Today, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the British Embassy in Minsk is flying the rainbow flag in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
The British Embassy together with the U.S. Embassy Minsk, Belarus, Embassy of Sweden in Minsk, Israeli Embassy, UN in Belarus and WHO Belarus make a stand for the rights of the LGBT-community, the UK diplomats said on Facebook.
Belarus became BBC’s fcous of attention the other day because of the comments made by a Belarusian TV host about same-sex couples. Ambassador Fionna Gibb voices her views as well as explains why @ukinbelarus is flying the rainbow flag today.#IDAHOBIT #IDAHOBIT2019 #LGBT pic.twitter.com/OvgOcP9KrL
— UK in Belarus 🇬🇧🇧🇾 (@UKinBelarus) May 17, 2019
“This embassy is once again flying the rainbow flag as we did in 2015, 2017 and 2018. We do so not to promote LGBT, but to promote equal rights for this community. LGBT people are not asking for special rights, but simply to enjoy the same respect, dignity and rights as others. As human rights are universal and should apply equally to all people, my government is committed to non-discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Nevertheless, discrimination still continues in UK against this community as it does all over the world including in Belarus. Flying a flag raises awareness about discrimination, and many people don’t even realize that they hold such discriminatory views,” Ambassador Fionna Gibb said in the video.
In May 2018, the Belarusian Ministry expressed its resentment over the fact that the British Embassy in Minsk displayed the rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT community.
“Not taking into account traditions and pillars of the society, supporters of same-sex relationships are fiercely defending their position. By any measure, same-sex relationships are fake. And the essence of fakes is always the same, i.e the depreciation of the truth. The LGBT community, the struggle for ‘their rights’, and the LGBT day itself are nothing but a fake! Belarus rests on the foundation of traditional institutions of family and marriage. At the same time, we are equally open to all that is useful, necessary and progressive: for all that will make the lives of Belarusians better and contribute to the development of society as a whole. We are for true-life things, and they [LGBT] shall not pass!” the official statement reads.
The ministry’s controversial stance caused a wave of outrage in Belarus and did not go unnoticed by foreign media.
Moreover, in December’s interview with the TV station ONT, Belarusian Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich called members of sexual minorities ‘full of holes’. HRC Viasna sent letters to the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigation Committee asking to look into the potential discrimination in the TV statements of Shunevich, who, by the way, hardly hides his affection for Josef Stalin and Soviet chekists. Human rights activists believe that his words are nothing less than incitement to discrimination, hostility to citizens of a country on a discriminatory basis like sexual orientation.
Today the ministry has already confirmed that its position on the issue remains unchanged.
“We are for true-life things, and they shall not pass!” the officials reiterate in their statement on the ministry’s website.