January 9, 2009 – PinkNews
Gay journalist called up for military service in Belarus
by Felicity Baker
A gay activist and editor of Gay.by, Belarus’ biggest LGBT website, has been called up for military duties. Alexander Paluyan, 23, has so far been exempt for medical reasons. Members of the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality have expressed concern about him serving in what is regarded by the group as a largely homophobic army. Another gay man has also been called up but his identity has been kept a secret. Paluyan has to report to a military department in Mozyr today (January 9th) where he will learn if he is still be exempt or be told the date he is due to start.
In an email to GayRussia.ru, activists wrote: "We are anxious for the physical and psychological health of our friend, colleague and activist."
An application has been made by the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality to have a demonstration on January 12th in front of the military department. They say they want to draw the attention of the authorities to the dangers homosexual men face in the army.
Sergey Androsenko, a representative for the organisation, said: "It is not safe for an openly gay person to be called up for military duties."
January 12, 2009 – PinkNews
Belarusian activist saved from army conscription
by Felicity Baker
Alexander Paluyan, the 23-year-old gay activist and editor of Belarusian LGBT website Gay.by, will no longer be called up to join the country’s military. It had been reported that Paluyan was to report to a military base in Mozyr on January 9th, after a change in law meant that he was no longer exempt from the army because of a medical condition.
News of Mr Paluyan’s conscription was widely reported through the Belarusian LGBT community, and lead to the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality planning a protest in front of a local military department. Generally when someone called up for military duty in Belarus states they are homosexual they are identified as having a "psychiatric disease." Mr Paluyan is reportedly the only person exempt from military duty without being diagnosed with a mental illness.
In an email to GayRussia Mr Paluyan said: "It is good that everything was done on time and many thanks to everyone for support which I received from friends and colleagues. Without their help I would now be wearing the military boots."
Meanwhile activists have launched a campaign with the aim of getting the Ministry of Defence to reduce homophobia within the Belarusian army.
From: "Svyatoslav Sementsov" <email@example.com>
European LGBT youth against the Belarus dictatorship! Join us!
On the night of 18th-19th of March 2009 JEF will organise a co-ordinated pan-European action in different cities across the continent to show support to the suppressed civil society, LGBT and opposition movement in Belarus. The date coincides with the 2006 Presidential elections in Belarus. The action consists of gagging statues in cities throughout Europe and the world that will symbolically be prevented from speaking freely, much like the current situation of the people in Belarus. The 2009 Action will call on Europe to stand up for democracy in Belarus in defence of human rights. Signs such as "It’s time for change… It’s Time for a Free Belarus’ – will be hung around the necks of the statues. This is th’e fourth year we do this action’ last year 80 European cities joined and this year we hope to beat this record!
JEF and TEMA would like to invite LGBT activists and organisations of all backgrounds who believe in democracy and respect for human rights to join us in this action against Europe last dictator-ship durin= g the night of the 18th and 19th of March. All it takes is some tape, paper and a cloth! Go with your organisation and friends or join a JEF local section – simply contact firstname.lastname@example.org – to find a section near you or tell us about your planned activity. Please also send any pictures from the statues you gagged for immediate release online – www.jef.eu – together with all other pictures from the pan-European action in support of democracy and LGBT movement in Belarus!
"I believe this action can will make clear focus on human rights situation in general as well as LGBT human rights in BELARUS – the last dictatorship in Europe! We ask all LGBT organization in Europe join this action and raise rainbow flags, to show your support and say – that LGBT rights are Human Rights and Belarus as a European country have to respect them!" – said Svyatoslav Sementsov.
"Homosexuality is not illegal in Belarus, but discrimination against homosexuals was widespread, and harassment occurred. Government-controlled media discouraged participation in the protests following the 2006 presidential election by saying they were part of a "gay revolution". This year two LGBT public gatherings were banned by Minsk and Gomel City Administration The organizers see this denial of permission as part of a pattern of infringement on the rights to assembly and they are concerned that homophobia may be a significant factor in the refusals."
We would really appreciate if you could disseminate this invitation among your contacts and networks, as well as to any other contacts you think that may be interested in joining the action outside Belarus.
April 8, 2009 – Gays Without Borders
Month Against Homophobia in Belarus, April 17 – May 17, 2009
Here comes the second annual campaign “Month against Homophobia” in Belarus.
It is going to be two years on end when Belarusian LGBT-groups are carrying on a campaign to resist homophobia and homosexual discrimination in Belarus. The campaign “Month against Homophobia” will be conducted from the 17th of April till the 17th of May in Minsk, Grodno and Luninets.
The campaign is organized by Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality and Remedial Project “Gay Belarus”, supported by portal Gay.by, Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Youth Social Democrats – Young Community, Republican Youth Association “Meeting” and Belarusian “Green” Party. The campaign includes a range of seminars dedicated to the problem of discrimination and homophobia in Belarus, a round table discussion with non-state organizations and religion representatives invited. There are planned some educational and informational activities for both the LGBT community and the society on the whole.
Among the main objectives of “Month against Homophobia in Belarus” there are:
– To resist any kind of physical, moral and symbolic violence to people with a different sexual orientation and gender identity;
– To show solidarity to all the gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the world, including those unable to defend their rights;
– To carry on a wider campaign for human right defense;
“Month against Homophobia in Belarus” starts with a premiere demonstration of the film “The Birds Cannot Fly” which tells about LGBT Christians.
homophobiabelarus1The representatives of the Belarusian LGBT-movement are going to take part in the “Chernobyl path” which is annually held in the memory of victims of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station Disaster. The 16th of May is the day of memory for people who died of AIDS. There will be the special activities carried on in all the regional centres, Minsk and Svetlogorsk.
The campaign is to end on the 17th of May, the international day of Homophobia resistance. On that day the representatives of “Gay Belarus” project will take part in “Slavic Pride” in Moscow while in Minsk the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality will lay flowers to the Trostenets Memorial in order to commemorate Nazi concentration camps victims among who there were also gays tortured in Nazi Germany. You can find all the detailed information about the activities within the campaign “Month against Homophobia in Belarus” on the site www.homophobia.gay.by.
