Belarusian authorities must end suppression of citizens, says CIVICUS

Johannesburg. 19 May 2011. The recent detention of 14 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists in Minsk is just one more incident in an on-going crackdown on civil society in Belarus, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation today. The arrests came as local LGBT groups were gathering in Minsk to commemorate the International Day of Anti-Homophobia on 17 May.

According to one organiser, Sergei Androsenko, head of the organisation Gay Belarus, the protestors were planning to gather peacefully with the goal of spreading tolerance and understanding, but were detained pre-emptively by police before they could assemble. The fourteen detainees, including Androsenko, were taken to a local police precinct, where they were finger-printed, harassed with slurs and had some of their personal effects confiscated, including a thousand flyers advertising the campaign to ‘legalise love’, before being released.


“We had planned peace education and were not going to push any political demands,” said Androsenko. “Each move by the authorities once again deteriorates the reputation of our country in the eyes of the international community."

Androsenko is referring to the on-going crackdown on regional civil society that has escalated since the 19 December elections in Belarus when over 630 protestors, civil society activists and opposition members were detained.

“Belarus is fast gaining a reputation as being one of the most difficult places in the world to be a civil society activist”, said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “This recent incident is another indication of the scant respect Belarusian authorities have for the human and democratic rights of the Belarusian people.”

As in many countries around the world, homophobia in Belarus, and in the former Soviet Union, is a widespread phenomenon. While no longer illegal as it was during the Soviet period, Belarusian LGBT groups have been the victim of mass censorship with gay pride event organisers repeatedly coming under threat. Notably, in 2009 an event titled 'The Right to Love' designed to raise public awareness on discrimination and homophobia was denied authorisation along with many other attempts at peaceful public assembly.

In addition, civil society in Belarus continues to be captive to Section 193.1 of the Criminal Code which criminalises participation in the activities of non-registered organisations. Vocal human rights groups are routinely denied registration and have to carry out their activities at the risk of enduring two years imprisonment under the provision for non-registered civil society activities.

CIVICUS urges the Belarusian authorities to live up to their commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and create an enabling environment for civil society by upholding the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world.  



For more information please contact CIVICUS:

Rowena McNaughton (,  +27 76 869 5293), Media Officer or  Will Lasky (), Eurasia Project Coordinator

Office Tel: +27 11 833 5959