media tried to decrease participation in the protests following the March presidential election by saying they were part of a "gay revolution." In 2005 state media attempted to discredit the opposition by associating it with homosexuality. On July 31, state media BT broadcast on national television a police expose of a Latvian diplomat assigned to the country whom authorities accused of distributing pornography (see section 1.f.). The program targeted the diplomat because of his sexual orientation and included several minutes of hidden-camera footage of the diplomat watching pornography and engaging in homosexual activities. The police dropped the investigation in October.
On November 8, police raided an apartment where TEMA members gathered to organize an international Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Conference scheduled for November 10. Police seized conference materials and detained members for questioning at a police station. Four TEMA activists were released; three remained in detention over night. TEMA leaders subsequently canceled the conference.
Societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS remained a problem despite greater awareness of the disease and increasing tolerance towards people infected with HIV/AIDS. For example, maternity wards no longer separate HIV/AIDS-infected mothers from those not infected. However, the UNAIDS office reported that attitudes towards HIV/AIDS patients remained complicated, and there were still numerous reports of HIV-infected individuals who faced discrimination or were afraid to disclose their illness.
TEMA – information center
2007 Information Center TEMA and MyGomel.com organize a vote about reaction of Gomel region youth to sexual minorities.
Results of voting:
39.67% believe that sexual and gender minorities are seek, and they need any kind of treatment 11.06% want to criminalize homosexual relations 29.23% tolerated 6.26% identify them self as sexual and gender minority 13.78% accept sexual and gender minorities Total numbers voters – 500.
You can reach comments of voters on
As you see, most of respondents have negative feelings 52.28% to sexual and gender minorities. This fact clear show feelings of youth in Belarus, as a result of state homophobic policy and propaganda. Some times a year, Belarusian state media show scandals with "gays-perverts" witch "corrupt our youth". Everybody remember slogan, promoted by National Television during president election 2006 campaign "To the Europe, by the ass!" TV scared society, that all people on the "west" are sexual perverts. And if opposition, pro-European, candidate will win, he’ll legalize same-sex marriage, change "??????? ????????" and "our children will be forced on the street".
6 April 2005, Belarusian MP Viktar Kuchynski proposed to re-criminalize homosexuality. "My position as a deputy is: all these ‘queers’ and others are to be punished to the maximum", said Kuchynski at the parliamentary session during the discussion concerning the presidential decree "On some measures of the prevention of human trafficking" on 4 April 2005. According to Kuchynski, the Criminal Code is to be amended, and the penalty for homosexuality ought to be re-introduced. However, this proposal was not supported by the parliament. Interior Minister of Belarus, Uladzimir Navumau gave the comment to the Russian News Agency Interfax: "Mutual consent is usually present [in homosexuals relations], and we would not like to encroach upon this sphere too deeply".
This propaganda together without sexual education in schools, universities or family makes growing up homophobia in our country. But we are really happy because, in general, Belarusian youth more tolerated then adult people, and from one year to other, this percent, of tolerated youth, only growing up. Youth are our future, that’s why it is so important to work with youth for better future.
Information Center TEMA will monitor of dynamic in future as well. We want to organize a big research of Belarusian society and as a result – create methods to fight against homophobia especially for Belarusian situation. MyGomel.com – the biggest and the most popular (more then 2000 visitors per day) youth web-portal in Gomel region. It is old partner of TEMA, became a field for discussion of Gomel youth on gender issue. Information Center TEMA – Belarusian LGBT center based in Gomel, providing information on gender issue.
TEMA – information center
14 March 2007 – From: firstname.lastname@example.org
Voting of Belarusian youth on LGBT issue
During beginning of 2007 Information Center TEMA and MyGomel.com organize a survey of Gomel region youth to sexual minorities.
Results of voting: 39.67% believe that sexual and gender minorities are seek, and they need any kind of treatment 11.06% want to criminalize homosexual relations 29.23% tolerated 6.26% identify them self as sexual and gender minority 13.78% accept sexual and gender minorities. Total numbers voters – 500.
You can reach comments of voters on http://mygomel.com/modules.php?name=Surveys&op=results&pollID=34&mode=&order=0&thold=0
As you see, most of respondents have negative feelings 52.28% to sexual and gender minorities. This fact clear show feelings of youth in Belarus, as a result of state homophobic policy and propaganda.