April 26, 2009 – UK Gay News
Belarusian Opposition Does Not Want Visible Gays at its Chernobyl Remembrance March
Minsk (GayRussia.ru) – Gay activists in Belarus have been told they are not wanted in the annual march for the remembrance of the Chernobyl disaster. The march is due to take place today in Minsk. Sergey Androsenko, the leader of the LGBT group Project GayBelarus had asked opposition leaders to include his organisation in the committee of the commemorative march. But he was turned down.
“Gays should apply with their own notification to Minsk City Authorities to conduct their separate events,” said Victor Iwaszkiewicz, the deputy chairman of the Belarusian National Front. “You should not confuse two completely different actions,” he added.
Project GayBelarus immediately hit back. “As a citizen of Belarus, I can also consider as inappropriate the flags of Belarus Christian Democracy and the banners of Youth Front on this rememberance march,” he said. “The European institutions have to remind the members of the Belarusian opposition which it meets that human rights are indivisible and apply to all,” he added.
Last year, Sergey Androsenko took part to the Chernobyl march with a large rainbow flag. His presence drew interest – but never anger from the participants. The Chernobyl remembrance march is one of the very few public event allowed by the Belarusian authorities in which the political opposition can take part. Freedom of Assembly is almost non existing in a country that is widely seen as “last European dictatorship”.
Mr. Androsenko continued: “In May, we are travelling in Moscow where we co-organise Slavic Pride during the Eurovision Song Contest – and next year, we will host it in Minsk”.
May 31, 2009 – From: "Svyatoslav Sementsov"
Svyatoslav Sementsov, Co-president
TEMA – information center
Torture and violent against gay people in Gomel city jail
A 47-year-old Israeli and a 26-year-old Belarusian were arrested in Gomel on May 19 on suspicion of sexually abusing minors, including boys (under 16 y.o.) Criminal proceedings were instituted against the two men under Part Three of the Criminal Code’s Article 167, which provides for prison sentences of between eight and 15 years. Although the suspects have been charged with only one count of abuse, the number is likely to increase to at least 20.
The 47y.o. Israeli got single room of where he is safe enough, but 26 y.o. Belarusian got a group room of jail with 19 other men. According to there lawyer, 26 y.o. Belarusian was raped by other men and all the teeth are broken on the first day. This violent continue everyday till now! Gomel city jail administration knows about this but don’t protect him or provide any medical help.
Belarus as a civilized European country, as government identify it self, have to respect basic human right presumption of innocence – being considered innocent until proven guilty! The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11, states: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defence. In any final of this criminal case people have a right be protected from torture and violent.
Protest sent to:
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus
2 Gorodskoy val st.
July 22, 2009 – PinkNews
Belarus customs officials seize copies of gay magazine
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Customs officials in Belarus have seized 25 copies of gay magazine Pride. The magazine is published by international group InterPride. Siarhei Androsenka, the head of Project GayBelarus, told ukgaynews.org.uk that he was told of the seizure last week. He was informed that they had been seized because GayBelarus has no legal status in country and that the copies could not be for personal use of the addressee, Sergey Androsenko.
In a statement on the group’s website, it pointed out that the "rights of freedom speech, distribution and reception of the printed information" are often limited by the government. The group’s applications to become a registered organisation have been refused. Although homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Belarus, homophobia is widespread and instances of harassment occur in all spheres of society.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Belarus in 1994. In December several MEPs asked questions about the situation for LGBT people in the country, often desrcibed as Europe’s last dictatorship.
Belarusian LGBT activist Maxim Tsar’kov was beaten up
"That night I and three of my friends went to visit the night club Hall. We danced and had fun, but after mid-night a few guys came to us and began to make insults because of our sexual orientation." Maxim Tsar’kov said. "I do not deny and didn’t deny that I am – gay. We asked security for the assistance and they threw these homophobic guys out."
"Some time later we decide to leave the club and take a taxi back home. When I went out of the cab I saw these guys again and recognize that they followed me all this time. One of them shouted ‘So what fag? You need to answer for your actions’. After that he broke an empty beer bottle and threw it in my face and ran away.
"I went to the apartment, called for emergency. I was taken to the 11th Hospital Surgery, where doctor did 18 seams on my face." At the end Maxim Tsar’kov said, "I do not regret that I came out to the aggressors in my sexual orientation. I will continue to be open gay in this country and will take a risk to life and health".
16 September 2009 – MadKazemi Blog
More than a half of gays and lesbians in Belarus want to leave their country
Location of Belarus in Europe via Wikipedia
About a half of visitors of Gay.by who were participating in the survey on the topic «Have you ever thought of leaving Belarus because of homophobia?» have answered yes. Moreover a fifth of participants are ready to do so at the first opportunity. In all there were 408 people who took part in the survey. If to compare this result with the all-Belarus research on the wish to leave the country conducted by the Sociometrical Laboratory “NOVAK” the situation with gay minorities greatly differs from all the immigration wishers.
According to the “NOVAK” research about 40% of youth and unemployed wish to leave Belarus (taking all the population this index is twice lower). 14,7% of unemployed found it difficult to answer if they wished to leave the country . This means that leaving Belarus could be a possible variant for them . And 12,5% simply don’t have money for immigration.
If we take gay and lesbian community and the wish the leave the country because of homophobia we will see the following situation:
56% want to leave the country (21% of them will do at the first possibility)
9% have already left the country
26% won’t leave the country, and 9% consider that there is no homophobia in Belarus .
If we make a rough calculation we can see that 65% want or have already left the country and 35% don’t want to leave.
The main reason why the representatives of gay and lesbian community want to leave the country is the social disapproval of homosexual relations, violence against gays and lesbians, the absence of social defense, law basis, civilized recreation sector, and also the fear of losing the job if the fact of being a homosexual will be revealed to the authorities. 56% of gays and lesbians face the facts of homophobia at work while 13% of them face it regularly.
