Commentary: Gay Life in Belarus–Belarusians Below the Radar

Among the former Soviet states in Eastern Europe, Belarus is the most resistant to social change, restricting gay life to private connections out of the public eye. Homosexual behavior was decriminalized in the early 1990s, but pervasive homophobia has largely squelched the gay rights movement. Neighbors of Belarus like Russia, Poland, and Lithuania enjoy far more advanced, even if fledgling, gay life.

Minsk, the capital of Belarus, provides a tenuous, semi-safe haven for gays through an underground network of private organizations and rotating gay nights at bars and clubs. There are determined seeds of gay life in Belarus, and this brief Minsk gay guide reveals some of the basics. Gay tourists can enjoy the Minsk scene provided that they seek some inside information and remain cautious in a country with a spotty human rights record.

Small groups have attempted to organize gay pride events in Minsk, but these are rarely successful, with gay attendees either outnumbered by droves of protesters or with the government denying permits in the first place. Gay organizations and gay publications struggle to gain even basic rights from the oppressive government and recognition from the unfriendly media (Belarus is considered to have Europe’s worst freedom of the press). Thanks to persistent activists in Minsk, though, several gay websites and underground newsletters stay afloat.

There is usually one explicitly gay bar or disco open in Minsk, but these businesses face some discrimination and often struggle to stay in business when they openly market to gay clientele. The Belarusian government once shut down a gay club (Oscar), stating that it attracted socially dysfunctional clientele. This is reflective of Belarusian attitudes toward homosexuality: it’s seen as an activity that people sometimes engage in but not as a valid subculture to which one can belong.

Nowadays, news spreads in the Minsk gay community through email and word-of-mouth about which bars and clubs are gay-friendly on which nights. Club owners realize that they can make money by catering to gay patrons, but they cannot afford the stigma of remaining exclusively gay. Often, surreptitiously circulated flyers will allow cheaper admission on quasi-official gay nights.

To find out where the gay nightlife is, it’s best to connect with a gay resident of Minsk who knows the ever-shifting scene well. Many English-speaking Belarusian students make extra money (it’s a poor country!) by serving as Minsk gay guides, taking gay tourists out to the current gay hotspots, introducing them to friends, and giving historical and cultural tours of Minsk. While these companions are easier to find in cities like Moscow, some web correspondence can help identify capable and willing English speakers in Minsk. is one site that has an extensive personals section of gay and “bi” Belarusian men seeking to meet each other as well as gay tourists coming to Minsk. Though the site is in Russian, it can be roughly interpreted into English using a translating engine. A pen pal of mine says that many of the “bi” men on personals websites are really gay-for-pay, heterosexual twentysomethings who are hoping to either take advantage of Western travelers outright or endure prostitution in order to earn much-needed money.

Of course, there are plenty of legitimate gay guys in Belarus who just want to make friends, date, and be helpful to tourists. The best advice is to build up trust through chat and emails. If you want to hire a gay-friendly guide to show you gay Minsk, consider asking him for references to make sure he’s been a gracious host to previous travelers. One benefit of hiring someone in advance is that he can sponsor your Belarus visa, just in case you’re not traveling for business and don’t want to use a regular travel agency to get you the paperwork. There are some truly public meeting spaces for gays in Minsk, notably parks like Czar Alexander Park and saunas (“banyas”).

These places, as you can guess, are generally shadier places to meet gay folks and should not be explored without some vigilance. Although many good-natured young gays hang out with friends at “pleshka” (cruising parks) because it’s a free social setting, prostitutes and criminals frequent these places too, so be very careful. The nudist beach in Minsk is another place for gay congregation, though it is by no means an exclusively gay destination.

Though it may seem like gay life is Belarus is a total bust, it’s not. One benefit is that everything is located in the heart of Minsk’s compact (and quite lovely) city center. Although it takes some time to identify gay resources and build some connections, the gay acquaintances you make in Minsk can be loyal buddies and fun-loving friends.


Gay rights in Belarus:

Homosexual sex was legalised in Belarus in 1994, however Gay rights in Belarus are still severely limited. While a part of the Soviet Union, Belarus used the laws common for all Soviet republics. Homosexuality was considered illegal. Sexual relationship between females have never been illegal in Belarus, while those between males were always prosecuted. Words such as homosexuality or gay were not present in any old Soviet code as the Soviet juridical system used the term sodomy.