Sometimes a year, Belarusian state media show scandals with "gays-perverts" witch "corrupt our youth".
Everybody remember slogan, promoted by National Television during president election 2006 campaign "To the Europe, by the ass!" TV scared society, that all people on the "west" are sexual perverts.
And if opposition, pro-European, candidate will win, he’ll legalize same-sex marriage, change "*ÏÚÒÁÓÔ ÓÏÇÌÁÓÉÑ" and "our children will be forced on the street".
March 27, 2007 – United Nations Human Rights Council
Appeal concerning the detention of seven activists
On the 23 November 2006, the Special Representative, sent an urgent appeal concerning the detention of seven activists including Mr Vyacheslav Andreev, Ms Sviatlana Siarheichyk, Mr Svyatoslav Sementsov, Ms Tanya Ivanova, Mr Aleksei Filipenko, Ms Natallia Kavalchuk and Mr Viachaslau Bortnik who promote the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons in Belarus and are current members of the Organising Committee of the International LGBT Conference which was due to be held in Minsk.
According to the information received, on 8 November 2006, at approximately 8:20pm, the seven aforementioned persons were arrested and detained when the apartment in which they were holding a meeting, was broken into by the police. It is alleged that the police confiscated materials relating to the conference and brought the activists to the Zheleznodorozhnyi Borrow Police Department where they were questioned in relation to the schedule of the conference, the list of participants and the venue of the conference.
Four of the activists were released after two hours but Vyacheslav Andreev, Svyatoslav Sementsov and Viachaslau Bortnik were detained until 5:30pm the following day. All were released without charge.
However, the International LGBT Conference was cancelled by the organizers after their arrest. Concern was expressed that the events described above may represent attempts by the Belarusian authorities to prevent the activists from carrying out their legitimate activities, in particular raising attention to the situation of LGBT persons in Belarus .
Furthermore there were concerns regarding reported amendments to the Criminal Code adopted on 15 December 2005 which may be used to detain members of LGBT groups, or discredit their legitimate activities…"
" … 71. The Special Representative reiterates her concerns that the charges imposed upon these human rights defenders were due to the organization’s activities to monitor the election in Belarus . She is also concerned that such amendments to the Criminal Code may be used to detain members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) groups, or discredit their legitimate activities and encourages the Government to reply to her communication of 23 November 2006…"
You can reach full text on http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/4session/A-HRC-4-37-Add-1.pdf
TEMA – information center
6 April 2007 – From: email@example.com
Belarusian MP Viktar Kuchynski proposed to re-criminalize homosexuality
"My position as a deputy is: all these ‘queers’ and others are to be punished to the maximum", said Kuchynski at the parliamentary session during the discussion concerning the presidential decree "On some measures of the prevention of human trafficking" on 4 April 2005.
According to Kuchynski, the Criminal Code is to be amended, and the penalty for homosexuality ought to be re-introduced. However, this proposal was not supported by the parliament.
Interior Minister of Belarus, Uladzimir Navumau gave the comment to the Russian News Agency Interfax: "Mutual consent is usually present [in homosexuals relations], and we would not like to encroach upon this sphere too deeply". This propaganda together without sexual education in schools, universities or family makes growing up homophobia in our country. But we are really happy because, in general, Belarusian youth more tolerated then adult people, and from one year to other, this percent, of tolerated youth, only growing up.
Youth are our future, that’s why it is so important to work with youth for better future.
Information Center TEMA will monitor of dynamic in future as well. We want to organize a big research of Belarusian society and as a result – create methods to fight against homophobia especially for Belarusian situation. MyGomel.com – the biggest and the most popular (more then 2000 visitors per day) youth web-portal in Gomel region.
It is old partner of TEMA, became a field for discussion of Gomel youth on gender issue.
Information Center TEMA – Belarusian LGBT center based in Gomel
Glazes of prosperity and only a glimpse of suppression
by IGLYO board
“Only in Belarus will you feel as if the Cold War never ended. Although getting a visa isn’t a problem, the government isn’t crazy about foreign influences and encourages xenophobia with all-pervasive propaganda,” writes Lonely Planet about the country. I could have better left the book at home. Reading it in the airplane in order to truly appear as a tourist – and not an IGLYO board member – the last sentence didn’t ease me: “Hide this book.” Information is extremely controlled in Belarus; each publication has to be tested by the Ministry of Information. And custom officers do not hesitate to take away your Lonely Planet if they want to.
