MEP Robert Biedroń, the leader of the Polish party Wiosna (Spring) and a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, has been elected Head of the the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Belarus.
The delegation was established in 1994. Currently, the European Parliament does not have official relations with the Parliament of Belarus, ‘due to the country’s failure, so far, to conduct free and fair elections and to fulfil international standards for democracy and the rule of law’, the EP official website reads.
MEP Leszek Miller, who recommended Biedroń for the post, expressed his confidence that the Polish politician was in the position to head the delegation.
“Furthermore, his political experience will be extremely useful for the EP would-be building relations both with the society and the Belarusian authorities,” Miller said.
Kolejny sukces Wiosny w Brukseli! 💪Dziś zostałem przewodniczącym Delegacji do spraw relacji z Białorusią. Obecnie PE…
“For now, the European Parliament does not maintain the bilateral parliamentary cooperation with Belarus. However, the parliamentary elections will be held in the country in November; the presidential elections will take place next year. I hope that the events will create new opportunities for improving our relations, though, of course, the respect for human rights in Belarus will remain a key issue for us,” Robert Biedroń stated on Thursday.
Currently, there are 44 interparliamentary delegations in the European Parliament. They are engaged in developing contact with lawmakers in other countries, regions and organizations. They are responsible for promoting the EU’s core values: democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Robert Biedroń is a former deputy of the Sejm and ex-mayor of the Polish town of Słupsk. The politician is an openly gay person; he is widely known for his struggle for LGBT rights.
In turn, Belarusian high-ranking politicians have repeatedly allowed themselves to make derogatory remarks about LGBT people.
For example, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not hesitate to have a fling at the sexual orientation of Germany’s former Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle when warning Europe of a harsh response to its sanctions in March, 2012. “It is better to be a dictator than gay,” he said.
According to top Polish diplomat Radosław Sikorski, Lukashenka stated that there were no sexual minorities in Belarus.
In 2018, the Belarusian Interior Ministry expressed resentment over the fact that the British Embassy in Minsk displayed a rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT community, on May 17. According to the ministry, the family union of man and woman is ‘at the head of the world order’ and therefore the Belarusian state protects it.
“We are for true-life things, and they [LGBT] shall not pass!” the official statement said. The top officials called same-sex marriages and affairs ‘fake’.
In December’s interview with the TV station ONT, the then Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich called members of sexual minorities ‘full of holes’.
“There is a certain category of citizens, excuse me for maybe a certain slang, but this is my term, my definition. I call them people full of holes. Some of them have made holes in the places that are not provided by nature, some of these holes are misused, some are a real hole, in education, in upbringing, in intellect, in culture. Some compile it all. They have one task, and they have one goal — to once again show off in the media, on the Internet, collect a certain amount of admiration, likes, and, of course, receive grants from their foreign curators, and to satisfy their painful ego,” he said.
According to Belarusian human rights activists, Shunevich’s statements were nothing less than incitement to discrimination of citizens.