Article 119-1 of the previous Criminal Code of Belarus set out that homosexual men having voluntary sexual contacts were to be convicted to prison terms up to five years. In 1989 nearly 50 Belarus citizens were fired due to their sexual orientation. A special department was set up in KGB to fight homosexuals. Secret services used blackmail to recruit their agents from the gay environment. This thus prevented the possibility of the emergence of any gay organization, or a printed edition designed specifically for sexual minorities. Homosexuals met in the streets, toilets, railway stations, or gathered in private flats or houses.

In 1992 a newspaper named Sex-Antiaids-Plus was founded through the help provided by a non-governmental organization Stop-Aids-Belarus (SAB). The second issue of the newspaper was arrested by a procurator’s office, and a criminal case was initiated against the newspaper. The newspaper contained contact announcements for gays and lesbians. Prosecution regarded announcements as pandering. In 1994 the criminal case against the newspaper was dropped.

However, its founder and chief editor, Russian Geniush, fearing persecution for sexual reasons, stopped his publishing endeavour. In 1992 a magazine named Rendezvous was registered, and began publishing. The magazine focused primarily on personal contacts, thus, contained articles written by psychologists, sexologists as well as letters and announcements of sexual minority readers in a special column “Blue Salon”. In 1994 the magazine ceased to exist.

On 1 March 1994 the Parliament of Independent Belarus changed Article 119-1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus, and homosexuality became legal.


The currently effective Belarusian Constitution of 1994 proclaims that one of its fundamental principles is the equality of citizens. Article 22 states:
“All are equal before the law and have the right to equal defense… without any discrimination”.

The Constitution does not describe the social characteristics on whose basis discrimination is prohibited. In other words, in cases of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the law provides no protection to victims.

Civil and Family Law

According to the Constitution (Article 32) and the Marriage and Family Code (Articles 1 and 12), marriage is a specific civil contract, concluded before a state organ and available to two persons of the opposite sex. This final requirement makes marriage inaccessible to homosexual couples.

Although the existing conservative model of marriage does not satisfy society, and although many people live together outside of marriage, Belarusian legislation still does not recognize domestic partnerships as a status that gives rights and responsibilities to its parties. For this reason, partners see no changes in their personal or material relations when they decide to cohabitate outside of marriage.

Domestic partnership is not a legal basis for one partner’s changing his or her surname. It does not lead to spousal material commonwealth between the partners. Among the responsibilities taken on by the partners in their life together, the only ones legally enforced are those listed in the civil law. When they have a common business, their relations are regulated by the rules of commercial law. If they break up, the partners have no access to the legally recognized rights of a spouse in a divorce. Current and former partners in cohabitation have no right to alimony or financial support.

Cohabitation is not a legal basis for inheritance, since partners are not included in the legal circle of heirs. Therefore, domestic partners may inherit from one another only when there is a last will and testament. The taxes on such an inheritance are higher than the taxes imposed on inheritances received by a legal spouse. Domestic partners inheriting through a will also have no right to a preserve part of the estate.

Cohabitating partners have no parental rights over the children of the other partner. It is possible, however, for one partner to legally adopt the other’s biological children. The adoptive parent must not be legally incapacitated, must not have been stripped of his or her parental rights by the courts, and must be at least 16 years older than the adopted child. It is not possible for cohabitating couples to adopt orphans, since the law requires adoptive couples to be married.

Labour Law

The Labour Code (Article 14) prohibits discrimination in the sphere of labour relations. However, sexual orientation is left out of the list of social characteristics on whose basis discrimination is legally prohibited. In other words, victims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation have no right to protection.

Criminal Law

Homosexual sex was decriminalized for the first time in 1994. The Criminal Code in force at the moment in Belarus was passed in 2000. The only homosexual acts that remain crimes are those that violate the consent of the sexual partner. The crimes regarding homosexuality are covered in Chapter 20 (Section VII) of the Criminal Code, the chapter dedicated to “crimes against sexual inviolability or sexual freedom”. Article 167 covers “forced actions of a sexual character”:
1. Muzhelozhstvo [specific Russian definition of “male sexual intercourse with male”, literary “man lying with man”], lesbianism or other actions of a sexual character committed by use of force or threat thereof against the victim, or by exploiting the victim’s vulnerability, are punished by deprivation of freedom from three to seven years.
2. The same actions, if they are committed several times or by a person previously convicted of rape, or by a group of persons, or wittingly against an underage person, are punished by deprivation of freedom from five to twelve years.
3. Actions which are foreseen by the first or second parts of the present Article if they are committed wittingly against a person under fourteen years old, or carelessly brought about the death of a victim, or carelessly inflicted heavy damage to his/her health, caused HIV infection or some other heavy consequences, are punished by deprivation of freedom from eight to fifteen years.

