Belarusian LGBT-Activist Searched at Border
On the 14th of September, Natallia Mankouskaya, one of the leaders of the Belarusian LGBT-organisation GayBelarus, was forcibly taken off the train on the border between Ukraine and Belarus and subjected to a search. This is the latest in a series of incidents in which the Belarusian authorities have targeted members of GayBelarus.
The search was conducted on the morning of the 14th as Mankouskaya was returning to Belarus. Without any explanation, the border guards seized her searching her belongings as well as conducting a body search only releasing her after a three hour ordeal.
Mankouskaya believes that she was targeted by the border guards because of her activities in GayBelarus. Previously, this year, two of her colleagues were also subjected to similar searches while crossing the border.
“The authorities are obviously targeting GayBelarus activists, in retribution for the organisation’s ongoing efforts to exercise its right to freedom of association. We call upon the Belarusian authorities to stop harassing them.” According to Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders, “The international community should also condemn the harassment of those human rights activists working for the rights of LGBT-people”.
In January 2013, GayBelarus made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain legal registration under the name “Lambda”. In response to this, the Belarusian authorities initiated a campaign against the organisation by raiding gay clubs, holding “talks” with members, asking them about their activities and the activities of their chairman, Siarhei Androsenka. In fact, Androsenka has also faced a variety of problems. For example he was forced to move from his apartment after authorities put pressure on his landlord to evict him. The authorities’ pressure and restrictions on his civil liberties resulted in Androsenka temporarily leaving Belarus in June this year.