U.S. State Department's 2009 Human Rights Report: Belarus

Submitted by Viachaslau Bortnik

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 11, 2010

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Homosexuality is not illegal, but discrimination against members of the LGBT community was widespread, and harassment occurred. According to a local LGBT rights group, government-controlled media discouraged participation in the protests following the 2006 presidential election by saying they were part of a "gay revolution."

In February Homyel authorities denied local gay activists permission to hold a "Right to Love" event on February 12 in which they planned to distribute educational materials and raise public awareness about homophobia and discrimination against homosexuals. A similar request submitted to the Minsk authorities was also denied.

On July 22, Syarhei Androsenka, the head of the GayBelarus project, announced that Belarus customs officials had seized 25 copies of a gay interest magazine that were mailed to him. Officials claimed that they seized the publication because it was not registered in the country.

In the early morning of August 24, following a dispute at a bar, unknown persons followed and assaulted gay rights activist Maksim Tsarkou. During the assault the assailants cursed at the victim and shouted homophobic slurs.

On September 23, the KGB in Homyel informed local gay rights activist Svyataslau Semyantsou that they had opened a criminal case against him for participating in activities of an unregistered group. The KGB also threatened Semyantsou with charges of providing defamatory and discrediting information to a foreign source.

On December 17, a court in Minsk fined LGBT community activist Alyaksandr Gagaryn BYR 105,000 ($35) for participating in an unsanctioned picket in front of the Iranian embassy. The activists demonstrated to protest the capital punishment against LGBT persons in Iran. Police fined Syarhei Androsenka BYR 875,000 ($300) and Syarhei Pradzed BYR 350,000($120) on December 23 for their participation in the same protest.


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