Belarusian TV openly shows homosexual act between foreign diplomat and his boyfriend

Submitted by Svyatoslav Sementsov

In the evening of 30 July 2006, the Belarusian national TV has openly
shown homosexual act between the 2nd Secretary of the Latvian Embassy
to Belarus Reimo Smits and another man naming it "a dirty homosexual
orgy". The diplomat was named "pervert" and "porno dealer".

A report covering a probe recently launched into a Latvian embassy
official accused of disseminating porn materials contained a short
film showing two men having sex with each other. His identity was
disclosed during the TV program, which said that the images had been
recorded "in the flat of the diplomat Reimo Smits".

A criminal case was filed against the diplomat on charges of
distributing pornographic materials, Belarusian Interior Minister
Vladimir Naumov told journalists on 28 July in Minsk. "Porn materials
were confiscated from him," the official said.

The police obtained information that the diplomat "was involved in the
activity for a long time. However, it was difficult to establish his
identity before," Naumov said, adding that the man has not been placed
under arrest.

On 25 July, representatives of the Belarusian secret services stormed
the apartment of the Latvian diplomat in Minsk and carried out a
search there. They seized some of his possessions including video
materials. According to the Latvian Foreign Ministry, those
videocassettes had footage of six-year-old Belarusian news spots. It
is not a secret material, and the diplomat cannot be charged even with

"To say that the cassettes seized by policemen whose visit lasted for
10-15 minutes, had porn materials is senseless, as it cannot be
proved. Even if these cassettes had porn materials, it is too
insignificant pretext for breaching international commitments of
Belarus and causing a great international scandal," said Svyatoslav
Sementsov, Belarusian LGBT activist.
Belarusian secret services established the latent microphones and
video cameras in an apartment of the diplomat, in infringement of the
international norms and local legislation. Similar illegal methods
have been used in the cases with the Czech attaché in January 2005,
and the 2nd secretary of German embassy in October 2004.
During a TV program the references to political opposition have been
constantly made. For example they showed footage of the protests on
the October Square in Minsk after the presidential elections. It is
obvious, that authorities again used extremely homophobic moods in a
society to downturn of a rating of opposition.

Belarusian TV has being often used by the government to denounce
"plots" organized by foreign diplomats to change the regime. The
government-controlled media also tries to smear the opposition by
associating it with homosexuality. Their homophobic reports
demonstrate that negative attitudes towards homosexuals exist at the
highest levels of government.

"Although homosexuality is not a criminal offense in Belarus,
homophobia is widespread and instances of harassment occurred in all
spheres of society," said Viachaslau Bortnik, Chair of Amnesty
International Belarus.

Svyatoslav Sementsov
co-presedent of TEMA

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