This weekend IGLYO board met in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, for its quarterly board meeting. Our mission was to touch base with the live of young LGBT activists in Belarus, the last dictatorship in Europe. One of the very few countries in the region which is not a member of the Council of Europe as it still practices death punishment. Not many organizations choose to gather in this country, but choose to support civil society in Belarus in another way. Understandable, since several youth workers and political representatives have been rejected entrance to the country in the past years.
Our fears were needless. All of us were granted visas without any problems. Passing the boarders happened probably smoother than in any other country I have visited. Suddenly we found ourselves in Minsk. As agreed there was Svyatoslav Sementsov, from our member organization TEMA in Gomel waiting for us. Slava proved to be the perfect host throughout the rest of the weekend, sharing with us the invisible aspects of the country. We were prepared for grey streets, gloomy post-Sovjet squares, cheerless people, little welfare end a regime being somehow visible at every corner of every street.
But the Minsk we saw had nothing of that at all. The contrast seemed big. Prosperity, welfare, happy looking people walking on wide avenues surrounded by stylish classical buildings. The ruling suppression not being visible at all. Solely stories of people would tell you the truth behind the big mask covering this country.
We did not expect to see any public LGBT life. But again it wasn’t what we expected. Contrary. Whereas Lonely Planet writes about a public governmental repression of LGBT people, Belarusian activists talk about their country as being one of the most tolerant in post-Sovjet space and a slow but nevertheless sensible change in regards to LGBT acceptance and visibility. There is no active repression of LGBT groups, the government even has opened dialogue with community representatives in the framework of an HIV/AIDS project.
At the same time: gay prides were organized in Minsk in 2000 and 2001, without any significant problems. And indeed, Minsk knows a gay-club and some LGBT meeting spaces. Well, LGBT is not the accurate expression, since the LGBT community consists mostly of G and less L.
In regards to women issues one can exemplify the conjuncture of homophobia and patriarchy in the fact that there is no lesbian bar at all in this country and women have to pay a higher entrance fee if they want to enter the gay club. This leads to the representation of all in all three women at the Friday nights gay party in Minsk. But we have to admit that there were quite some butchies to see e.g. at a local internet café. The transgender community has been fairly invisible during our stay.
Activists described their lives as rather positive compared to other Asian countries. Most of the people we talked to were out in their friends’ circles. Some of them even were out at work. Generally they managed to live their lives in the way that they wanted. Sexuality isn’t the main topic, but if discussed it’s not seen as a main issue due to younger generations getting increasingly tolerant. The intolerance is experienced in particular coming from older generations. Activists identify themselves as ‘out of the closet,’ but when asking whether their families know about their sexual orientation, a fast “No, of course not!” is answered. Aleksey, a representative of the Young Social Democrats party informed us how his party wants to work on LGBT issues and other equality issues. Their work is difficult: the one-party government does not accept Political Youth groups to work with minor-aged youngsters. As Aleksey’s party is still doing this, the government has threatened to withdraw the organization’s registration.
Sasha works voluntarily on the website www.gay.by, a website where mostly gay men issues are discussed. The site doesn’t have a dating function, as online dating sites are forbidden by law. But it offers information for community members and has been functioning without problems for years–contrary to the Russian website www.gay.ru, which is not accessible in Belarus.
Accommodated in a hotel opposite of one of the president’s palaces we had the experience of catching three glimpses of Lukashenko. Likewise in other post-Sovjet countries entire boulevards are blocked for the countries highest representative to pass by, don’t even think of making a photo of the president in his car. The third time Lukashenko frightened us. Whilst meeting in a hotel room a soldier suddenly bounced on our door and ordered to close the window watching over the big boulevard he was going to pass. Not understanding the reason we did not know what this man came to do in our hotel room… soon we learned that no windows can be open if the President is crossing the street with his convoy.
On the question how activists can be supported, the answer is that this is mostly from abroad. Cooperation with organizations and initiatives located in the post-Sovjet space seems very relevant. The region shares the same social and cultural history. Also knowledge from ‘the West’ is relevant. Under the strict governing regime no money can be transferred to NGO’s, hence a large part of the current activities is supported by activists themselves.
