Gay rights activist taken off train, searched by customs officers

2013 2013-09-16T13:42:03+0300 2013-09-16T13:42:03+0300 en

A gay rights activist was ordered by Belarusian customs officers off a Minsk-bound train and searched at the Ukrainian border in the morning of September 14.

Natallya Mankowskaya, a leader of an unregistered gay rights group called Lambda, was returning from Ukraine when she was told to leave the train. Mikhail Matskevich, a human rights defender representing the Minsk-based Center for Legal Transformation who was travelling together with the woman, followed her to a customs office in a show of solidarity.

No illegal or suspicious items were found during the search and the activist was eventually allowed to continue her journey.

Ms. Mankowskaya said that she would make a formal complaint about the customs officers’ actions for failing to tell her the grounds for the search, according to her associates. In addition, she said that the officers had delayed the search to prevent her from catching the next train to Minsk.

At least two more gay rights activists were strip-searched and had their belongings and laptops examined carefully by Belarusian customs officers earlier this year.

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