A new project of the Swedish-Belarusian-Ukrainian Rainbow Culture Cooperation started

Submitted by Viachaslau Bortnik

Tupilak, a Nordic organization of LGBT cultural workers, starts a new international project in April thanks to support from the Swedish Institute. Queer culture events are planned in Kiev, Stockholm and Minsk. Principal partners of the project includes GayBelarus and Insight, Ukraine.

The situations in both Ukraine and Belarus for LGBT rights have worsened. The Ukrainian ban on positive information about homosexuality -- long only in parliamentary discussions but now a grim reality -- making working with LGBT questions even more difficult and delicate. Recent police raids on Belarus LGBT meeting places has spread a great deal of fear, driven new comers back into the "closet" and increase the feeling of isolation in a society already very homophobic, with even human rights organizations reluctant to make contact with LGBT groups."The idea of having conferences and mini-festivals in Minsk and Kiev came through desires to have events for larger audiences at home for those unable to travel to international events, and to have meeting in Sweden where visiting Ukrainians and Belarus could also meet with representatives of different LGBT groups working with different questions and Swedish NGOs willing to support LGBT rights as examples of what NGOs could do in their home countries," said Viachaslau Bortnik, one of the project coordinators from Belarus. Problems to be solved in the different planned seminars includes underlining the importance of opening activities and cultural events to ALL members of the LGBT communities -- women as well as men, the elderly as well as the young, HIV positive and others with disabilities, transgender persons, immigrants and refugees, etc. -- groups sometimes ignored by a tiny group of male-dominated fighting for survival in homophobic conditions. The events in Minsk and Kiev will be designed to attract LGBT persons and others interested in obtaining information about LGBT rights and to observe art and photography, hear music and see performances -- helping to combat media and politician's repeated statements and accusations that the LGBT communities contribute nothing to society, are criminals and threats of moral and national standards."The events are expected to result in a greater confidence among the partners organizations in meeting the public, other organizations and the media -- hopefully convincing the fearful of the advantage of facing critics instead of hiding in the closet. Another result would be to convince other NGOs and the media that the LGBT communities in the partner countries have friends and allies in Sweden where LGBT rights are neither controversial or subversive and instead confirm rather than detract from the building of a modern, democratic society," said Bill Schiller of Tupilak.Major project activities will take place during Pride events in Kiev (May), Stockholm (August) and Minsk (October). For further information please contact Viachaslau Bortnik at amnesty_by@gmx.net

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