The main destinations that are chosen by Belarusians for leaving are the USA and the countries of Western Europe .
Criminal Case Started Against LGBT Activist
On September 23, Belarusian LGBT leader and co-president of the Information Center TEMA, Svyatoslav Sementsov, was summoned to the KGB Gomel regional department and informed that criminal case was started against him under article 193-1 Criminal Code of Belarus "Organizing group activities in the name of non-registered organization". Sementsov said, "On 22 September I received the phone call from a KGB officer Surin (as he said) who said I should come on September 23 to the KGB Gomel regional department in 13:00. And if I’ll not come they will be bring my using physical force. I don’t have a lawyer, so I decided to go himself. I said nothing to my famaly to don’t make them worry"
"When I came, I was led into the room No. 2-7 at the second floor, there were 3 people in civilian clothes. One of them asked me to sit down and said that he is Surin. I was informed that criminal case on Art. 193-1 starts due to my participation in an unregistered NGO TEMA, and I can get fine or a prison term of up to two years. Also, I was told that they can start an other criminar case on art. 369-1 "Providing false information to a foreign organization or government, defined as information intended to misrepresent or discredit Belarus" because of the fact that I have disseminated information on violations and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Belarus and this information are used by many international human rights organizations in their reports."
"They offered me to work for KGB in exchange for closing the criminal case. For this I’ll have to tell them the password for my e-mail, a list of members and gays among officials whom I know. I refused and said that will not work for them. The officer said that I still regret it later, but it will be too late. From the conversation I realized that they know too much about our organization and probably we have a rat at our board".
Article 193-1, which penalizes acting on behalf of unregistered organizations, was added to the Criminal Code in December 2005 as part of amendments that provided for harsh punishment "for activities directed against people and public security." Conviction under it carries penalties of a fine or a prison term of up to two years. Belarusian human rights defenders and international human rights organizations have condemned this article and repeatedly urged the Belarusian government to abolish it. Since 2006, when the criminal responsibility for activities of unregistered organisations was enforced, 17 persons were convicted under Article 193-1. There were no acquitting judgements in these cases.
Article 361-1 criminalises "calls for actions directed at damaging the national security of Belarus, the overthrow of the State, territorial integrity …". The second paragraph of the same article criminalises calls addressed to a foreign State or an international organisation to act in a manner that harms the national security of Belarus. Both offences are punishable by jail terms of up to three years – or five years in case of dissemination through the media. Finally, Article 369-1 criminalises defamation of the Republic of Belarus towards foreign States and foreign or international organisations, defined as knowingly handing over false information concerning the Belarusian State or its organs.
Restrictions on the right of free expression on the grounds of national security are justified only when there is a direct, rather than a conjectural link, between the expression and the likelihood of harm occurring. The restriction of expressions based on a hypothetical or remote risk of harm unnecessarily limits democratic debate about what are often important and contentious political issues. Article 361-1 and (2) are extremely vaguely worded and set a very low threshold for the imposition of limitations to the right to free expression. The penalties are also grossly disproportionate.
Article 369-1 is equally problematic, as it criminalises defamation of the Belarusian State. The prevailing view in advanced democracies is that public bodies, including the State, do not have a reputation entitled to legal protection, since they lack an emotional or financial interest in preserving their good name. Moreover, the penalty is disproportionate and likely to greatly undermine, by creating a ‘chilling effect’, exchanges between Belarusian people and foreign countries. In the words of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the amendments "will further plunge Belarusian society into an atmosphere of fear."
I’ll keep you informed about this case and please be ready for immediate action in case of violence or arrest.
September 26, 2009 – Gay Russia
Belgrade Pride: A Chance to Set the Fight for Gay Rights at a New Level
Last Saturday morning, I flew to Belgrade confident that there will be a gay pride authorised and protected by the local authorities. In the preceding weeks, the organisers did not leave any doubt in their courage and determination to stage their march despite the threats from extremists. But most of all, they had receive a large support both inside and outside the country, even at the highest level of the State. The past experience of 2001 when opponents attacked the participants was still in everyone’s memories. I remember having seen the images at various conferences in 2006 and 2007. The police, by its absence of reaction, was allowing extremists to attack the crowd.
This time – the gay pride again seemed to be the target of extremists. In the days before the march was planned, the city was covered with homophobic slogans and it is hard to make an exhaustive list of threats sent to the address of any of those who were ready to participate in the event. At first, it could give an impression that a bad remake the 2001 attempt was on its way to happen. But in fact, much has changed in the last eight years. Serbia realised that it no longer wanted to be seen as the pariah of Europe, especially after the former states of Yugoslavia started to join the EU. Many Serbians reject violence and aim to live in a civilised European society. As a result, the current government understood that protecting and respecting the human rights of all its citizen is a mandatory step before it could pretend to join the EU.
One of the main tests of commitment to democracy and human rights is the attitude towards minorities. And this is not a surprise if on the eve of the scheduled gay pride, foreign and local media called the march a test for the Serbian government and its ability to guaranty democracy. The permission for the march was granted, hence, allowing local activists to clean the dramatic images of 2001. For sure, there were different voices in the local community about the necessity to hold the event in these conditions. But this is nothing new. Everywhere, different groups often have different strategies. It should not prevent to achieve a common goal: the struggle for equal rights.
The Budapest Pride, had the police successfully managed to protect the participants of the pride from extremists, showed a good example for Serbia, especially that it took place only two weeks before. The [Belgrade] organisers managed to collect support not only within their community but also from many gay friendly people who said they will take part. Celebrities, politicians expressed their support. The ombudsman also expressed his intention to march with the participants. The Mayor of Belgrade recognised the right of sexual minorities to express their opinions. That was not enough. The President himself said that the police had to ensure the security of the participants. But suddenly, the pressure on the police was higher.