Article 168 provides that sexual intercourse, muzhelozhstvo, lesbianism, or other actions of a sexual character, wittingly committed by a person over 18 on a person under 16, except the crimes foreseen by the articles 166 and 167 of this Code, are punished by arrest up to six months or limitation of freedom up to three years or deprivation of freedom up to four year s._Article 170 on “Coercive acts of a sexual character” states that:
” 1. Coercion of a person into sexual intercourse, muzhelozhstvo, lesbianism or other actions of a sexual character by use of blackmail, threat of destruction, damage or withdrawal of property, or by exploiting the victim’s material or other dependency, is punished by limitation of freedom up to three years or deprivation of freedom on the same terms.
2. The same action, if it is committed wittingly against an underage person, is punished by limitation of freedom up to four years or deprivation of freedom up to five years.” No specific sexual acts, such as oral or anal penetration, are mentioned, and whether the behavior is homosexual or heterosexual makes no difference. The law makes an important symbolic tribute to the principle of gender equality in that, with the exception of rape, which requires a female victim, all other criminal sexual actions, such as violence, compulsion, or coercion, can be directed against persons of either gender, the victims in all cases being referred to in the law as she or he. The age of legally relevant consent for participation in sexual acts is equal for homosexuals and heterosexuals: 16 years old.

The legislation contains no laws that refer specifically to perpetrators of crimes motivated by homophobia. In the Criminal Code, homosexuals are only singled out when they are the “subjects” of a crime (e.g., when they are the perpetrators), and not when they are “objects” (e.g., victims of a crime). Judicial and police organs do not express any eagerness to collect evidence about the homophobic motives of those who perpetrate crimes. Judges are not obliged to consider such motives as aggravating the circumstances of guilt, or to impose more severe punishments when homophobic motives are present.

Anti-discriminatory Law

Currently effective legislation does not contain the so called “Anti-discriminatory Law”, which regulates the principles of the equal treatment resting on the prohibition of discrimination and the means of legal protection against its violation.

Immigration and Asylum Law

Persecution on the basis of sexual orientation is not explicitly recognized in law as a ground for granting refugee status. Same sex partners are not recognized for the purposes of immigration law. After the fall of the communist regime many Belarusians requested and were granted asylum abroad, based on sexual orientation discrimination. The most frequent reason cited was formal or informal harassment by the police. Amnesty International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network – Belarus (AILGBT-Belarus) has information on individuals who were granted asylum in Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, and Sweden.

(From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)

Social acceptance

Intolerance and homophobia remains present within Belarusian society. According to The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), representatives of sexual minorities are scared of seeking protection from the human rights groups. Gay life is still largely underground and most Belarusians consider homosexuality a disease.

Public Opinion

Homophobic attitude, suspicions and prejudices are still very strong. According to the survey held by Belarusian Lambda League for Sexual Equality (Lambda Belarus) in April 2002 47% of questioned Belarusians think that gays should be imprisoned. Young people increasingly tolerate homosexuality and show a growing interest in gay and lesbian culture. However, their interest remains part of youth popular culture and is often considered as a kind of fashion that will be outgrown and forgotten in adult life.

The open support of lesbians and gays is not a popular thing for a political movement in Belarus. In July 2001 the Organising Committee of the 1st Belarusian Youth Congress, according to majority low, voted against participation of delegates of Lambda Belarus. In March 2002 a number of Belarusian media published press release of Young Front (the youth organisation of Belarusian Popular Front), which contained homophobic statements and humiliating notes about gays. (From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)

State homophobia

In his speech at the consultation with the Belarusian Security Council, which took place 28 September 2004 in Minsk, with participation of the highest members of power and security ministries of the country President Lukashenka said: “… we have to show our society in the near future, what ‘they’ [EU and USA] 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”.

(From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)


The Russian Orthodox Church is very powerful (claiming 80% of the population as adherents) and considers homosexual relationships as among “the gravest of sins”. According to Lambda Belarus in April 1999 Russian Orthodox Church officials have publicly called for the execution of gays.

