LGBT rights activists, for the first time, appealing to courts to defend their constitutional right

23/02/2009
Submitted by Viachaslau Bortnik, Belarusian LGBT Network

On February, 17th, Belarusian LGBT activist Roman Mandrykin filed a complaint in the Court of the Central Borough of Gomel in response to the decision of the Gomel City Administration to deny his request to hold a peaceful gathering. The event, entitled “The Right To Love” was planned for February 12th and was designed to raise public awareness about homophobia and discrimination against LGBT people in Belarus. In the text of the complaint, Mr. Mandrykin claims that the decision of the Gomel City Administration violated his right to the Freedom of Assembly, as guaranteed by Article 35 of the Constitution of Belarus. He maintains that the local regulation, Regulation 299, is itself unconstitutional in that it imposes unreasonable burdens on those seeking to organize public gatherings.

Background
On January 10th, Belarusian LGBT activists Viachaslau Bortnik, Olga Dimitryuk and Roman Mandrykin applied for permission to organize a public gathering in Gomel focused on the treatment of LGBT people in Belarus. The event was to take place in the city’s Central Square and was to include the distribution of educational materials on the subjects of homophobia and discrimination. As part of the application, the organizers agreed to be responsible for public order and safety, to ensure onsite access to medical services and to clean the area after the event. After the submission of this request, Roman Mandrykin was pressured to remove his name from the application by the administration of his school, Gomel State University. Mandrykin refused to remove his name from the application.

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. A similar application was submitted to the authorities in Minsk and this permission was also denied.

The organizers intend to pursue this claim until it is resolved and hope to be able to organize a gathering next year. "It was important for us to get an official decision of the authorities to understand the current attitude towards LGBT rights Some are calling this time period "Belarusian Warming” under the belief that the government is becoming more open to individual rights but these decisions don’t support that belief. From the very beginning we did not have much hope to receive a positive answer but the decisions of the Gomel and Minsk City Administrations proved that it is too early to talk about any kind of democratization in the country” said Viachaslau Bortnik.

We ask you and your organization help us in this historical case for Belarus, as a last dictatorship in Europe, to sign petition below. PLEASE fill missed parts, print it, sign and send hard copy to the Ministry by regular post. According to Belarusian law, ONLY signed hard copy of letters can be accepted by officials.


[ YOUR (or your organization's) NAME AND POSTAL ADDRESS ]

Ministry of Justice of Belarus
10 Kollectornaya st.
220004 Minsk
BELARUS
To the Minister Viktor Golovanov:

On January 10th, Belarusian LGBT activists Viachaslau Bortnik, Olga Dimitryuk and Roman Mandrykin applied for permission to organize a public gathering in Gomel focused on the treatment of LGBT people in Belarus. The event, entitled "The Right To Love" was planned for February 12th and was designed to raise public awareness about homophobia and discrimination against LGBT people in Belarus. This event was to take place in the city's Central Square and was to include the distribution of educational materials on the subjects of homophobia and discrimination. As part of the application, the organizers agreed to be responsible for public order and safety, to ensure onsite access to medical services and to clean the area after the event.

On February, 6, Organizers got official answer from Gomel City Administration singed by Chairman, which refers to the prohibition of public gathering.

On February, 17th, Belarusian LGBT activist Roman Mandrykin filed a complaint in the Court of the Central Borough of Gomel in response to the decision of the Gomel City Administration to deny his request to hold a peaceful gathering.

We ask you Mr. Golovanov, as a head of Ministry of Justice of Belarus, to use legal tools to control the legality and transparency of this case in Court of the Central Borough of Gomel, to protect civil right for a peaceful gathering.

Sincerely,

[ SIGN HERE ]

Also you can send copy to Belarusian embassy (http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-of/Belarus) in your country or nearest country. Thank you for you support, please keep us informed about any answer witch you'll get from Ministry or Embassy.

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