Extremists said they will not attack only the participants but also the police who protect them. Then, the violent attack of a French football fan in Serbia in the days preceding the pride is also said to have played a role. It seems to me that the government had no desire to see a repetition of the scenario of 2001. Having a peaceful march attacks and people injured would have been a serious blow for the European ambition of the country. Most of all, after the statement of support from several officials including the President, a bad disruption of the pride would show that hooligans and extremists are stronger than those who govern the country. As we know, it is one thing to make a statement of support for a politician, but it is another to put the promise into practice.
Under these circumstances, the Serbian police objectively understood that they will not be able to ensure the safety of the participants in the route that was initially agreed. After the attack of the French supporter, the mayor even admitted that Belgrade has ceased to be a safe city. But after all that was said, the Serbian authorities could simply no longer cancel the event or they would simply lose their face in front of their European counterparts.
On Saturday morning, the organisers of the march were invited for a meeting with the Prime Minister during which they were told about the impossibility to ensure the security of the gay pride in the centre of the city. Instead, the organisers were offered to move the march in a park located in New Belgrade, across the river Sava, and, relatively far from the centre. The organisers rejected the proposal and decided to cancel the event, saying that the offer from the authorities was de-facto a cancellation. According to them, holding a gay pride far from the crowd does not make any sense as it will not be visible.
On Saturday evening, the organisers arranged a meeting with the foreign guests who came to support them. At this point, they explained us the reasons for the cancellation. From the moment our plane landed in Belgrade and I was told that the march was cancelled, I thought about how my colleagues and I would have handle a similar situation in Moscow. The proposal of the Serbian Prime Minister to go and march in Usce would be similar to Russian Prime Minister Putin meeting us and offering to march on the embankment of the Moskva River which… we would agree.
In between, I found out that the area the Serbian Prime Minister proposed as a new location that was regularly offered by the former authoritarian President Slobodan Milosevic as a venue for public events organised by its opponents. What could be more symbolic than to draw a parallel and compare the current government with the tyrant Milosevic? How can I forget the experience of the Moscow and Slavic Gay Pride in 2008 and 2009, when despite a total ban of our actions, we still managed to stage an event avoiding trouble with the fanatics, just because we changed the location at the last minute.
For us, it was enough to invite journalists and media and to have them widely broadcast our event. For sure, it would be a symbolic victory to walk on the main street of Belgrade but does that still make a difference if no one can see the march because all the streets are blocked for security reasons? The organisers themselves said earlier that they will not be able to take part in the march because the relevant area will be closed. It is obvious that under the present conditions a gay pride in Belgrade cannot be seen by the ordinary crowd wherever it would take place. Locked in a park or locked in the centre, the result would have been the same. No crowd would see the event.
But does that really matter after all? We live in the 21st century – a time when access to information is easy. The right to freedom of assembly in a modern society can also be achieved by adjusting to these new technologies. The number of people who see a public action in the streets is nothing when compared to the coverage one event can get with the presence of only one journalist. One of the wonders of modern civilisation is that you can make use of all media – Internet, television, newspapers, and magazines – to achieve a maximum publicity for a campaign. Even 20 people, as we saw, can make the news all around the world.
By cancelling the gay pride, the organisers missed the chance to express their message in the society. They choose not to follow the same way than did organisers in cities were extremists intended to attack a peaceful crowd. In Riga and Jerusalem the organisers had to go through a period when they had to agree on holding their event in a park or a stadium before the pressure from extremist cooled down and they could be allowed in the streets of the city. The organisers have done a fantastic job in achieving great political support which, we, in Moscow, are still dreaming of. And they were just one step away from a huge political success.
By agreeing to relocate the march, they could have first of all give a lesson of democracy to homophobes and most probably start to think of holding their rally next year in a more crowded area of the city centre. By rejecting the proposal of the government, they gave a feeling of victory to the fanatics who got rewarded for their threats and homophobic graffiti. The government is now discussing to outlaw fanatic groups but if the same government cannot protect its own citizen today from such extremist, what is it going to change?
It seems to me that in the current situation, even the European Court of Human Rights, which could potentially be seized here, would not likely to judge in favour of the organisers. I would like to wish the organisers of the Belgrade Gay Pride success in the future and I hope that they will soon achieve their right to freedom of assembly in Serbia. Even if they do not realise it, their actions and their decisions affect the struggle for the rights of LGBT people in other countries, including in Russia.
Before this trip to Belgrade, I was told that the gay pride in the Serbian capital could deprive Russian homophobes, including the mayor of Moscow, of one of their last example of banned march in Europe. It is a pity that last Sunday, it did not happen.
Nikolai Alekseev, GayRussia.Ru
September 28, 2009 – Gay Russia
Hundred Participants at Minsk Gay Rights Conference – Resolution on LGBT Rights in Belarus Adopted – and No Incidents
Dozens of participants from 9 Belarusian cities and 10 countries listened to 23 reports Last Saturday 26 September, Minsk leading 5 star hotel Crowne Plaza hosted the largest ever LGBT conference in Belarus history. According to a diplomat who attended the event, “this hotel is known as the last place where a little bit of freedom is possible”. Over 100 participants attended one day event, “LGBT Movement and NGOs: Prospects for Cooperation with active civil society to overcome homophobia in Belarus”, and 23 reports were presented.
Activists travelled from all across the country to attend the event, representing 9 different cities of Belarus. They were joined by delegates from several European countries such as Poland, Ukraine, France, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, United Kingdom and Russia. More than 30 organizations from the civil society and the LGBT community were represented. Among them, the main human rights organisations, Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Human Rights Centre “Vesna”, the Green Party, the Association of Belarusian Journalists and the Movement for the future.
The conference aimed to be a forum representing the diversity of the civil society and the LGBT community in addressing the issue of homophobia. Participants expressed a large extend of views on the necessity and strategy to address the issue of homophobia. The Belarusian Helsinki Committee reminded that gay rights are part of human rights and thus emphasized on the importance that human rights NGOs and LGBT activists work together. Belarusian Social Democratic Party and the Green Party explained the necessity for their political movements to include LGBT Rights in their program. The Green Party reminded that it already set-up its LGBT Commission.
