(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Same-sex sexual acts have been legal since 1994 in Belarus.
The age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual acts is equal.
We do not currently list any case law, but we welcome suggestions of case law relating to LGBTI asylum claimants from Belarus.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
Although same-sex sexual conduct is not illegal, harassment and violations of LGBTI persons’ freedom of assembly is widespread in Belarus. Authorities routinely deny LGBTI groups permission to hold public events such as pride parades. Public demonstrations by LGBTI community members were prohibited by the police in 2012, according to Radio Free Europe. Furthermore, the Minsk Gay Pride 2013 was banned on December 2013, as were public demonstrations in the city on December 11 and 12, according to the US State Department.
Moreover, police authorities have routinely raided LGBTI clubs throughout the country, interrogated activists and often detained LGBTI persons without charges. The US State Department reports raids in clubs in Minsk and Vitsyebsk on 11 and 12 January 2013. Similarly, a flat rented by several members of the LGBTI community was raided on 7 December 2013. At least 60 people were questioned during 2013, according to Human Rights Watch.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus also expressed concerns in 2013 about continuing incidents of hate-motivated violence against LGBTI persons, which is rarely met by law enforcement action.
Restrictions on freedom of association are equally concerning. Organisations working with LGBTI populations face particular oppression by Belarusian authorities; the US State Department reports a number of recent restrictions on LGBTI associations. On 18 April 2013, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the Justice Ministry’s refusal to officially register Lambda, an LGBTI organisation. In August 2013, authorities forced the closure of the Minsk and regional offices of ‘Vstrecha’, an organisation focusing on HIV/AIDS education and support, and summoned its coordinator, Vadzim Kruk, for interrogation twice during the year. Human Rights Watch and Radio Free Europe also report that Gay Belarus has consistently been refused registration, with its last unsuccessful attempt in February 2013.
Hostility towards LGBTI persons is largely fuelled by anti-gay political discourse. According to the US State Department, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka stated in March 2013 that he could not ‘forgive’ homosexuality in men, and he condemned same-sex marriage as a ‘tragic sin of a general spiritual crisis and the Western world’s blindness’ in a statement in July 2013. In March 2012, when confronted for human rights violations, the President stated that it is ‘better to be a dictator than gay’.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
As discussed above, organisations working with LGBTI persons face considerable obstacles with regard to registration in Belarus.
(Their postal address is listed here: http://gaybelarus.by/supracounictva.html)
Tel: +375 298 630 000 / +375 297 142 843.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We do not currently list any COI experts for Belarus, but welcome suggestions..
Researched by: Minos Mouzourakis