In May 2003 the European Humanities University (Minsk) administration banned demonstration of the documentary “Outlawed” about discrimination of gays and lesbians all around the world. The show was planned for AMNESTY FILMS FESTIVAL, organised by AILGBT-Belarus at the University. According to the University staff the ban was made under pressure of Russian Orthodox Church.

(From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)

Recent cases of discrimination

There is no anti-discrimination law in Belarus. The ILGA reports Belarusians being discriminated or persecuted due to their sexual orientations.
Specific examples include:
. A former Minsk resident Roman, 19, was seeking a political asylum in the U.S., because his parents had been trying to cure him by shock therapy. (NOTE: Real name and location changed to protect identity).
. In May 1998 a resident of Maryina Gorka, Minsk District, the state official, was fired from his position after his former wife called the administration and said that her former husband was homosexual.
. In July 1998 directors of the state National Television and Radio Company of Belarus banned authors of popular TV programs King’s Hunt and It’s All Right, Mamma from using the already filmed material with participation of the Singing Queens Show on the grounds that the programs’ characters confessed they were gay.
. The country’s only gay club, Oscar, was closed by the government in February 2000 because police said it “gathers abnormal people”. However some mainstream clubs reportedly hold specific gay nights.

Discrimination concerning the gay rights festivals
Minsk Gay Culture and Human Rights Conference Cancelled

Individual cases registered by Lambda Belarus from January 2001 to June 2003:
– On 18 April a dead body of the pensioner Alexander Stephanovich, known in Minsk as a homosexual, was found in the yard of the apartment block where he lived. His body was stabbed all over with knives.
– At night between 15 and 16 of May the activist of Lambda Belarus Andrei Babkin was badly beaten and raped by the entrance into his flat and subsequently was taken to the hospital with severe injuries.
– On early morning on the 3rd of July the owner of the gay club “Oskar” Ivan Suchinski, 30 was killed. The club was closed by the authorities in February 2000 and Ivan tried to seek civil remedy against unfair actions of the police. 6 cases of murder of homosexuals were reported in Minsk and parts of their bodies were scattered around the city. To this day the police have not found the murderers.
– On 2 July in Minsk the police detained and badly beat Andrei Scherbakov, one of the founders of Lambda Belarus.
– On 3 August the unidentified broke into and vandalised the flat of the Lambda Belarus activist Andrei Babkin where fliers, posters and booklets of the festival “Gay Pride 2001” had been kept.
– On 13 November in Molodechno the leader of Lambda Belarus Edward Tarletski was seriously assaulted which resulted in a “concussion of brain” diagnosed in the hospital where he was rushed into and spent 7 days. The police refused to take actions in connection with the assault for the reason that as they explained it was “impossible to find the criminals”.
– On 15 February in Zhlobin (Gomel Region) a dead body of 34 year old accountant Victor Kovyl was found in his parents’ flat. He was openly gay both at work and in public. The police refused to give the details of the murder to Kovyl’s partner Alexander and one of the members of the police said to him: “It serves you right, sodomites (faggots)!”.
– On 29 March, Pavel Severinetz, the leader of the biggest opposition organisation, the “Young Front”, issued a letter published in media, where he called homosexuality “a death-worthy sin and perversion”. According to Severinetz the fact of the existence of homosexuals is “the result of spoiling and sinfulness in the world”.
– On 12 April an assault and beating of gay men took place outside a gay club “Babylon”. According to witnesses a group of skin heads (10-12 men) who attacked 3 visitors of the gay club ran away before the police arrived. Among the victims was Edward Tarletski, Editor in Chief of a gay magazine Forum Lambda and leader of Lambda Belarus.
– On 10 June in the town Kommunar of Buda-Koshelyovo district of Gomel region three unidentified men heavily beat and raped a local resident Dmitrii L., 18. The victim was taken to the reanimation ward of Gomel Regional hospital where he spent 2 weeks.
– On 29 August before the festival “Gay Pride 2002” the leader of Lambda Belarus and Editor in Chief Edward Tarletski was called to the City Department of Minsk Police where he was told that in case he organizes gay parade on the streets of the city “the police will not take any responsibility for possible disorders”. The police also threatened Tarletski with criminal prosecution in case of a street demonstration like it was in 2001.
– On 2 October at 10 pm Edward Tarletski was seriously assaulted outside his flat entrance on his way home. Four unidentified men asked him if his name was Tarletski and started beating him. That night he was taken to the hospital. He had a broken shoulder and three teeth smashed.
– Minsk Police started a criminal case in connection with the murder of Mikhail M., 50, whose mutilated body was found in his flat on the 17th of November. According to the police this was the 5th murder of this kind committed in the capital of Belarus. However the detectives fully denied the possibility of a maniac.
– In December the administration of the Belarussian State University in Minsk banned access to all gay internet resources in the computer classes of the university.
– On 18 February Edward Tarletski, leader of Lambda Belarus and Editor in Chief of a gay magazine, Forum Lambda, was beaten by unidentified persons near his house. Edward was taken to the hospital with a head injury and plenty of bruises on his body.
– On 20 March the administration of the internet café “Soyuz Online”, the biggest and most popular among gays internet-café in Minsk, blocked the Belarussian gay and lesbian web site APAGAY.
– On 29 March the security guard of the night club “Budda-Bar” in Minsk heavily beat Yuliya Yukhnovetz, volunteer for Minsk Pride, only because she kissed a girl in the club hallway. She was taken into hospital where she was diagnosed with a “closed injury of cranium”.
– On 10 May an unknown hacker broke into the Belarussian gay and lesbian web site APAGAY. He deleted all the topics of the site’s forum and introduced the new one containing appeal to kill gays. In addition while downloading the home page of the notification “PIDARS MUST DIE” and “STOP PIDARS IN BELARUS” appeared on the screen. The hacker’s breaking was followed by telephone calls to the members of the site’s team with threats of physical violence.
– On 28 May the administration of the European Humanitarian University in Minsk banned demonstration of the documentary film “Outlawed” about discrimination of gays and lesbians abroad. The film show was planned for AMNESTY FILMS FESTIVAL, which should have taken place at the University. According to the University staff the ban was made under pressure of the Russian Orthodox Church.
– On 12 June Edward Tarletski, leader of Lambda Belarus and Editor in Chief of the gay magazine Forum Lambda, addressed a letter to the head of the state company “Minsk Postal Service” asking to explain why all international correspondence for BLL, Forum Lambda and Tarletski personally is always received open and damaged.


