Viasna asks UN Special Rapporteur to intercede for LGBT activist Vika Biran
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" has written to Mr. David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, asking him to intervene in the case of LGBTQ+ activist Vika Biran, who was convicted for publicly expressing her civil position towards a homophobic article posted on the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In their address, the human rights activists describe the case, which was prompted by the flowing of a rainbow flag on the building of the British Embassy on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, May 17. This triggered a homophobic publication and a similar statement by Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich. LGBT activist Vika Biran reacted to the events by staging a protest and was later found guilty of illegal picketing.
Viasna stresses that Vika Biran denied the very fact of staging a picket, saying that what she did was posing for a series of photographs with the poster “You Yourselves Are a Fake” in response to the column posted on the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This act stemmed from the activist’s civil position in response to the homophobic statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
However, in both cases, the Belarusian courts qualified the photographs as one-person pickets.
“In violation of para. 3 of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the courts of the Centralny and Maskoŭski districts of the city of Minsk, which subjected Vika Biran to judicial harassment, did not substantiate the necessary and permissible restrictions on free expression. The judges who examined the administrative cases against Vika Biran did not establish how photographing with the poster “You Yourselves Are a Fake” against the backdrop of the buildings of the Government House and the Ministry of Internal Affairs was threatening state security, public order, health and morality of people,” says the letter asking to put an end to harassment of the activist.