Somehow it is still difficult to understand the contrast between the prosperity at first sight and the actual repression. So we do what we can do… and share our experiences with you.
September 6, 2007 – From:Tanya Ivanova
Co-president TEMA – Information Center
The apartment of famous Belarusian LGBT activist Viachaslau Bortnik plundered
Unknown persons have stolen the TV, DVD- and VHS-players, collection of rare musical CDs, and at the same time have taken notebooks, photos, documents, disks with stored information.
An unpleasant surprise was waiting for Belarusian LGBT activist Viachaslau Bortnik upon his return from a business trip. His sister who was taking care about an apartment has informed that theft has occurred on the night of August, 28th. " I have learned about the robbery just on September, 6th. Sister simply did not want me to be upset in the foreign trip ", – Viachaslau said.
Next day after a robbery the criminal case was opened by the local police department though the victim doesn’t have any hope for a positive outcome. It seems like law enforcement are not interested in capture of criminals. " I called the police and they collected fingerprints from everywhere you can possibly imagine. They also photographed everything in the apartment. Would be from it though any sense ."
Sviatlana Bortnik shared her concerns with us: " A number of circumstances points that theft could be simulated to steal my briefs, photos, the information. For some reason unknown guests have not taken other valuable things, and have not found some money that was available in the apartment. I haev been detained repeatedly, in the past, by law enforcement because of my human rights activism, once together with my colleagues in my apartment. Here now the next surprise."
Almost two weeks after a robbery the victim has tried to learn from the local plice department about the course of their investigation. At the checkpoint counter he was told, that " after the city annual festival, it is not known, who and when works in a department ". As it was found out further, the case was transferred from one investigator to another, and " in general, if something became known, you would already informed. In any case, the criminal suspect is not identified ".
And at the same time the police have his face picture and video recording. "I do not believe in a triumph of Belarusian justice system in my case, but I’ll do my best to make valorous police to move their asses ", Viachaslau Bortnik has declared.
February 27, 2008 – ukgaynews.org.uk
Plight of Gays in Belarus, Iraq and Uganda to be Highlighted at IDAHO 2008 Launch
Government ministers will attend London College of Fashion launch
Minister for Skills David Lammy MP will be addressing the UK IDAHO launch.
London – Government ministers, mayoral candidates, students and academics, national and international LGBT campaigners, a lesbian singer/songwriter, who according to one reviewer performs like “Mary Poppins on acid” are all gearing up for the IDAHO-UK 2008 launch event at the London College of Fashion, which will take place, on the evening of March 13. Students on the Design for Graphic Communication course at the University of Arts, London have designed double sided broadsheet posters to encourage UK campaigners to arrange events for the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, and the winning posters will be displayed at the event.
Derek Lennard, IDAHO-UK Coordinator, who has chosen the four winning posters, says that they are “very exciting and innovative”.
Appropriately enough, David Lammy, Minister for Skills, and MP for Tottenham, will be handing out the prizes to the students and making a speech at the event. He will be joined by Minister for Equality, Barbara Follett, and Linda Bellos, former leader of Lambeth Council, who works on mainstreaming equality and diversity in the British Army and Metropolitan Police. London Mayoral candidates are also well represented at the event. Neil Young will be reading a message of support for the IDAHO campaign and the event from Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London.
Richard Barnes the Conservative Leader on the London Assembly, Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor, and Sian Berry, the Green candidate will also be speaking. Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of IDAHO will explain the priorities of the 2008 campaign, Pastor Kiyimba Brown will describe how he set up an IDAHO Chapter in Uganda, Ali Hilli founder of Iraqi LGBT will highlight the gravity of the situation for LGBT activists in Iraq, and Bill Schiller of the International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network will graphically describe the plight of the LGBT community in Belarus.
Amnesty International will also be represented. Niranjan Kamatlkar, Artistic Director of Wise Thoughts will look at creative ways to address homophobia and transphobia in the UK, and a representative from the East London Out Project will talk on the theme of the IDAHO campaign this year “Lesbian Rights and Sexism”. Finally, Sue Sanders will display the work undertaken by students for Schools Out and LGBT History Month.
