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Rainbow Flag Paraded in Minsk for First Time as Gays Join March for Chernobyl Victims




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■  The Rainbow Flag publicly paraded this afternoon for the first time in Belarus .
photo courtesy TEMA

MINSK, April 26, 2008  –  When Sergey Androsenko, the 19 year-old leader of the Gay Youth Association in Belarus, paraded the gay “Rainbow Flag” through the streets of Minsk this afternoon, a little piece of LGBT history was made.

It was the very first time that the flag had been seen on a political event in Belarus [video of the march at end of article].

Gay men and women joined the rally and march, staged to mark the 22nd anniversary of the nuclear power station accident at Chernobyl in neighbouring Ukraine.

The crowd, which reached more than 1,000, started gathering at the square in front of the National Academy of Sciences at 2 pm for a short rally followed, with speeches by leaders of the political opposition.

With the promise of protection from the rest of the participants, the young Mr. Androsenko raised the Rainbow Flag and paraded it on the 2-mile march to a church built to commemorate Chernobyl victims at the intersection between Arlowskaya and Karastayanavay Streets.

Sergey Androsenko, the  leader of the Gay Youth Association in Belarus.
photo courtesy

He was accompanied by other gays – all were totally surrounded by their “protectors”.

The march was not on the street itself, but along the sidewalks, taking more than two hours to reach its destination.

But at one stage, some 100 youths separated from the crowd and briefly entered the roadway before organisers intervened and managed to talk them into returning to the sidewalks – the only incident of the day.

After reaching the church, the crowd observed a minute of silence for those who died of illnesses caused by the Chernobyl nuclear fallout and laid flowers at a monument commemorating the victims.

The demonstrators started dispersing shortly afterward.

“Police did not interfere and no arrests were reported,” said Svyatoslav Sementsov, the co-president of the TEMA LGBT group.

“[Today] will definitely become a part of Belarusian LGBT history as a date of beginning of cooperation between civil society and LGBT movement – and a date of pride when LGBT activists didn’t worry about becoming visible.” 



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Posted: 26 April 2008 at 22:00 (UK time)





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