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Belarus President Lukashenko
State Homophobia in Belarus

in BELARUS, 07/02/2005

Belarusian government begins anti-gay campaign linking homosexuality to drugs and foreign influence

“… we have to show our society in the near future, what ‘they’ (the European Union and the United States) are doing here, how they are trying to turn our girls into prostitutes, how they are feeding our citizens with illicit drugs, how they are spreading sexual perversion here, which methods they are employing.”

- Aleksandr Lukasheko, President of Belarus in a meeting of the Belarusian Security Council.

Only two days after making this speech, a “non-official” gay-demonization campaign began in earnest here in Belarus. The first step was the expulsion of a German embassy worker, being a foreign diplomat he could not be taken into custody, but his Belarusian boyfriend was arrested on the false pretext of drug use. The story was commented on at length on government-controlled national TV with a lot of homophobic rhetoric. It appears that the point of the story was to link homosexuality and drug usage as evils coming from the European Union, the United States, and the “West” in general.

Another example of the campaign followed a week later when a diplomat from the Czech republic was expelled from the country. In an attempt to accuse the embassy worker of paedophilia, national TV showed pictures of him in Minsk kissing other young men – who they claimed were boys younger than 14 years old. Of course this was ridiculous – to the general public as well - because the “boys” they showed were obviously more around 20 years of age than 14. This I can attest to myself, as I personally know many of the “boys” pictured.

Yet the biggest shock for me was to see my own face and pictures flashed across the evening news. After a nice meal with my mother on a Sunday night in Gomel we sat down to watch TV. Following the story about the Czech diplomat, they opened an exposé on unofficial gay weddings taking place here in Gomel. To my surprise, the images they used during the story were taken directly from my website, and featured me participating in the marriage ceremonies. Besides the fact that that night I was outed to my mother and a few other friends who did not know that I am gay, the fact that they used the articles and pictures from my website without my permission just demonstrates how clearly we live in a state whose government doesn’t respect the law.
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