Activists from GayRussia.Ru insisted on the importance for homosexuals to come out to fight for their rights giving example of the campaigns of Harvey Milk. Other delegates discussed the issues of LGBT identity, psychological aspects of homophobia, history of homosexuality in Belarus, homophobia in politics, education of journalists on gay issues, gay business, homosexuality and religion. The conference, held under the patronage of the International Day Against Homophobia – IDAHO Committee was co-organized by the LGBT Human Rights Projects GayBelarus.By and GayRussia.Ru. During his welcome speech to the participants, Louis-Georges Tin, the President of the IDAHO Committee, explained that activists are making history, reminding that in Belarus, the Day against homophobia is regularly celebrated. “You are making history today” said Mr Tin.
Sergey Androsenko, head of GayBelarus.By and co-organizer of the event, urged the Belarusian LGBT activists to show solidarity: “Even if we hold sometimes different views, we have a common goal”. Nikolai Alekseev, head of GayRussia.Ru and organiser of Moscow Pride, noted that exactly on the same day, 9 years ago, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved historical recommendation on the rights of gays and lesbians in the member states of the Council of Europe. “Belarus as a European state can not remain cut from the processes taking place on the continent” said Mr Alekseev.
The delegation of the European Commission to Belarus gave its political support to the event. Mr Jean-Eric Holzapfel, head of the delegation, insisted in his opening speech on the necessity to fight homophobia in Europe and in Belarus in particular. Mr. Holzapfel noted in his speech that “As our immediate eastern neighbour, the human rights situation in Belarus is of particular interest to us. This applies of course to the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”. Representatives of the Swedish, French and Hungarian Embassies as well as a representative of the NGO “Global Rights Defenders” (ex-Swedish Helsinki Committee) were present as observers.
During the conference the participants watched a documentary produced by a French TV channel France 4 showing the cooperation of Belarusian and Russian LGBT movement in staging the first Slavic Pride last May in Moscow.
In conclusion, the conference delegates discussed and adopted a joint resolution on the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons in Belarus. The text, which will be sent to the President, the government and the parliament, is calling for the ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the prosecution of hate speech, the recognition of equal rights of same-sex couples, the recognition of May 17th as the Day Against Homophobia. It furthers asks the authorities to provide support in organizing Slavic Pride in Minsk next May.
At the closing of the conference Nikolai Alekseev stressed to the participants that “today we made an important step to establish rights for LGBT people in Belarus”. He reminded that “we could not dream when we started our cooperation 10 months ago that we could achieve so much together”. Late on Saturday the Swedish Embassy hosted a reception for the participants of the conference in one of Minsk restaurants. The LGBT community plans to stage Slavic Gay Pride in Minsk on May 15, 2010. On Saturday night a local club hosted the Grand Finale of the election of “Miss Trans Diva Belarus”. The crown was won by Belarus diva Lika Milovski.
October 5th, 2009 – Box Turtle Bulletin
Major LGBT Conference Held In Belarus While Authorities Looked The Other Way
by Jim Burroway
The situation for LGBT people in Belarus has always been difficult. While the legal ban on homosexual behavior was lifted in 1994, Belarus law offers no protections for its LGBT citizens and officially-sanction harassment remains rampant in the former Soviet republic. Every attempt to hold Gay Pride marches since 1999 has failed due to official bans. In 2004, a conference by the International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network was canceled after authorities threatened the host organizers and threatened to expel participating foreigners. Belarus routinely blocks access to LGBT websites.
And so it was quite a surprise to learn that Belarus authorities allowed a large (by Eastern European standards) international LGBT conference to proceed this year undisturbed. (That lack of interference may explain why the conference went largely unnoticed in the West.) On Saturday, September 26, more than 100 participants from ten countries gathered for ”Movement and NGOs: Prospects for Cooperation with active civil society to overcome homophobia in Belarus” at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Minsk.
The conference, billed as the largest ever Belarusian LGBT conference, closed with a resolution calling on President Alexander Lukashenko and the government of Belarus to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, provide protections against hate crimes, grant equal rights to same-sex couples, to end the practice of blocking internet access to LGBT web sites, and to support Slavic Pride slated for May 15, 2010.
Russian and Belarusian LGBT activists have been working together for nearly a year on several joint projects, including last May’s Slavic Pride in Moscow. When Moscow riot police broke up the march and arrested most of the participants, the Belarusian Embassy in Moscow refused to provide assistance for their own detainees. Next year’s Slavic Pride will be held in Minsk.
Conference participants came from across Belarus, as well as Poland, Ukraine, France, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, United Kingdom and Russia. Some of the organizations represented include the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Belarusian Social Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Association of Belarusian Journalists, and activists from the GayRussia.ru LGBT portal. Observers from the Swedish, French and Hungarian embassies were also in attendance. The Swedish Embassy hosted a reception for conference participants at a Minsk restaurant.
October 14th 2009. – Gay.By
Journalists who illuminated LGBT topics in Belarus awarded “Pierrot” premium prizes
Minsk – At the “Minsk” Hotel of the Belarusian capital the ceremony of “Pierrot” premium took place. This premium acknowledges the works of the journalists who add to the development of the tolerant attitude, decrease of homophobia and homosexual discrimination in the society. The premium was nominated in Belarus for the first time and it has become a symbol of acknowledgement of the journalistic work and professionalism in advocating the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people and in informing the population about the problems of LGBT community.
February 1, 2010 – Svyatoslav Sementsov
Belarus in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide
The chapter on Belarus was included in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide published earlier this year. The three volumes account for more than 1300 pages of important and timely information. This set has an ambitious scope with the goal of offering the most up-to-date international overview of key issues in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Eighty-two countries are represented. Belarus chapter was written by Viachaslau Bortnik, Belarusian human rights defender and LGBT activist.
