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LGTB activists to Interior: We will pass because we pose no threat

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Photo: Daily Political View 

An ambiguous statement concerning same-sex marriage appeared on the website of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs on 20 May. It said that Belarus was a country of traditional values and that the rest ‘would not pass’. The statement was the Interior's reaction to the rainbow flag that the UK embassy in Minsk had flown on the International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May.

 

What is it like ‘to be out’ in a country where the police permit themselves to announce that your values and your life are a fake? Euroradio has asked LGTB activists about it. 

Nasta Mantsevich, 35: The MIA’s statement insulted and scared me

Photo: Mila Ivanouskaya

The MIA’s statement insulted and scared me. If I see such statements on the official website of a Ministry, I perceive it as the official position of the institution. This institution is supposed to care about citizens’ safety. That is why, being an LGTB member, I do not know what it means for me as a Belarusian citizen. I perceive it as a threat and do not know what the consequences may be.

I also do not understand why the MIA is discussing traditional values on its website. Furthermore, I think that they are arousing hostility in the Belarusian society by opposing LGTB members to Christians. A person’s faith has nothing to do with their sexual and gender identity. There are a lot of Christians in the LGTB community.

The phrase ‘They will not pass’ scares me. I am 35 years old and I am a Belarusian. I live in Belarus. What does ‘They will not pass’ mean? Does it mean that my status is illegal because of my sexual identity? This is an unacceptable statement and I would like the MIA to delete it from their website.

I was robbed once. I went to the police expecting them to defend me in that situation. Policemen found the robbers and protected me. This is the behaviour I expect from the institution that is supposed to care about citizens’ safety instead of arousing hostility and threatening people. 

Andrei Zavalei, 28: Love cannot be a fake

Photo: social networks

When I hear such statements from officials, I feel defective. It is very insulting.

They are accusing us of ‘upholding our rights aggressively’… It is funny to hear it. They are writing about exclusive rights for heterosexuals in Belarus and then say that we demand some special rights. We do not want any special rights for anyone, we want real equality.

Love cannot be a fake. This feeling cannot be taken away from a human being, it testifies to human dignity. The Belarusian LGTB community lives in constant fear, LGTB people cannot show their affection and cannot reveal their identity. This is scary. Our ‘aggressive struggle’ is only about the right to live, the right be in this country without facing the disrespect they are showing.

Some victims of homophobic attacks went to the police to only face this disrespect. They were forced to experience their dramatic situations again. Many of them avoid complaining to the police because it is traumatic. Naturally, there are adequate people in the MIA and other institutions because there are good people everywhere. But the system does not allow this sympathy and mutual understanding.

I think that I will pass because I bear no malice. I am only speaking about respect and Belarusian citizens’ rights – all should have the same obligations and should be equally protected.