LGBT people subject to illegal police profiling
Last Friday night, July 21, police broke into an LGBT club in Minsk, Burlesque. Earlier, the place was raided on June 29. In both incidents, the guests were not arrested. But the visitors’ IDs were checked and the police asked them about their current employers. Representatives of the country’s LGBT community suggest that the police inspection was revenge for the “LGBT flower bed”, a protest staged by students of the theater laboratory Fortinbras, which were later punished by fines.
Besides exerting direct pressure on the community, the police raids are used for illegal profiling of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Belarus, Aleh Pashkevich of Viasna’s legal advice office said. As a result, people may be summoned for interrogation in sexual abuse cases only on the basis of being on the police database.
“It is obvious that to the Belarusian government the LGBT community is an “undesirable” social group. To them, we are just dropouts. Just like in Soviet times, they are profiling LGBT people for some reason. Copying the passport data of visitors to gay clubs is a violation of police procedures and an outrage against the right to privacy,” Andrei Zavalei, coordinator of the Delo Pi initiative, said.
An official statement by the city police department said the July 21 raid “targeted recreation facilities for possible offenses.”
“These raids are held regularly. This pressure has led to the fact that the Belarusian capital Minsk, a city with two million people, now has only one club hosting LGBT parties. The July 21 raid is the third one in the last six months, and it is obvious that it’s all linked to the homophobic statements by the Interior Ministry and the civil society’s reactions to these statements. The row is still underway, Vika Biran has been on trial for Facebook photos, and in the meantime, a homophobic gang in Homieĺ, which hunted young gays, remained virtually unpunished. It is obvious that the government is putting pressure on those who are trying to expose injustice and at the same time are loyal to criminals,” Andrei Zavalei added.
In October 2017, police “checked” another gay club in Minsk, Casta Diva. The raid involved riot police and personnel of the drug control department. Several visitors were taken to the police station and later released without a charge.