Monthly Archives: May 2010

Meeting with ACCEPT-Romania

We walk quickly down the crowded streets of Bucharest, to the headquarters of ACCEPT.  This organization is the largest LGBT rights NGO is Romania, and we have a quick meeting scheduled with organizers as they prepare for this Saturday’s Gay-Fest march.

The organization’s building is along a quiet side street, but distinguishable from the street by a large rainbow flag.  Inside, we met up with Bogdan Istrate, the group’s PR coordinator, and the organization’s Executive Director Alina Oancea.  They are very hospitable, as they sit down with us to discuss the LGBT situation in Romania.

We often have to face the “normality issue” here, she tells, currently many people consider sexual minority groups as not normal, so we are still struggling with this, to change these negative social attitudes…but in the future I hope it becomes more natural and accepted.

Alina Oancea from ACCEPT-Romania
Unlike many larger prides, she explains holding their march is more of a public statement:

“We want to send a message to the whole of Romania that the LGBT are people who have the same rights as everyone else.”

~ Alina Oancea, Executive Director of ACCEPT-Romania.

Gay-Fest 2010 is scheduled for this Saturday, May 22, and they are expecting around 500 people in attendance.

Links: ACCEPT-Romania and Gay-Fest

Country Details: Gay Rights and Culture in Romania

Country Details: Gay Rights and Culture in Romania

Romania LGBT Rights:

Homosexual Acts Legal? Yes

Same-sex Relationships Recognized? No

◊  However, as part of the EU Romania must recognize same-sex relationships registered in other EU states.

Same-sex Marriages Allowed? No

Same-sex Adoption Allowed? No

Can Gays Serve Openly in the Military? Yes

Anti-discrimination Laws? Yes

◊  Since 2000, Romania legislation has specifically forbidden Anti-gay discrimination in areas “including employment, the provision of and access to goods and services, housing, education, health care, audiovisual programming, the justice system, other public services and social security.”  In terms of prosecuting crimes, persons involved in homophobic related hate crimes also receive a higher sentence.

Legislature Concerning Gender Identity? Yes

Since 1996, it is possible for someone who had undergone sex reassignment surgery to legally change their sex on official documents/paperwork.

Cultural Points of Interest:

Operating online, Angelicuss TV is Romania’s first homosexual TV channel. http://www.tvangelicuss.beanangel.ro/

In 2006, Romania was named by Human Rights Watch as one of five countries in the world that had made “exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Websites:

GayOne.ro -  is a portal in Romania that provides news on LGBT related topics in Romania and concerning worldwide gay issues.
http://www.gayone.ro/

Angelicuss – is an online magazine for Romania providing useful information, news, and chat/blog material.
http://www.angelicuss.beanangel.ro/

ACCEPT -  the organizers of the annual GayFest pride march, and the only LGBT organization in the country.
http://accept-romania.ro/

Romania Gay News – Provides information relevant for the Romanian LGBT community.
http://stirigay.ro

Sergey Yenin’s Story

Arrested, Beaten, Threatened, Jailed and Sent for Trial Just for Taking Part in Slavic Gay Pride

… Yet PROUD of what we all accomplished in Minsk

Read Sergey Yenin’s account of Slavic Pride:

http://ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/10/May/1902.htm

Sergey at Slavic Pride 2010

Slavic Pride: Behind the Photos

We’ve added a new section to our website, which shares background information and the stories behind some of the pictures on the WWP website.

Check it out!

http://wwpbehindthephotos.wordpress.com/

Provides great extra information about last week’s Slavic Pride !

New Gallery – Slavic Pride ’10

A new gallery is available on our main website with images of Slavic Pride ’10, which took place this past weekend in Minsk, Belarus.

Against incredible odds members of Gay Belarus fly the Rainbow flag in Minsk during Slavic Pride '10

See Images of Slavic Pride ’10
http://wwpbehindthephotos.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/slavic-pride-may-15-2010/

Slavic Pride 2010

Slavic Pride 2010 has just taken place …

A total of 12 people were arrested, including 2 Russians who are organizers for St Petersburg Pride.  There were also 18 skinheads arrested.

Ukgaynews.org.uk is publishing a continuing story of the events going on in Belarus. – (Blogging from Belarus)

Here’s an excerpt:

15:08 Minsk had its gay pride march.  For just 10 minutes, 40  Belarusians and Russians waived a 12 meters long rainbow flag for a short march of approximately 200 meters.  They were at first met by a large group of journalists, photographers and TV crew.  But when they reached the first crossing point, they were trapped by several vans of anti-riot police.  Suddenly, the doors of the vans opened and anti-riot officers ran towards the participants. “I never saw anything of the kind” said Nikolai Alekseev by mobile phone.  “They were brutal and violent” he added.  Another participant who did not want to be named said: “It was like a group of wild dogs”.  The march ended with most of the participants being arrested and violently beaten.  A few managed to escape but the police ran after them.

Video of Slavic Pride 2010

Photos will be following on our main website:
http://walkwithpridenow.com

Update from Minsk

Between 30 to 40 protesters blocked the entrance of the Crowne Plaza Hotel last night in Minsk in an attempt to stop the viewing of the documentary movie “Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride,” and the official start of Slavic Pride 2010. Police showed up on the scene and the group disbanded about an hour later. During the viewing a bomb threat was called into the hotel, and the participants were moved to another floor.

