LGBT in Belarus: Developments in 2010-2011

10/03/2011
Submitted by Viachaslau Bortnik

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2010

Societal attitudes
According to Vitali Silitski of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), 62% of Belarusians believes that homosexuals should be criminally persecuted. Dr. Silitski cited the results of the poll conducted by BISS and NOVAK in the beginning of 2010. According to Lambda Belarus survey conducted in April 2002, 47% of Belarusians believed that gays should be imprisoned.

Lukashenka on sexual minorities
In December, addressing All-Belarusian Peoples Assembly in Minsk Lukashenka proclaimed that there is no sexual minorities in Belarus.

Homophobia of democratic opposition
On May 17, members of the Young Front and the Right Alliance attempted to disturb Music for Love, a concert organized my Belarusian LGBT activists to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia.

On September 22, for the first time ever the Belarusian State TV aired the program where they criticized the Young Front for being homophobes.

Homophobia in media
Two more journalists had been added to the Black List of Belarusian Homophobes conducted by GayBelarus. Yuri Bestvitski of the pro-governmental “Respublika” published article full of homophobic remarks just before the Slavic Pride in May 2010. Vasily Semashko of BelaPAN, independent news agency used his media accreditation to find out about the starting point of the march that was kept in secret to avoid clashes with neo-fascist groups. He threw eggs into the participants of gay march and verbally assaulted them.

In December, state-owned TV Channel 1 showed a documentary about one of the presidential candidates. His headquarters was pictured as a gang of homosexuals, pedophiles, drug dealers and cons.

Hate Crimes
In Gomel, Sovetski borough police refused F. and P. to start investigation into the case of the violent attack on them motivated by homophobia. On April 4, two gay men had been badly beaten by a group of men whom they visually knew before. F. received serious head and body injuries. According to the colonel A. Adamenko, there was no enough evidence that the actions of attackers constitute a crime.

On August 15, Andrei Begun, one of the leaders of the Young Social Democrats was brutally beaten in Mogilev. Homophobes broke his arm. He tried to protect his friend and party fellow Yaroslav who was beaten earlier. Young men called the police that arrived too late – homophobes had already vanished.

In November, Partizanski borough police started a criminal case against two citizens of Minsk who violently attacked a 19 year-old man. According to police press secretary, attackers were drunk and didn’t like the way their victim was dressed up.

In December, Zavodskoi borough police started a criminal case against two citizens of Minsk who violently attacked a 19 year-old man from Sosny, Minsk region. Young man was badly beaten and mugged. Attackers didn’t like the way he walked.

On December 19, Varvara Krasutskaya, one of the leaders of IDAHO Belarus was violently beaten by the special police in the city center of Minsk. Varvara participated in peaceful demonstration against election fraud. She was run to the hospital with serious head injury.

Slavic Pride 2010
On May 15, despite the ban, Belarusian and Russian LGBT activists proudly paraded through Minsk with a giant rainbow flag, demonstrating against homophobia. Seven people were arrested and detained over the weekend and fined for having taken part in a non-authorized demonstration. Several events were also organized around the Slavic Pride including parties, exhibitions, a press conference and seminars as well as the first screening in a post Soviet country of the movie “Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride” by Bob Christie.
International organizations including Amnesty International and ILGA-Europe condemned the governmental ban of the Slavic Pride.

Labrys successes
Labrys, comparatively young and the only lesbian group in Belarus has organized a number of successful events including 17 Days of Spring Against Homophobia (May 1-17), National Day of Silence (April 16), and a Coming Out Week (October 11-13).

Transgender persons
It was reported that 6 sex reassignment surgeries had been performed in the first six months of 2010.

Cooperation with Rainbow Rose
Viachaslau Bortnik of the Belarusian Young Social Democrats took part in the Rainbow Rose conference in Warsaw on July 15, on SDPL invitation.
Lukasz Palucki of SDPL participated in the International Festival of LGBT Culture in Minsk, from September 10-12. As part of the visit he met leaders of the Belarusian Young Social Democrats on September 11.

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2011

The first authorized LGBT event
On February 14, activists of IDAHO Belarus held the first public event authorized by the City authorities in Minsk in the last 12 years. The action which took place in the park near the Ministry of Justice aimed to condemn homophobia and to call for equal rights for gays and lesbians. No incidents were reported during the rally which was protected by several police officers and covered by two dozens of journalists.

Lukashenka’s hate speech
On February 19, Lukashenka told to media that he “condemned faggotism”.

“Some great politicians, with both traditional and non-traditional sexual orientation, came to us. I was blamed for condemning this faggotism. Well, I don’t like gays, so I said that I didn’t like them. You see, certain foreign ministers took offence at me. But why should they take offence?” Lukashenka told journalists meaning a visit by Westerwelle and Sikorski in autumn 2010.

“I said that honestly to his face. One should live a normal live,” he added.

According to Lukashenka, “It’s possible in Germany and in Poland, so let them do it in these countries.” “We do not need this here,” added Belarusian president admitting, “Unfortunately, we have enough of this here, too.”

Festival and March for Equality
On March 4, activists of IDAHO Belarus filed an application to Minsk city executive committee for the March for Equality, timed to coincide with International Day Against Homophobia on May 17. This march will be held in the framework of the Festival of Equality, which IDAHO Belarus plans to hold from May 14-17. For more information please contact idahobelarus@gmail.com.

Minsk Gay Pride 2011
Minsk Gay Pride events are scheduled for June 09-12 with manifestation on June 11.

Prepared by Viachaslau Bortnik, Volunteers without Borders, Belarus



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