Openly Gay Activist and Website Editor Called-Up for Military Service in Homophobic Army

23/01/2009
Submitted by GayRussia.Ru, UkGayNews.Org.Uk

The editor-in-chief of the largest and most popular LGBT website in Belarus, Gay.by, has been “called-up” for military service.

And in an email to GayRussia.ru, members of the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality, have expressed their anxiety.

Alexander Paluyan, who is 23, has previously been exempt from conscription because for medical reasons.

He has received an official paper to go to the military department in Mozyr (320 km from Minsk, not far from Ukraine border) on January 9 when the authorities will confirm his medical exemption or set a date for the start of his conscription.

But, with the number of conscripts down this year, the Belarusian authorities are believed to now be “calling up” those who have previously been medically exempt.

As a leading gay activist, Mr. Paluyan could face a very difficult eighteen months in the largely homophobic military, fellow activists say.

“We are anxious for the physical and psychological health of our friend, colleague and activist.

“We want to stand against disrespect, violence, and rudeness, which he can come across in the Belarusian army” said the activists in their email.

In addition to Mr. Paluyan, another gay activist has been called-up. His identity is not being revealed.

Activists in Belarus, whose membership of the Council of Europe has been suspended as the country does not meet the European human rights standards, point to the fact that there has been considerable “gay rights” activity in Minsk over the past year.

And Belarus often uses the “trick” to call-up dissidents of the Lukashenko regime for military service, the activists say.

The Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality applied to the local authorities of Mozyr for the permission to conduct a demonstration in front of the local military department on January 12. Application was made on December 30.

Activists explained that their planned demonstration wants to attract the attention of the Belarusian authorities to the conditions of homosexuals in the army.

“Until the level of homophobia in the Belarusian army is decreased, open gays should not be required to serve,” said Sergey Androsenko, spokesperson for the organisation.

“Violence against gays in the army has always been important. It’s time to raise this question in Belarus.

“It is not safe for openly gay persons to be called-up for military duties” concluded Mr Androsenko.




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