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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 43
Defiant activists hold pride in Minsk, Belarus
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Defiant activists hold pride in Minsk, Belarus

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Twenty hardy LGBT activists staged a Pride march in Minsk, Belarus, in defiance of an official ban on Pride activities.

The activists marched about 40 meters, less than half a football field, along a busy street in a southeastern suburb of Belarus' capital city, on Saturday, October 22.

The march lasted about 10 minutes, with no police reported at the scene.

The real achievement was not the length of the march, however, but the fact that it happened at all.

Last year's Pride marchers were all arrested by police after briefly displaying a rainbow flag in downtown Minsk.

Like last year, the 2011 Pride march was also banned by authorities.

Ihar Karpenka, deputy chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee, turned down the organizers' application for a march permit, saying that the proposed site was less than 50 meters away from 'facilities that are of vital importance to the local community.'

Karpenka claimed that the march would cause disruption to 'pedestrian and even vehicle traffic.'

'As you can see, the march has not disturbed a single driver or pedestrian,' Pride organizer Syarhey Androsenka said.

Androsenka added that he is not ashamed to be Gay. Gay people should have the same rights as other citizens of Belarus and should not be subjected to discrimination, he said.

March organizers said that a mysterious letter had been circulated in the week before Pride, purporting to be from the 'Ideological Department of Minsk City Executive Committee.'

The letter asks Minsk 'citizens to be vigilant' during the Pride march and to hide their children 'because many Gay men are alcoholics, drug addicts, and pedophiles.'

The letter advises residents to 'not leave unattended children outside the home in the dark.'

The letter was reportedly very widely distributed, posted on public bulletin boards outside blocks of flats.

Belarus, one of the countries that emerged in 1990 from the wreckage of the former Soviet Union, has become increasingly authoritarian - and increasingly homophobic - under the leadership of President Alexander Lukashenko.

In 2004 Lukashenko charged that the United States and the European Union were trying to undermine Belarus' security by 'spreading sexual perversion.'

Same-sex relations were legalized in 1994, but LGBT Belarussians are still subject to legal discrimination.

Belarus police are reportedly very slow to investigate and prosecute crimes against LGBT people.

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