There were no reported incidents at the officially-approved rally against homophobia staged in the Belarus capital today.
A dozen LGBT activists took part in the rally in a park close to the Ministry of Justice, one of the locations that were approved last Friday by both the Minsk City Executive Committee and the police.
The rally was seen to have created history in the country where events organised by the gay community up to now have always been banned.
And the result was that there were twice as many journalists on hand to cover the event than those taking part.
“For the first time the only thing that we feared was neither the police nor the homophobe hooligans but the cold,” said Sergey Praded, organiser of the event and co-chair of IDAHO Belarus.
“In the last six months, we have submitted dozens of applications to hold a rally. We appealed to the court. But it seems that the dialogue that we also started to initiate with the authorities paid off.
“This is a very good first step for all of us and I hope that it will help us collect more participants to future actions.”
In addition to condemning homophobia, activists also called for equal rights for gays and lesbians.
The held banners reading: “Love who you want”, “Rights for gays and lesbians”, and “Homophobia = fascism”. Participants were shouting “Equal rights without compromise”, and “Belarus without homophobes”.
Moscow Pride chief organizer Nikolai Alexeyev, in an interview with Russian News Service expressed support for the Belarusian LGBT activists, calling today’s rally “a historic event”. He went on to say that the action opens the way for a Pride March in the capital of Belarus.
“The Belarusian regime is looking to get closer to Europe and we hope that in this regard the government will make some concessions towards LGBT people,” he said.
“Now there are hopes that a Pride March can finally be permitted and that the first NGO advocating for the rights of sexual minorities can be registered by the government,” Mr. Alexeyev said.
In May 2010, Minsk City Executive Committee banned an attempt to stage the Slavic Gay Pride March in the Belarusian Capital. Organisers decided to defy the ban and 12 participants were brutally arrested.