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Belarus: beaten up by police for being gay

LGBTI Pride season in the UK is underway, and we’re getting ready for London Pride. We are putting the finishing touches on our float, and getting ready to put on the feather boas.

Yet while we celebrate our achievements in the UK, LGBTI activists around the world remain at risk of harassment, intimidation, and far too often assault.

This year we will be using our presence at London Pride to march for those that can’t. We will be marching in solidarity for the many LGBTI people around the world that cannot take part in their own marches due to homophobic laws. We will be marching to highlight the amazing activists that are struggling for equality in their countries.

In Belarus there are currently no officially registered organisations catering to the needs of the LGBTI communities. Authorities continually deny applications from LGBTI organisations, often citing ‘mistakes’ in the applications. In February 2013 the Ministry of Justice declined yet another application from the organisation Gay Belarus. Following the application, activists were subjected to police raids and investigations, and many of them were subjected to verbal and physical abuse. One of these activists was Ihar Tsikhanyuk

Ihar is an openly gay activist, and drag performer from Belarus. He is linked to Gay Belarus and is working to further LGBTI rights in Belarus.

“I don’t want to hide myself. I live openly. It is not easy in Belarus, but I want to show people that I am a person like everybody. Maybe with my example I want to show that it is possible to live openly.”
Ihar Tsikhanyuk

In February 2013, Ihar was receiving treatment in hospital for a stomach ulcer when plain clothed police officers detained him and took him to October District police station.

When they arrived police officers asked Ihar a series of increasingly pointless questions. 'What brand is your mobile phone?' 'What brand are your shoes?' When Ihar bent over to check the brand of his shoes, he was punched hard in the chest and fell to the ground. He was made to stand up. The police punched him another six times. A female police officer that Ihar vaguely knew took his phone and looked at pictures on it - including some of Ihar in drag. She showed the pictures to other police officers and they mocked him for being gay, hurled verbal abuse at him and threatened him with further violence.

Ihar made a formal complaint about his ill-treatment, but the prosecutors' office refused to launch an investigation, claiming there was a lack of evidence of the assault. Ihar is continuing his struggle for justice, and at Amnesty we are campaigning for an investigation into his abuse. Please stand with Ihar and support his call for an investigation

And there’s still time to join us at London Pride this Saturday and march for those that can’t. The feather boa is completely optional (but we do have spares ready for you). 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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