Below we provide excerpts from the chapter.
Overview of LGBT Issues in Belarus
While homosexual activity is no longer considered a crime in Belarus, and the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual relations is equal, LGBT rights still remains a marginal topic in public discourse and does not play any role in national and or local politics. Homophobia remains widespread throughout the country country, and instances of harassment and discrimination appear occur regularly. Many Belarusians believe consider homosexuality to be a disease, and some see it as a sin, but few consider it a legitimate sexual orientation.
President Lukashenka and members of Parliament parliament often make negative statements about homosexuals, which strengthens strengthening the homophobia in society. Homosexuality is frowned upon in Belarusian society and condemned by the church. Belarusian society is conservative in this respect, with homosexuals generally being socially stigmatized. Gay life in Belarus remains largely underground, and only a few homosexuals openly declare their sexual orientation.
The government-controlled media often attempts to smear the domestic political opposition by associating it with homosexuality. This strategy is also used against foreign countries; in one two year period, three foreign diplomats were expelled from Belarus on claims of homosexuality. Homosexuality is often seen by the government as allied with Western paths to development.
While the Belarusian Constitution constitution says it forbids discrimination, this prohibition has not extended to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Belarusian law does not provide protection for LGBT people against discrimination with regard to employment, housing, or family relationships. Although many people live together outside of marriage , domestic partnership and cohabitation is are not recognized by the government and LGBT Belarusian couples do not have any of the rights as of heterosexual couples. Gay men are also not allowed to serve in the armed forces.
Although hate crimes against homosexuals are not uncommon, homophobia is not recognized as an independent motive for crimes. LGBT people continue to face harassment and discrimination by the general population; and they cannot count on police protection protection, as the police often refuse to protect the rights of LGBT citizens. There is evidence that LGBT people are targeted for violence; in 2001–2002, five LGBT people were tortured and killed in Minsk. Other countries have granted asylum to Belarusians who claimed discrimination based on sexual orientation.
There is no official recognition of LGBT organizations in Belarus, although many groups continue to operate without registering, which makes them illegal. These groups face difficulties such as armed militia storming into their meetings to threaten and arrest their members, members; LGBT individuals and groups are also the target of hate crimes. Recent changes to Belarus’s Criminal criminal Code code have given the authorities even more latitude to treat the activities of LGBT groups as illegal attempts to discredit or bring harm to Belarus.
Outlook for the 21st Century
The Belarusian LGBT movement is one of the youngest in Europe. It operates in one of the most repressive political environments, nearly in full international isolation, without public support inside the country. Attempts of at consolidation undertaken by LGBT groups in 2007 give vital hope for a grooving, growing developing movement to benefit the Belarusian LGBT community as a whole. The most important step in the near future is seen to be a public campaign to change the legislation affecting the relationship between NGOs and the government government; that this will allow LGBT groups to work openly and more effectively. The second step is the promotion of antidiscrimination legislation. The Belarusian LGBT movement can only achieve these serious goals by working in alliance with other organizations that fight for human rights, women’s rights rights, and other progressive causes in the country.
Undoubtedly, gradual change in the political regime and future integration within the European Union will play an important role in the improvement of the situation of LGBT people in Belarus.
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide/ Edited by Chuck Stewart, 2010.
Svyatoslav Sementsov, co-president
TEMA – information center
February 27, 2010 – UK Gay News
Belarusian Gay Group Launches ‘Unregistered’ Magazine Restricted to Just 299 Copies
Minsk, (GayRussia/UK Gay News) – A new “unofficial” gay magazine is to be launched this evening at Club 6A, the only gay club in Minsk. The magazine, GAY: Good As You, is targeted at the gay community initially in Minsk, will be published every two months and is a free publication. It will be available in both Belarusian and Russian languages. Chief-editor Sergey Praded, who at the end of last year was one of three gay activists fined for staging a demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in Minsk, explained that organising such project in Belarus was not an easy task.
“Unfortunately, the authorities have refused to register our magazine, making it unofficial –and preventing us from printing more than 299 copies, according to the law. But we hope to be able to circulate a few in other cities by April,” he added
Mr. Praded also said that the project, which involves a team of ten volunteers, is the result of local networking. “After the successful LGBT Conference that we organized last September in Minsk with the IDAHO Committee and the Russian LGBT group GayRussia, we made some good contacts with key Embassies and this project is already the first result.”
According to the GayBelarus Website, the magaine “intends to aquaint the public with the problems of the LGBT community [in Belarus] and to discuss serious problems”. The first issue will be distributed locally in Minsk from this evening and will be online at www.gaybelarus.by from tomorrow (Sunday February 28).
May 15, 2010 – GlobalGayz.com
Gay Pride Attacked in Belarus
by Richard Ammon
Saturday May 15 2010, gay Pride day in Minsk, Balarus, arrived and there were no unusual surprises: trouble was anticipated and trouble there was.
The gay participants knew the police would try to stop them. The police knew where the marchers were and intercepted them–but not before the combined rights activists from Moscow and St Petersburg joined the Belarus activists to unfurl a big rainbow flag, about 8 meters long (25 feet), and carry it along one of the main streets for a short distance. A few other participants unfurled their own smaller flags so the dozens of reporters and photographers from local and international press could take photos and have short interviews. Read more details from Logan Mucha’s report.
May 19, 2010 – UK Gay News
Arrested, Beaten, Threatened, Jailed and Sent for Trial Just for Taking Part in Slavic Gay Pride … Yet PROUD of what we all accomplished in Minsk
by Sergey Yenin (probably the most dramatic 1,000 words written about a Gay Pride event anywhere in the world this year)
Minsk – This is an account of the most dramatic 48 hours in my life as a gay activist in Belarus. There were four of us in the taxi. Myself, Logan (and Australian filmmaker), Jack (his boyfriend) and Chad (a photographer working on a project Walk with Pride). I couldn’t help shivering in anticipation of the upcoming Pride march and the possible extreme few hours that I would probably face. But I couldn’t let my friends worry as well. The taxi driver noticed that something was really wrong with the place he had to drop us off.
