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European Commission Closely Monitors Gay and Transgender Rights in Belarus, Top Official Says
 

 

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■ Belarus gay activist Sergey Androsenko.
photo courtesy Pride.by
   

MINSK, December 31, 2008 (GayRussia.ru)  –  Democracy and respect for human rights are the core elements in European Union contacts with the Belarusian authorities, a Belarusian Gay activist has been told.

In November, Sergey Androsenko, a 20 years-old Belarusian gay activist, wrote a letter to the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, asking that the EU includes human rights – and gay human rights – in its discussions with the Belarusian government.

It was Mr Androsenko who, last April, raised a large rainbow flag in Minsk during the annual march for the remembrance of the victims of Chernobyl. Two months ago, he led a group of 20 activists in a spontaneous – but unauthorised – “rainbow flag” march through the centre of the capital.

In his letter dated November 18, Mr Androsenko emphasised that the situation of sexual minorities has made no progress since homosexuality was decriminalised in Belarus.

“The EU must impose Human Rights in its discussions with our country,” he wrote ,pointing out the EU had lifted the travel ban imposed on Belarusian officials the previous month.

“Our public peaceful actions are always banned by the authorities without any valid reason,”, he told Mr. Barroso.

A reply has been received from John Kjaer, the head of the Directorate for Eastern Europe at the European Commission.

“Democracy and respect for human rights are, and will continue to be, the core elements in our contacts with the Belarusian authorities,” Mr. Kjaer insisted.

“Progress with regards to freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of speech is particularly important,” he added.

“The partial and conditional suspension of sanctions and the resumption of ministerial talks that stem from the 13 October Council conclusions and that you refer to in your letter, allow us to convey in a more direct manner our message on what we expect from Belarus in terms of progress towards democratisation, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

“We will continue to follow closely the situation in Belarus, including on the matters that you have raised,” Mr Kjaer promised.

Pressure on Belarusian authorities have intensified over the last few weeks.

In November, Mr Androsenko was received at the French Embassy in Minsk where he delivered a letter to the French Presidency of the EU.

Then, earlier this month, three Members of the European Parliament asked the European Commission to raise gay rights with the Belarusian authorities.

■ Russian and Belarusian activists have agreed to conduct an annual Slavic Gay Pride every May. The first ‘edition’ will take place in Moscow in May 2009 during the Eurovision final.

SEE ALSO

Rainbow Flag Paraded in Minsk for First Time as Gays Join March for Chernobyl Victims.  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.  (UK Gay News, April 26, 2008)

Belarusians More Tolerant to Sexual Minorities than Russians?  The ‘unification seminar’ between Russian and Belarusian gay activists in Minsk last weekend – and the announcement of the creation of the Slavic Gay Pride movement with its first march on May 16 next year in Moscow – has provoked reaction not only in Russia but also in Belarus.  (UK Gay News, November 20, 2008)

Gay Activists Discuss Homosexuality with Homophobic Far Right Groups. Three of the leading gay rights activists in Belarus came face to face with representatives of the ‘far right’ at a seminar in Minsk yesterday.  (UK Gay News, November 19, 2008)

Belarusian, Russian Activists Agree a Slavic Gay Pride for Moscow in May Next Year.  The first trans-national meeting of gay activists from Russia and Belarus has agreed that there should be a Slavic Gay Pride, which alternates each year between Moscow and Minsk.  Gay Activists Discuss Homosexuality with Homophobic Far Right Groups. Three of the leading gay rights activists in Belarus came face to face with representatives of the ‘far right’ at a seminar in Minsk yesterday.  (UK Gay News, November 17, 2008)
 

 

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Posted: 31 December 2008 at 15:00 (UK time)

   
             
       

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