Update to BYS28904.E of 20 February 2000 regarding the treatment of homosexuals, particularly lesbians, in the city of Minsk, including societal attitudes, treatment by the state and state protection [BYS35140.E]

On the legal situation of homosexuals and lesbians in Belarus, a July 1998 report prepared by The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), entitled The Status of Sexual Minorities in Belarus, states that:

Sexual contacts for [lesbian] women in Belarus are conditionally considered legal in the age from 14 to 18. This is defined by court experts in sexual crime cases depending on the level of a girl's sexual maturity. Sexual contacts for [gay] men are considered legal upon attaining majority only, or since 18. The law does not specifically refer to homosexuality apart from the provision set forth by the above mentioned Article 119-1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus which deals with criminal prosecution of men who constrained another man to sexual contacts forcedly, or the same action committed towards a minor (seduction of a person under 18), or using their service position. This provision stipulates punishment with prison term of up to eight years. Article 119 of the Criminal Code of Belarus reiterates entirely other provisions of the Criminal Code of Belarus which deal with sexual rape, or a seduction of minors.

On societal attitudes towards homosexuals and Lesbians in Belarus, the report says that:

As before, intolerance and homophobia still remain within the society. Representatives of sexual minorities are even scared of seeking protection from the human rights groups working in Belarus. There are facts of people being discriminated or persecuted due to their sexual orientations. Recently, 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 a shock therapy. 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 (ibid.).

On the attitude of law enforcement agencies, the army and educational institutions, the reports states that:

Police and prosecutor offices very often do not react to gays' protests against beatings or robberies, after they find out that a victim belongs to sexual minority groups. There are cases when during a military conscription, "suspicious" guys are directed by a medical examination to a psychiatrist. In the Army, untraditional relationship between men are considered contrary to military requirements and laws, and are severely prosecuted. In prisons or correctional facilities, homosexuality is subject to speculation, blackmail and exaction. While in prison, gays and lesbians are extremely unprotected. Executing bodies often made use of prisoners' sexual inclinations for receiving the needed data. Turnkeys also often encourage prisoners to abuse homosexuals who get practically daily raped by people sharing the same prison cell.
Quite a high percentage of suicide is observed amongst gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals. These people are deprived of a qualified psychological help. In Minsk, the capital of Belarus, three universities only-Belarus State University, Belarus Pedagogical University and European Humanities University-have full psychology courses on their curriculums. These psychology courses do not even mention the problems of sexual minorities. At the same time, psychology students at the Belarusian Pedagogical University, for example, are to listen to 70 hours of lectures on psychology of children having mental problems. A specialized laboratory of gender studies which operates at the European Humanities University, does not conduct researches at all on homophobia or sexual minorities issues. Students of medical schools study sexual minorities in the "psychiatry" section (ibid.).

The Belarus Lambda League for Freedom of Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals league - Belarus Lambda League staged a demonstration in Minsk to protest a seminar organized by the Russian Orthodox Church during which the Belarusian Exarchate called for the physical elimination of homosexuals in Belarus (Radio 101,2 19 Apr. 1999; Forum Lambda 20 Apr. 1999).

A 17 September 1999 report from Belarusian business newspaper Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta states that the Belarus Lambda League had not gained official recognition from the Ministry of Justice.

No further information on the situation of gays and lesbians in Belarus could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta [Minsk]. 17 September 1999. No. 57. Veronika Cherkasova. "Blue on the Grey." (in Forum Lambda) http://www.irex.minsk.by/~gayforum/English/articles.htm [Accessed 31 July 2000]

Forum Lambda [Minsk]. 20 April 1999. "Belarusian Gays Hold First Ever Public Proteset." http://www.irex.minsk.by/~gayforum/English/Extract1-20000409.htm [Accessed 31 July 2000]

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). July 1998. The Status of Sexual Minorities in Belarus. http://www.ilga.org/Information/Europe/status_of_sexual_minorities_in_b.htm [Accessed 31 July 2000]

Radio 101,2 [Minsk, in Belarusian]. 19 April 1999. "Belarusian Homosexuals Protest Against Official Discrimination." (BBC Summary 20 Apr. 1999/NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases

Internet sources including:

Country Reports 1999

East European Gay Links

The Eastgarden. Belarus

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). World Watch. East Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). World Legal Survey.

____. Euroletter. June 1999-June 2000.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)

World News Connection (WNC)