“What’s going on here? Who are you?” – the taxi driver asked me. “Just tourists going to the hotel” – I responded. It was the place where the Pride was going to take place and was situated near a hotel. Logan prepared his camera and Jack took a paper notebook and a pen into his hands: “I hope I will look like a journalist,” he remarked.
Seven taxies stopped in the immediate area and participants of the Slavic Pride got out of the cars. The place was full of journalists ready for the action. Everything looked like a flash mob: we all walked along the street a bit and suddenly one of us took out a 12-meter rainbow flag out of his bag. Later, events passed by very quickly. A group of Russian guys took out smaller flags and posters, I grabbed the huge flag and everyone rushed ahead shouting out slogans: “Homophobia is a disease”, “Belarus free of homophobia” etc.
The journalists didn’t spend their time in vain: as soon as the notices the 12-meter flag were displayed, they turned on their cameras and aimed them at us. We stopped for a while near a Belarusian institute of arts, expanded the flag and continued shouting out our slogans. After a while we continued marching down the street. I noticed two journalists quarrelling because one of them occupied the other’s place for photo shooting and it made me smile. I suspect I had looked quite serious before.
Suddenly a police car full of big, severe guys stopped. The doors opened and an army of policemen rushed on us. Oleg and I lost control and started running back. Everything messed up in my head and I couldn’t understand where exactly I was running to. There was one aim: to run somewhere away from this massacre. Passing by one of the journalists I saw him throwing an egg at me. He missed, but it made me run faster. Two plain-clothes policemen were a real obstacle for me: I could figure out that these men were from the police only by a walkie-talkie stashed in a pocket of one of these guys. With great subtlety one of them hit my leg with his knee and threw me down on the ground.
When I was recovering my glasses, he grabbed my collar and dragged me behind him for a while. With a rapid move he picked me up and punched me hard in the chest. I can still remember his face during this heavy handed treatment: his eyes were full of anger and the mouth was deformed with a blush of hatred. At the same time he understood I was his target and I was maybe twice young as him. He wasn’t a human anymore…
Another guy grabbed my collar in order to prevent me from running away. Then I saw Oleg. He was suffering from pain caused by gastric ulcer he had. No one was paying attention to his suffering, all the police were concerned about was a way to take us to a police department. The mother of one of our activists quickly appeared in front of us and introduced herself as a doctor in order to lead us away from the threat. She was totally ignored and we were tossed into a police car.
We were sitting on the floor of the police department. I felt blood running down my arms. My shirt was tattered with dark red spots all over. I put myself together and made a statement that we needed an ambulance. Should I say that it’s obvious that the statement was ignored? Then the others were brought-in. My friends were thrown out of another police car and were forced to go inside the police department. They looked so fragile in comparison to huge clumsy policemen. The short walk was followed by kicks. I could do nothing but look at this happening. I felt so helpless.
The police then brought the 12-meter Rainbow flag in to the room. They put it on the floor and started mocking at us. One of my friends told me that while he was in the car the policemen were forcing a baton into his mouth and promised they would force it up his backside in case he tried sucking the baton. They then took us to another room for interrogation. We spent another two hours there. They were humiliating us all that time. One of them kept a gas balloon in front of my face saying: “I will fucking burn your eyes right now!” We were terrified. We couldn’t ever imagine the safest place in the world could be so insecure…
We were released on Monday. We were waiting for this moment eagerly all this time. Two nights in the police department seemed an eternity for us. So now when I’m free I can’t keep it to myself. I don’t appear to have any freedom of speech in my country, but I have the freedom on the internet.
01 November, 2010 – MSMGF
Mr Gay Europe Forum 2010
The second issue is devoted to international competition egoist gay beauty of Mr Gay Europe Forum 2010, as well as the International Festival of Queer Culture in Minsk.
03 December 2010 – Gay.by
New Candidate for President of Belarus Finds Discrimination Against Homosexuals Unacceptable
(Russian to English, Google translation)
Belarus – Presidential candidate Yaroslav Romanchuk answered questions from the editor Gay.by during the on-line conference on Radio Liberty. The first politician in Belarus to freely speak about the inadmissibility of discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Alexander Poluyan – Editor Gay.by :
Last time you made some statements that can be attributed to the positive to the gay-lesbian community in Belarus. In particular, your comment that the gay pride parade can bring arrived in the state treasury.
Site Gay.by survey was conducted as to who the representatives of the gay community would like to see the president and I must say that a quarter of the votes has been given to your support.
In this regard, I would like to ask you whether you are pleased that support gay-lesbian community and what specific steps you are ready to take on the gay-lesbian community, if you ever find yourself in power?
Before the law everyone is equal. Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is unacceptable. In the civilized world of the traditional family institution peacefully side by side with same-sex partnership. The policy should not climb into bed with the man. That’s right. Rallies and demonstrations – a constitutional right of every citizen. I will defend the constitutional principle of all citizens. In this case, no social group will not receive any budgetary support to promote their ideas and values. How much money will gather in support of his organization – as many will.
Are the "Christian values" fundamental to the secular state or all the same right and above the law? What would you say to politicians, talking about what a "Christian values" have no place sexual orientation.
Debate about the value complex. Require the provision of deployed positions. Any set of values – it’s an artificial choice and affixing priorities. The only correct attitude to different "sets" – tolerance and patience. Neither set of values should not be built on the principle of "Only we are right. We – the ultimate truth." Diversity and variety – it is an objective part of the world. It is dangerous to reduce it to some common code or set of values. The main thing that was freedom. Freedom can not exist without responsibility. Freedom can not exist without the property. In the definition of freedom – the three major limitations: the laws of anatomy, laws of nature and praxeology, that is, the science of the causes of human activity. For me the important value – "fairness." This performance rights of its voluntary commitments (promises) to others.