Slavic Pride 2010 Protestors

Homophobia in Minsk, Belarus - May 14, 2010

Meeting with the Organizers

Photographer’s Perspective
Written by Charles Meacham

It was with a bit of sad irony that Sergey Yenin would choose Independence Square to meet me.  The 20 year old LGBT activist who now lives in Warsaw has returned once again to Minsk with the task to help organize and lead this year’s Slavic Pride.  His goal isn’t an easy one.  Officially banned by the Belarusian government, Slavic Pride is illegal, making those that plan to break the government’s ban criminals.  But being arrested isn’t the worse scenario the LGBT community can think of.  Belarus is still rife with homophobia and several death threats have been received in recent days.  Having attended the Prides in Moscow, Sergey knows how bad things can get.

We duck down into the crowded Minsk subway and pop up by a small housing community made up of grey rectangular concrete apartment buildings.  Sergey apologizes in advance for the state of Gay Belarus’ office, but money is scarce and a room in one of the other organizer’s flat is all that is in the budget.  I am immediately offered a cup of tea and we begin to chat about our lives.  It’s hard for me, someone twice his age, to comprehend the drive of this young man – what he has already done, and what he plans to do.  The phone rings, and Sergey receives word that the printer of the first edition of the organization’s magazine has refused to finish the order due to a political sketch of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.  I suggest to Sergey to leave the space blank, but with an explanation of the empty space.  The printer agrees to do the job, and the deadline will be met.

Sergey at Gay Belarus Office

We go back down into the metro to meet a couple of Australians here doing a film documentary on the Pride.  The four of us then catch a cab and head to an apartment where Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev is staying.  Having organized Moscow’s Prides, which face similar circumstances Nikolai has in his own words “A lot of experience in such matters.”  The atmosphere in the apartment is relaxed but an air of uncertainty looms.  Nikolai gives the Australian film crew an interview, and the room falls silent.  His words are honest and inspirational.

Nikolai being interviewed

The location of the Pride is being kept a secret until an hour before the meet, and the group’s main focus is now on having not only the most effective display, but the safety of everyone involved.  When asked what he would like to achieve from Saturday’s Pride he simply answers “A peaceful demonstration and the right for discussion.”  With Saturday only two days away everyone seems to be holding their breath and waiting.

To find more updates about Slavic Pride, here’s the link to the Gay Belarus website - http://gaybelarus.by/english.html

The next pride event – Slavic Pride

The next event the WWP project is documenting will be Slavic Pride 2010, held in Minsk, Belarus.  The date was picked to correspond with the International Day Against Homophobia.

Unfortunately, the opposition has succeeded in getting the parade ban, based on a strange technicality.  In the letter the Slavic pride organizers received from city authorities, the decision to ban the parade was based on public events not being allowed to take place within 200 meters of underground pedestrian walkways and metro stops.  This is despite other marches having already taken place along this same route.  While the organizers are still appealing the decision, they also said that some type of protest will take place if the original pride march can not.

Gay Rights and Culture in Belarus

Country Details: Gay Rights and Culture in Belarus

Belarus LGBT Rights:

Homosexual Acts Legal? Yes

Same-sex Relationships Recognized? No

Same-sex Marriages Allowed? No

Same-sex Adoption Allowed? Some

◊  It is possible for a LGBT person to legally adopt the his/her partner’s biological children, but restrictions apply.  However, it is not possible to adopt orphans, since adoptive couples must be married.

Can Gays Serve Openly in the Military? No

Anti-discrimination Laws? No

◊  The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status.  Sexuality is not included.

Legislature Concerning Gender Identity? No

Citizens have no right to change their legal gender

Cultural Points of Interest:

Previously, as part of the Soviet Union, Belarus considered homosexuality illegal, a stance similar to others in the Soviet republics, but in 1994 the Parliament of Independent Belarus changed the criminal code to make homosexuality legal.  However, LGBT people often face severe homophobia and extreme social disapproval.  Belarus is also heavily Russian Orthodox, a religion that traditionally condemns homosexuality.

The 2010 Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide included the following about Belarus:

The Belarusian LGBT movement is one of the youngest in Europe. It operates in one of the most repressive political environments, nearly in full international isolation, without public support inside the country…the most important step in the near future is seen to be a public campaign to change the legislation affecting the relationship between NGOs and the government; that this will allow LGBT groups to work openly and more effectively. The second step is the promotion of antidiscrimination legislation.

Websites:

Gay Belarus is a good source of news and information about the gay community in Belarus, and about Slavic pride.  The founder of GayBelarus.by is an organizer of Slavic gay pride in Belarus, and co-organizer of Slavic pride in Moscow.
http://gaybelarus.by/english.html

Gay.by is a portal for the Belarus LGBT community.  It is a popular site, with event, news, and travel information.
http://www.english.gay.by/

Pride! – Provides LGBT news material for Belaurs including human rights reports and relevant international news.
http://pride.by/en/

Belarus Gay Guide -  Provides information for those traveling to Belarus, including travel books.
http://belarusgay.com/

Sunshine.by – A blog about being gay in Belarus
http://sunshine.by/