There are reports that police and prosecutor agencies do not give cases involving a victim who is of a sexual minority equal treatment.
In prisons and correctional facilities, homosexuality is subject to speculation, blackmail and exaction. While in prison, gays and lesbians are largely unprotected. Reportedly, executing bodies often make use of prisoners’ sexual inclinations to receive needed data, and turnkeys often encourage prisoners to abuse homosexuals.

Discriminatory Police Practices

Individual cases provide evidence indicating the presence of the following discriminatory practices:
1. Police officers seek information of a personal nature about homosexual persons who are victims of violence. This information is of no relevance to the prosecution the perpetrators of the crimes against those victims.
2. Police officers collect information of a personal nature as well as passport data and face pictures of homosexual persons who visit cruising areas. National NGO “Vstrecha” [“Meeting”] (HIV-prevention group for gay men) reported about those practices in Brest and Gomel.
3. Police officers refuse to register cases of brutality committed against representatives of sexual minorities and do not conduct investigations that would seek criminal responsibility from the perpetrators of crimes motivated by homophobic prejudice. Lambda Belarus reported many cases of brutality against lesbians and gays and passive behaviour of police in all regions of the country. The passive behaviour of the police is an expression of the state’s desire to ignore and to not protect the violated rights of homosexuals.
4. Police has conducted unprovoked actions in bars frequented by homosexuals. AILGBT-Belarus, “Vstrecha”, Lambda Belarus and lesbian group “YANA” reported about those practices in Gomel and Minsk. (From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)


According to the Belarusian Ministry of Defense and the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military of the University of California, Santa Barbara Belarus is between those countries that ban gays to serve in the military. AILGBT-Belarus has documented at least five cases of gay men from Gomel who did not serve in the army because of their sexual orientation. No cases of harassment of gays in the army are reported, but this may be the result of gay individuals hiding their sexuality.

(From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)


A high percentage of suicide is observed amongst gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. Qualified psychological help is not generally available. In Minsk, the capital of Belarus, three universities – Belarus State University, Belarus Pedagogical University and European Humanities University – have full psychology courses on their curriculum but do not address the problems of sexual minorities

Gay rights festival

After previous failed efforts, in 1999 a gay pride festival was organised by Forum Lambda, a magazine of Belarusian gays and lesbians. The festival was supported by the UN Development Programme, studio Tatyana, organisation United Way Belarus, IREX, Titanic club administration and guests from Ukraine. The 1999 festival was a success.

