Gay Parade in Minsk won't be allowed. Is it really so ?

Submitted by Aliaksandr Paluyan, GAY.BY

Next year gay parade is planned to be held in Minsk. Some public figures already state that the authorities won't let such an event happen. Orthodox Christians are categorically against such a parade. Nevertheless some gay-activists are sure that gay-parade will take place in the Belarusian capital. What are the chances of such an activity and what are the problems that both the opponents might face? These issues we have tried to analyze in this material.

The idea of making a gay parade has been in the air for three years. It happened when new activists appeared in Belarusian gay society and new initiative groups of gays and lesbians were formed. Belarusians got their experience of participating in gay parade this May when Belarusian delegation took part in “gay parade” in Moscow which was dispersed by Moscow police.

The activists of “GayBelarus” movement claim that gay parade in Minsk will take place. It is still much time before the planned date while the public figures have already begun to raise this question.

According to Belarusian orthodox information portal Sobor.By , «orthodox» psychotherapist, psychiatrist Sergei Tsvirko is sure that the statement of the Belarusian sexual minorities about the fact that the coming gay parade in Minsk won't cause the negative reaction of the majority of Belarusians is groundless as “ it is really hard to say how much Belarusians are exposed to homophobia”.

Sergei Tsvirko doubted the fact that the level of homophobia in Belarus is low. So the statements of gay parade organizers are groundless as it is hard to say how much Belarusians are exposed to homophobia. Such a commentary can be regarded differently. It can be understood in such a way that the level of homophobia in Belarus is high and that he confirms that. Yet Sergei Tsvirko has no doubts that there are people in Belarus who can stand up against gays and lesbians. «There can be find people in the republic that could show their protest to a gay action» - quotes the words of the psychotherapist. Though in opinion of Sergei Tsvirko, «the situation won't go as far as to the demonstrations as the authorities won't probably let sexual minorities parade happen in Minsk ».

There is no doubt that homophobia exists in the country. It is proved by the periodic attacks on gays and lesbians and by the ban for mass informational actions at any excuses. Sergei Tsvirko is right about one thing that the level of homophobia among the Belarusian population is unknown, yet such a survey is planned to be held in the nearest future. At the moment there are some data about the attitude to gays and lesbians which are based on the surveys of some sites. According to the survey results made by the biggest Belarusian portal TUT.BY, about 36% of interviewees showed a negative attitude to people with another sexual orientation, 16% of people said with confidence that their attitude to gays and lesbians is positive, about 25% showed a neutral attitude and 23% said that «don't have any attitude with gays». There were 1100 people who participated in the survey.

How will the authorities react if there comes an application to the Minsk City Executive Committee with a request to arrange a gay parade in Minsk ? There are many possible variants, but there is one variant which is more distinctive. Such an activity can be simply forbidden at any suitable reason. Though if we take the issue of democratization of Belarus in the eyes of Europe we should say that the decision to forbid a widely advertised gay parade can shake the plan of rapprochement of Europe with our country.

Are the Belarusian authorities ready to ban a gay parade in Minsk ? Are they ready to listen to one group of orthodox Christians and to shake the democracy principles regarding the group of homosexuals? This will become clear at the beginning of the next year. But it can be said even now that this decision won't be an easy one.

«I think that the arrangement of gay parade in Minsk is untimely» - says Alexander Poluyan, an activist of Belarusian initiative for sexual and gender equality - «but if there are people who wish to arrange it, they have a right to do that. Every person has a right to express him or herself and we must respect this right . The point is different . What results might such an action have ? It may cause the positive consequences which mean the improving of the attitude towards homosexuals in the country . But it may also lead to the splash of violence against gays and lesbians and increase of homophobia in the society . If I were an organizer I would think thoroughly over this matter».

The position of the Belarusian opposition also remains vague. The representatives of some political parties showed a very negative attitude towards homosexuals. The statements of pro-European representatives about the fact that gays and lesbians must live in a reservation and that they don't have a place in a new free Belarus raised many questions from different European structures. We will find out later if the opposition comes to a united position with this matter or if it splits into various groups. But we can guess that those of them who don't want to spoil their relations with the European donors and structure will probably be for gay parade or just will abstain.

Nevertheless the organizers of gay parade are rather categorical. And if there is a refusal or social echo they might follow the example of Moscow and to arrange the parade anyway. But the time will show whether it will be a real gay parade or just a 3-minute show for video and photo cameras…

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