There will also be plenty of time for relaxing, mingling and networking in the luxurious setting of the Rootstein Hopkins Space, and a chance to see the student’s work, enjoy the canapés and wine, and undergo the Lorraine Bowen experience. It is hoped that Ms Bowen will perform a song from her new CD, “Vital Organs”.
“We hope this event will be inspiring, thought provoking and enjoyable and inspire campaigners to plan events for IDAHO,” said Mr. Lennard.
First Time in History of Belarus, Gay Flag in Political March
More than a thousand people took part in the opposition’s march stagedon the occasion of the 22nd Chernobyl accident anniversary in Minsk onApril 26. It was a first time in a history, when rainbow flag used onpolitical public event in Belarus.The crowd started gathering at the square in front of the NationalAcademy of Sciences at 2 p.m. and a short rally followed. Leaders ofopposition had did speeches.Sergey Androsenko, 19y.o. gay – leader of Gay Youth Association, staywith big rainbow flag in the center of crowd. Anarchists promise toprotect gays on this event if somebody will try attack them.The crowd then walked some two miles on sidewalks from the square to achurch built to commemorate Chernobyl victims at the intersectionbetween
Arlowskaya and Karastayanavay Streets.As the demonstrators were crossing Yakub Kolas Street, some 100 youthsseparated from the crowd and entered the roadway but some of theorganizers intervened and managed to talk them into returning to thesidewalks.After reaching the church, the crowd observed a minute of silence forthose who died of illnesses caused by the Chernobyl fallout and laidflowers at a monument commemorating the victims. The demonstratorsstarted dispersing shortly afterward.Police did not interfere and no arrests were reported.This case definitely will become a part of Belarusian LGBT history asa date of beginning of cooperation between civil society and LGBTmovement, and the date of proud when LGBT activists didn’t afraid tobecome visible.
First time in Moldovan history LGBT community will have public presentation
On Sunday 11 May 2008 at the VII LGBT Pride in Moldova "Rainbow over the Dniester” the LGBT community will have a public presentaton on the cental squre of Chisinau. The aim of the action is to support adoption of anti-discrimination law in Moldova.
Festival “Rainbow over the Dniester” will take place form 8 till 11 May. The slogan of the pride is "All different – all equal”. Within the Pride the celebration of 10th Anniversary of activities of Information Centre “GenderDoc-M” will take place. Pride includes different cultural and entertainment events aimed to provide the society with information about sexual diversity and to increase the visibility of the LGBT community and tolerance of the society towards the LGBT community.
The program includes:
-Laying flowers to the victims of repressions.
-Official reception to celebrate 10th anniversary of Information Centre “GenderDoc-M”.
-Official opening and closing ceremonies of the festival. These events include traditional for our festival symbolic marriage ceremony, international contest «Miss Flawless Queen-2008», and concerts with participation of Moldovan pop stars.
-The rainbow mess with participation of priests Diane Fisher from Canada and Florin Buhuceanu from Romania will take place in the hotel “Flowers”.
-On 9 May will take place “Day against homophobia and xenophobia”. This day in the club Star Track for the first time will be shown the documentary ‘Silentio’ about LGBT discrimination in Moldova, and ‘Here’s looking at you, boy!’ telling how gay movies started.
Later in Chekhov Theatre performance ‘Too married taxi driver’.
-International conference ’10 Years of Struggle: experience, lessons learned and future perspectives for LGBT Movement in CIS countries’ will summarize achieved results of GenderDoc-M activities during the first 10 years of work. The discussion on consolidation of LGBT movement in CIS countries will take place within the conference.
-One of the important events will be Safer Sexual Behavior Promotion Party, as sexual education is one of the priorities of the work of our organization.
-And the culmination of the Pride activities will be public manifestation on the central square of the city on Sunday, 11 May. We do hope that this year LGBT community can use its right for freedom of assembly.
Prides in Moldova are cultural festivals of LGBT community, which get together big number of people not only form the LGBT community but also people who support LGBT movement (parents, friends etc) from Moldova and abroad. This year we have guests from Sweden, Canada, Russia, Romania, Belgium, Israel, Ukraine, Belorussia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Pride organizer: Information Centre “GenderDoc-M”.
Our supporters: Swedish Helsinki Committee, Swedish Agency on international development (SIDA), Lesbian and gay association COC Netherlands, and ILGA-Europe.