In 2000 the organisers of the festival encountered great difficulty in preparing for the event. According to Edvard Tarletsky, head of the organising committee, the radio station (Radio BA) which was to cover the event and grant its dancehall for night events received an order from the Presidential Administration not to do so. Other radio stations reportedly refused support on the same grounds, and other venues were also cancelled. Orthodox Church related groups demonstrated in Minsk against the Gay Festival the day before the festival was planned, on September 9. A planned gay pride march through the city was banned by the city government 24 hours before it was due to take place, and authorities acted on the day to prevent festivities. Newspapers have reported the outcome of the day.

In 2001 the Belarus government allegedly prohibited the Belarus Gay Pride Festival for 2001.
The organizing committee of the final (Belarusian) phase of the 4th International Moonbow Human Rights & Homo Cultural Festival and the 1st stage of this year’s ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) World Lesbian and Gay World Conference — August 28-29, 2004 — have been forced to cancel the event in Minsk. This comes after authorities frightened a club owner into withdrawing his promise to host the event and non-governmental human rights activists from attending the event. In addition, threatening phone calls from authorities said foreigners trying to attend the event for workshops and discussions “would be immediately expelled from the country in keeping with the article of intervention in domestic affairs of the Republic of Belarus.”[6] (From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)


95% of the Belarusian media market is owned by the state. Publications on LGBT issues are rare in state-owned newspapers, as well as in independent. Pro-governmental media expresses negative views about homosexuals. The work of the media has not had yet a great educational value in opening a debate in Belarusian society.

The only specialised magazine for the LGBT community (Forum Lambda magazine) was published by Lambda Belarus in Russia and disseminated in Belarus during 1998-2002. The publication has been banned several times by the State Publishing Committee.

The main source of information about life of LGBT community in Belarus is internet portal APAGAY ( It’s one of ten most visited sites in Belarus with monthly audience of over 350,000 visitors. The creators of the web site encounter a lot of problems when trying to disseminate adequate information about homosexuality. In December 2002 the administration of the Belarusian State University in Minsk banned access to all gay internet resources in the computer classes of the university. In March 2003 the administration of the internet café “Soyuz Online”, the biggest and most popular among gays in Minsk, blocked the site. In January 2004 the National Hosting Company N1.BY refused its services. Earlier in 2003 the system administrator of “Krassnaya Banernaya” RED.BY banned the portal APAGAY from banners exchange.

(From Viachaslau Bortnik’s report presented at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, October 4-15, 2004; side event “Intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the OSCE region”.)

LGBT organisations

1 TEMA Information Center Post address: 118, 246048 Gomel, BELARUS_Phone: +375 29 7390882_e-mail: svyatoslav.sementsov@gmail.com_ Founded in 2004. TEMA is Belarusian national wide not profit LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) NGO (Not Government Organization). Now days, TEMA is one of the most active LGBT NGO in Belarus. TEMA is not registered NGO, because of political situation in Belarus.

Activities:_• publication informative materials_• national LGBT web-site http://www.pride.by_• a creative contest for journalists_• e-newsletter in English• monitoring of the media_• educational events (trainings, workshops, conferences)_• monitoring of Belarusian legislation_• providing the LGBT community with legal education and information_• lobbying for the interests of the LGBT community on both national and international levels

2 Amnesty International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network – Belarus (AILGBT-Belarus)_Address: PO Box 10P, 246050 Gomel_Phone: (029) 731 79 02_e-mail: amnesty@tut.by_Commentary: Founded in 1999. Activities: LGBT rights research and advocacy, human rights education, social activities. Recipient of 2004 Grizzly Bear Award from International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network._AILGBT-Belarus vision is of a world in which every LGBT person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

In pursuit of this vision, AILGBT-Belarus mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending abuses of human rights of LGBT community in Belarus, within the context of its work to promote LGBT rights worldwide.
3 Vstrecha [“Meeting”]_Location: 23-53, Kiedyshko Street, Minsk_Phone: 288 36 08_e-mail: info@vstrecha-aids.com_http://www.vstrecha.by_Commentary: The oldest gay group in Belarus, founded in the early 1990s. Activities: HIV/AIDS prevention; HIV+ support group.

From Wikipedia
Edited February 2007


Also see:
Gay Belarus News & Reports 2004 to present