Belarusian lawmakers consider anti-LGBTQ+ bill

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Belarusian lawmakers to soon consider anti-LGBTQ+ bill

Introduction to the New Legislation

In Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, a legislative proposal has been introduced in Belarus that seeks to criminalize the promotion of homosexuality and similar behaviors. This initiative comes as part of a relentless suppression of dissent, a campaign that has been ongoing since 2020 under the direction of Belarus’s authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko.

Details of the Proposed Bill

The nation’s chief legal officer, Andrei Shved, revealed on Thursday that the forthcoming bill intends to penalize the promotion of “abnormal relationships, pedophilia (and) voluntary refusal to have children,” although specific details regarding penalties remain undisclosed. This bill is expected to be reviewed by the Belarusian legislature, which operates under Lukashenko’s tight control.

Shved expressed on state TV, “The activities of opponents who are trying to destroy traditional family values, and therefore morality and statehood, are generally aimed at destroying Belarus as a country,” emphasizing the need to curb any discussions on these subjects and to implement extensive ideological education, especially in schools.

Read also : Belarus Prepares Law Against ‘LGBT Propaganda

Context and Background

Belarus decriminalized homosexuality in 1994 but has not embraced same-sex marriage. Despite its conservative and predominantly Orthodox backdrop, the nation lacks measures to safeguard LGBTQ+ rights against discrimination.

Lukashenko, who has maintained his rule over Belarus for three decades, has been vocal in his criticism of homosexuality, famously stating, “it is better to be a dictator than to be gay.” Reports from human rights bodies indicate that the Belarusian KGB has been pressuring LGBTQ+ individuals, often threatening to expose their sexual orientation.

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The LGBTQ+ community faces significant societal stigma, with noted instances of high suicide rates attributed partly to the lack of accessible professional mental health support.

According to ILGA-Europe’s 2023 report, Belarus was ranked 45th among 49 nations in terms of LGBTQ+ freedoms in Europe and Central Asia, with state-backed propagandists frequently inciting against LGBT activists.

Broader Implications and International Context

Following a controversial election in August 2020, which was widely criticized by both domestic opposition and international observers, the suppression of dissent has intensified. Consequently, many LGBTQ+ individuals have fled Belarus, seeking asylum in countries like the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States.

Belarus’s actions mirror those of its ally Russia, which enacted a law against “gay propaganda” in 2013, aimed at suppressing “non-traditional” sexual relationships. In a significant move in November 2023, the Russian Supreme Court designated the LGBTQ+ “movement” as an extremist group, reflecting the broader regional crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights under the guise of protecting “traditional family values,” a principle heavily endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his tenure.

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