For additional information you can contact Boris Balanetkii on the phone: 544420, 276094 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 24, 2008 – From: Svyatoslav Sementsov
TEMA – information center
Month of Violence for Gays in Belarus
Vitaly (25) was drinking beer with his friends in the city park in Minsk on 16 May 2008. “Then a guy walked by and decided that I was gay. He came up and punched me so hard that he knocked out a tooth. Others were shocked, but they didn’t react, because they just thought that the attacker had drunk too much. I did not report the incident to the police, because it is my experience that the police in particular have a nasty and humiliating attitude towards gays”, – Vitaly said.
On 21 May 2008, in Minsk Edward Tarletski, famous Belarusian gay and member of the Board of Lambda Belarus has been badly beaten. It has occurred nearby 11 pm when Edward was on the way back home. According to Tarletski, he was attacked by three young persons in the age of 20-25 years at an entrance of his home. "I was approaching to an entrance, when I saw young people smoking nearby. One of them called me by a surname. To make it clear that it was me, I think. Another one has unexpectedly struck me to face, and I have fallen. They struck many times with legs, and mostly in the head. Then they escaped. I have lost consciousness. The neigbour has helped me to reach an apartment. The villains have taken nothing: in my bag I have money and camera ", – Edward said.
He said that he had no intention to report the incident to police. "This would be a waste of time," he said, adding that this was the third assault on him in the last five years.
Edward Tarletski is a founder of Lambda Belarus , the first gay-organization in Belarus . In 1998-2002 he edited and published LGBT magazine ‘Forum Lambda’. He was the organizer of Belarus Gay Pride festivals in 1999-2002. Now E. Tarletski is within editorial of ‘Taboo’ magazine. Edward is also known as travesty performer.
On night of 13 June 2008, two young gay guys were beaten by four skinheads after gay party in Minsk . Skinheads did a lot of homophobic speeches during beating of gays. " I didn’t call to police because I’m not sure that they would take my side when find that I’m gay" – said one of the victims. One of the guys had to seek medical help.
On 22 June 2008, gay male Slava (24) was within the last visitors in the bar with his friend in Gomel . “The owner of the bar together with his son decided to beat us up. They locked the door and we couldn’t escape. They badly beat my friend … and I kicked the door in. The police showed up, but they behaved as though I was the guilty one. We were taken to the police station together with our attackers. The police let the attackers go, with out even finding out who they were. The attitude toward us was very humiliating. It was as if we were the criminals, not the victims”, – Slava said.
23 June 2008, two old (<50) gay guys were beaten by ten guys on the gay beach in Gomel . One of the victims has a smashed lip.
It is the most fear month for gays for last 10 years in Belarus.
TEMA – information center
29 August 2008 – www.pride.by
Socialization of LGBT community in Gomel, Belarus
From August 2008, activists of TEMA start to volunteer for Mother Teresa Missionary of Charity in Gomel (78 Sovetskaya st.). Two times a month gays and lesbians will help for free on cooking and distributing meal for poor, home less and disables people.
Mother Teresa Missionary of Charity in Gomel is only one place in Gomel witch provide 150 sleeping places, hot meal and medicaments free of charge, for poor, home less and disables people.
27 August 2008, Svyatoslav Sementsov – leader of TEMA got Symbol of “Honorary Blood Donor of Belarus”. According to Belarusian law, each person witch donate more than 13,740 liter during life, receive this Symbol and social preferences from government. Svyatoslav Sementsov starts donate blood from 2001, during student time and doing it one time in two months.
Now time 7 activists of TEMA donate there blood for Gomel Regional Clinical Hospital (5 Brat’ev Lizucovih st., www.gomelreghosp.com) one time in two months. It means that gays and lesbians of Gomel donate almost 20 liters a year for people who really need it.
From: email to GlobalGayz
The overall aim of the project was to ensure democracy and rule of law, promote human rights, social security and health among LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) communities. The more specific aim was to create a network among Nordic, Baltic and Russian/Belarusian LGBT NGOs and through sharing of best practices and future cooperation strengthen the capacity of LGBT organisations in the region.
As a result of the project:
9 LGBT organisations from the Nordic, Baltic and Russian/Belarusian region have strengthened their network and extended it with 35-40 more NGOs working on related issues by the end of the project.
