Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hundreds Participate in Minsk, Belarus Gay Rights Conference – Resolution on LGBT Rights in Belarus Adopted

Last Saturday 26 September, Minsk leading 5 star hotel Crowne Plaza hosted the largest ever LGBT conference in Belarus history. According to a diplomat who attended the event, “this hotel is known as the last place where a little bit of freedom is possible”.

Over 100 participants attended one day event, “LGBT Movement and NGOs: Prospects for Cooperation with active civil society to overcome homophobia in Belarus”, and 23 reports were presented.

Activists travelled from all across the country to attend the event, representing 9 different cities of Belarus. They were joined by delegates from several European countries such as Poland, Ukraine, France, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, United Kingdom and Russia.

More than 30 organizations from the civil society and the LGBT community were represented. Among them, the main human rights organisations, Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Human Rights Centre “Vesna”, the Green Party, the Association of Belarusian Journalists and the Movement for the future.

The conference aimed to be a forum representing the diversity of the civil society and the LGBT community in addressing the issue of homophobia.

Participants expressed a large extend of views on the necessity and strategy to address the issue of homophobia. The Belarusian Helsinki Committee reminded that gay rights are part of human rights and thus emphasized on the importance that human rights NGOs and LGBT activists work together.

Belarusian Social Democratic Party and the Green Party explained the necessity for their political movements to include LGBT Rights in their program. The Green Party reminded that it already set-up its LGBT Commission.

Activists from GayRussia.Ru insisted on the importance for homosexuals to come out to fight for their rights giving example of the campaigns of Harvey Milk. Other delegates discussed the issues of LGBT identity, psychological aspects of homophobia, history of homosexuality in Belarus, homophobia in politics, education of journalists on gay issues, gay business, homosexuality and religion.

The conference, held under the patronage of the International Day Against Homophobia – IDAHO Committee was co-organized by the LGBT Human Rights Projects GayBelarus.By and GayRussia.Ru.

During his welcome speech to the participants, Louis-Georges Tin, the President of the IDAHO Committee, explained that activists are making history, reminding that in Belarus, the Day against homophobia is regularly celebrated. “You are making history today” said Mr Tin.

Sergey Androsenko, head of GayBelarus.By and co-organizer of the event, urged the Belarusian LGBT activists to show solidarity: “Even if we hold sometimes different views, we have a common goal”.

Nikolai Alekseev, head of GayRussia.Ru and organiser of Moscow Pride, noted that exactly on the same day, 9 years ago, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved historical recommendation on the rights of gays and lesbians in the member states of the Council of Europe. “Belarus as a European state can not remain cut from the processes taking place on the continent” said Mr Alekseev.

The delegation of the European Commission to Belarus gave its political support to the event. Mr Jean-Eric Holzapfel, head of the delegation, insisted in his opening speech on the necessity to fight homophobia in Europe and in Belarus in particular. Mr. Holzapfel noted in his speech that “As our immediate eastern neighbour, the human rights situation in Belarus is of particular interest to us. This applies of course to the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”.

Representatives of the Swedish, French and Hungarian Embassies as well as a representative of the NGO “Global Rights Defenders” (ex-Swedish Helsinki Committee) were present as observers.

During the conference the participants watched a documentary produced by a French TV channel France 4 showing the cooperation of Belarusian and Russian LGBT movement in staging the first Slavic Pride last May in Moscow.

In conclusion, the conference delegates discussed and adopted a joint resolution on the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons in Belarus. The text, which will be sent to the President, the government and the parliament, is calling for the ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the prosecution of hate speech, the recognition of equal rights of same-sex couples, the recognition of May 17th as the Day Against Homophobia. It furthers asks the authorities to provide support in organizing Slavic Pride in Minsk next May.

At the closing of the conference Nikolai Alekseev stressed to the participants that “today we made an important step to establish rights for LGBT people in Belarus”. He reminded that “we could not dream when we started our cooperation 10 months ago that we could achieve so much together”.

Late on Saturday the Swedish Embassy hosted a reception for the participants of the conference in one of Minsk restaurants.

The LGBT community plans to stage Slavic Gay Pride in Minsk on May 15, 2010.

On Saturday night a local club hosted the Grand Finale of the election of “Miss Trans Diva Belarus”. The crown was won by Belarus diva Lika Milovski.


1 comment:

Bathmate said...

That’s looks so nice your posting.
Everything looks good in your posting.

That will be necessary for all. Thanks for your posting.