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Riot police detain men after raiding gay bars in Belarus

Riot police detain men after raiding gay bars in Belarus

Riot police stormed several gay clubs in Belarus’ capital, Minsk, detaining a number of men.

The men detained were forced to hand over their passports, from which police copied their details.

‘The gloomy news from Belarus: the activists of the Minsk LGBT organisations reported on the detention in the gay clubs “Burlesque” and “Casta Diva” on the night of October 20-21,’ the Russian LGBT Network reported.

The Network said no official reason as to why the raids happened had been provided by the police.

‘Riot policemen rewrote party attendees data, some visitors were detained. The reasons for the detentions are not known,’ the Network wrote.

‘It is also reported that a popular dating site for guys was not available to users from Belarus.

‘There were 11 people from the OMON [a special unit of the federal police] and several people in civilian clothes. They asked to show their passports and copied data from them. One of them was taken from the club says an eyewitness.’

‘We hope that all detainees will be released and we call on the LGBT community of Belarus not to panic.’

On the same day as the raids the website of Russian gay dating website, bluesystem.org, was blocked in Belarus.

Low ranking

Belarus is one of the worst countries for LGBTI people in Europe.

The country decriminalized homosexuality in 1994. But the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) ranked Belarus 42nd out of 49 European countries on its annual Rainbow Index and the Rainbow Europe Map.

Human rights advocates have spoken out against the Belarussian police raids.

‘The reports out of Belarus are alarming. It is alarming that police targeted legal businesses, violated the privacy of their patrons, demanded personal information, and dragged some away to detention,’ said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord.

‘This appears to be the latest example of increased persecution of LGBT communities in the region—following egregious cases in Chechnya, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan.’