35-40 NGOs have shared best practices and experiences and set up structures for continuing this.
18-25 organisations have innovated their service delivery, advocacy work and management of the organisations.
18-25 organisations have developed a "common path" – a strategy for setting up new initiatives for joint projects in the region.
Please find details of Belarus benchmarking research in the report http://www.pride.by/en/bortnik_presentation.pdf
TEMA – information center
6 October 2008 – pride.by
Two transsexual guys had been raped in Minsk
Two transsexual guys had been raped in Minsk at the mid of September. Two guy rented an apartment in one of the sleeping districts of the capital. Incidentally, the owner of the apartment was aware of the orientation and way of life guys. The owner decided to evict them by original method – the method of violence.
«Four guys, looks very aggressive, broke into the apartment. The owner was near of the door. We have slept under blanket, they took it off and started to ride. Other starts to laugh and threaten, and after one open fly of his pants and ordered to «suck», or otherwise promised to dislodge teeth. The same was done with my friend.»- shared one of the victims with portal Gayby.org.
After that, they raped transsexual guys. When rapists were satisfied, they threw two victims out to staircase site and began to throw their clothes. Neighbors who came to the noise, just laughed on what happened, and call victims «perverts» and «fagots». Boys didn’t report to the police because they were not sure that officials will help them…
November 6, 2008 – PinkNews
Belarusian authorities ban gay rights protest in Minsk
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Officials in Belarus have refused permission for a protest outside the Russian embassy in the capital Minsk. Organisers of the gay picket applied to the city council for permission on October 9th. The Byelorussian Initiative Group for gender and sexual equality wanted to protest against the "growing number" of hate crimes in the neighbouring country of Russia. However, they have now been told by Mikhail Titenkov, a deputy chairman of the Minsk City Council, that "the City Council will not allow a picket in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk because the application had not been done within the frameworks of the National Law on mass events."
The gay protesters said they wanted to draw attention to "a growing number of cases of violation of the rights of LGBT people in the neighbouring country, groundless police raids on gay clubs, mass detention and insults to gays and lesbians and the official ban to hold the international gay cinema festival Bok o Bok (Side by Side) in Saint Petersburg." Belarusian LGBT community activists still plan to hand over a letter to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the Embassy officials and to demand an official explanation of this ban from City Mayor of Minsk.
The Bok o Bok festival attracted homophobic comments from leading intellectuals in Russia last month. The state Cinema House and in the private cinema PIK both agreed to screen films and then withdrew. Organisers were going to show films in two nightclubs, but they were ruled unacceptable venues by the fire authorities.
Russian gay activist Nicolas Alexeyev said: "Russian authorities continue their policy of homophobia and arbitrary unlawful actions by preventing events organised behind closed doors in private places. From the very first day I supported the conduct of this film festival in Saint Petersburg but already in February I expressed my fears that the authorities will stop the event on technical reasons at the very last minute. The only major LGBT event that could be organised over the last years in Russia are the May 2006 and May 2007 LGBT conference that where held during the Moscow Pride Festival at the Moscow Swissotel. And still, it is only because we booked conference rooms in a local five star hotel belonging to foreign interests that authorities were not able to play the same game with us."
Conservatives within the country’s artistic community had called for the film festival to be banned. The State Artist of Russia Nikolai Burlyaev publicly called gay people "perverts" and homosexuality a "sin" and an "illness" and demanded St Petersburg authorities stop the event.
November 19, 2008 – ukgaynews.org.uk
Gay Activists Discuss Homosexuality with Homophobic Far Right Groups – Extraordinary seminar held in Minsk
Minsk,(GayRussia.ru/Gay.by) – Three of the leading gay activists in Belarus came face to face with representatives of the ‘far right’ at a seminar in Minsk yesterday. With the theme ‘Do radical organizations have the right to exist’, the seminar was organised by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.
“It was very good that we and our opponents could see each other face to face and to talk,” commented Sergei Androsenko of the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality. " We will continue broad presentation of LGBT movement during the events of various kinds. And of course we are thankful to Belarusian Helsinki Committee for the invitation to take part in this seminar.” Also taking part in the seminar were LGBT activists Sergei Prad and Polina Likhodievskaya.