What in your opinion, as an economist, at the moment, stops the development of business in the gay industry?
I would not allocate segments of the economy on the basis of sexual orientation of people working there. Everyone equally annoying taxes, insanely complicated accounting, audit, high rental rates, insecurity of property rights, undeveloped financial markets, etc. Political and economic freedom – that is what solves the problems of entrepreneurship in general.
Read all the answers to questions may be on the site of Radio Liberty.
Yaroslav Romanchuk, born January 10, 1966, urban settlement Sopotskin, Grodno region, Grodno, Belarus.
Head of Research Center for Mises, the founder of Belarusian school of liberal sustainable development, the author of over a thousand articles and six books on economic topics, one of the developers of anti-crisis platforms United Democratic Forces.
Nominated for the president of the United Civic Party in the elections of 2011.
December 11, 2010 – Gay.by
Russian to English translation
"Sexual minorities in Belarus have their rights violated"–Slava Bortnik
Even in spite of the fact that in 1948 a representative of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic to refrain from adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (talking about the fact that he fell asleep during the vote), this important document remains the main hope for all whose rights are being violated today in our country. On the discrimination of sexual minorities in recent years have increasingly spoken of Belarusian human rights and LGBT organizations. Preachers point of view, the absence of sexual minorities in Belarus and that "none of their rights have not been violated," I want to reiterate the following. LGBT people do not demand for themselves some "special" or "extra rights" and are out to against them to observe all the rights enjoyed by heterosexuals.
Facts gathered by human rights activists suggest that the Belarusian LGBT people are denied (by law or in practice) in the basic civil, political, social and economic rights. Representatives of sexual minorities are not protected from discrimination because sexual orientation is excluded from the list of grounds on which discrimination is prohibited. The right to freedom from torture, cruel and inhuman treatment violated Belarusian militia, as well as in the investigation and imprisonment. The right to freedom of movement denied to same-sex couples because the state does not recognize such relationships.
Freedom to a fair trial is impossible not only because Belarus is not an independent court, but also because representatives of sexual minorities are more likely than other victims of prejudice judges and law enforcement officials. Violation of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of association proyalyaetsya that the Belarusian authorities have banned public rallies and sexual minorities are denied the registration of their organizations. The right to religious freedom is violated by a majority of churches operating in Belarus. Right to work is violated by employers that are arbitrarily and with impunity dismiss members of sexual minorities. Right to Social Security is seriously affected due to the fact that our country has banned gay marriage. Respectively violated the right to a family.
The right to health is in conflict discriminatory practices in health care, homophobia, the attending staff, lack of sexual education as well as with the general approach to the patient as clearly heterosexual. There are significant problems with adoption, the right to education, etc. It becomes clear why the Belarusian authorities are much more convenient to declare on every corner, that "sexual minorities have not here."
As the saying goes, ‘no man – no problem’.
December 14, 2010 – Gay.by
Russian to English translation
Presidential candidate Tereshchenko sees no homophobia in Belarus
The next guest of Radio Liberty website has become presidential candidate Viktor Tereshchenko, who responded to questions asked by the editor Gay.by Aleksandr Poluyan.
Alexander Poluyan: First What is your position on equal rights of LGBT citizens?
Viktor Tereshchenko: I do not think that the current law in any way infringes the rights of LGTB.
Alexander Poluyan: What concrete steps are you willing to take in relation to support gay-lesbian community, if you ever find yourself in power?
Viktor Tereshchenko: I see no reason not to support or discourage gay-lesbian communities. Sexual orientation is an intimate sphere, which regulate in any way I can not see the point.
Alexander Poluyan: Can you say that homophobia exists in Belarus?
Viktor Tereshchenko: I have not had occasion to observe the manifestations of homophobia in Belarus. Belarusians are tolerant people. But if people are gay sometimes uncomfortable, the reason for this is that they are in the minority. This is natural. It is a clash of personality and how it perceives the society, rather than conflict societies and the whole class of people – in Belarus.
Alexander Poluyan: What would you do if your son / daughter was / she gay / lesbian? (Let’s imagine this scenario)
Viktor Tereshchenko: I would be a bad father, if I deprived the children’s right to be themselves.
Alexander Poluyan: Do you support gay marriage initiatives? And if the "before" or "no", why not?
Viktor Tereshchenko: This is the right of adults.
December 20, 2010 – Gay.by
Google Russian to English translation
Activist Sergei Androsenko sues government for unconstitutional action
The head of a human rights project "GayBelarus" Androsenko asked on November 2 in the Leninsky district court in Minsk with a claim for compensation for moral damage caused by the Presidential Administration. Gay activists and human rights activist asks to recover from the Office of the President of the Republic of Belarus in its favor 10 million rubles. Cause of action became President of the Republic of Belarus ? 60 "On measures to improve the use of the national segment of Internet", which entered into force July 1, 2010. According to gay and human rights activists this decree violates the Constitution of Belarus and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the limits of his freedom.
Activist believes that the Part 1 and Part 3, Clause 6 of the Decree number 60 to violate his right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, arbitrary or unlawful interference in the correspondence. November 8 Leninsky district court told the activist that the institution of proceedings should be denied, by virtue of paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Art. 245 HPA Republic of Belarus due to the fact that the application is not subject to review by the courts to force nepodvedomstvennosti.
The refusal of the court noted that the existing legislation does not provide an appeal of the Decree of President of Belarus in court. Sergei Androsenko sent a special appeal to the court of Leninsky district of Minsk on November 8, 2010. "Now I have even more reason for concern. I think the totalitarian decree number 60, which obliges the state to totally follow the Belarusian Internet users, and now the judicial system still says I can not appeal against the decree in court because the court has no right "This is the authoritarian state system, where courts are not objectively consider the political affairs. It just, unfortunately, it is known which side will be the solution" – believes human rights activist and gay activist Sergei Androsenko.