Facing them were representative of the ‘far right’ – including the groups Belaya Volya, Pravyi Alliance, Belarusian Christian Democracy, Molodoi Front as well as the former editor of Teocratia magazine. During the seminar, the participants diverged from the main topic of the discussion included in the organiser’s program. The reason was the participation of the representative of the LGBT community.
This meant that participants discussed the topic of homosexuality. The far right representatives categorically rejected homosexual relations. But it did not prevent gay activist Mr. Androsenko to publicly express the views and positions of his movement. At one stage, a representative from Pravyi Alliance pointed at Mr. Androsenko and said: “This young guy certainly came and got what he wanted – everyone is discussing homosexuality”. The support during the seminar for sexual minorities in their fight for equality came from expert lawyers and human rights activists who also took part in the event.
Following the seminar, Mr. Androsenko was interviews by TV BelSat and Radio Ratsya. He said: “We, the representatives of the movement for the rights of sexual minorities, should not be scared to come to the events of our opponents. We must go to them, we must knock on their doors, we must try to tell them about homosexuality what they don’t know.” Mr. Androsenko went on to say that “participation in this event persuaded me that phobias of far right radicals are mostly due to the fact that they don’t know anything about homosexuality, they follow well known rooted stereotypes.
“I heard absolutely illiterate and ridiculous accusations towards people like me, towards homosexuals.” Last weekend Belarusian and Russian gay activists gathered in Minsk to unite their efforts in the fight against homophobia and decided to start Slavic Gay Pride movement. The first march is planned for 16 May 2009, the day of Eurovision Song Contest final, in Moscow.
November 20, 2008 – ukgaynews.org.uk
Belarusians More Tolerant to Sexual Minorities than Russians? Slavic Gay Pride movement opens public discussion on the rights of gays and lesbians in Belarus
Moscow,(GayRussia.ru) – The ‘unification seminar’ between Russian and Belarusian gay activists in Minsk last weekend – and the announcement of the creation of the Slavic Gay Pride movement with its first march on May 16 next year in Moscow – has provoked reaction not only in Russia but also in Belarus. And the support for rights for gay men and women appears to be stronger than in Russia. According to the website Gay.By, the Belarusian Internet radio TUT has shown interest in the concept of the Slavic Gay Pride in Moscow on Eurovision Song Contest final day.
A reporter from TUT went into the streets for some vox pops with ordinary people, asking about their attitude towards homosexual people.
The replies they go – and broadcast – were mixed, but generally supportive of gay rights. They include:
Let them marry, of course, let them have children, if they can. If they have conditions then let them do it.
? Yes, really, they should be given liberty probably
? Just that they do not propagate this massively and the issue of children should be thought out…
? Same-sex marriages? This should be thought out…
? The response to gays is the following. Kill yourself, faggots…
? If they are trying, let them try…
? Same-sex marriages are too much for our country.
? Gays are the same humans as all.
? After all they are a minority, let them gather and go to Holland, to create something together there but not here. We are rooted Slavic people and we are not destined to be gays.
? We should deal with it in a more tolerant way.
? We should have the same attitude here as in all open world.
? I think our head of state does not respond to all letters, and to this specially will not. I think they don’t have big chances… Let them write letters…
TUT.By radio reported that “Belarusian gays demand equality. They decided to send a letter to President Alexander Lukashenko, trying to attract attention to the problems of sexual minorities in this country. Moreover, Belarusian gays are going to unite in the fight for their rights with Russian gays and stage Slavic Gay Pride in Moscow during Eurovision final.”
The results of the poll conducted on TUT.By site show that around 13% have positive attitude towards homosexual people, around 25% are neutral. 38% expressed their negative attitude to gays and lesbians while 24% chose the answer “I have no connection with them”. At the end of the radio news report the journalist suggested that “as we can see out of the responses that we got, everything is not so bad in our country.”
“I was pleasantly surprised by the responses of Belarusian respondents during the poll on the streets,” chief organiser of Moscow Pride, Nikolai Alekseev, said last night. “They showed higher tolerance towards sexual minorities in the society. But I am glad that the movement of Slavic Gay Pride that we created less than a week ago has already lead to the start of the discussions in the society – and the media – about the rights of gays and lesbians in Belarus. This is only the beginning but it is a foundation.”