Human rights defenders set to bring Belarus Interior Minister to book for homophobia

The Council of Ministers has informed Valyantsin Stefanovich, a lawyer at the Human Rights Center Viasna, of sending his appeal back to the General Prosecutor’s Office for consideration. The appeal contains a ‘brief instruction by a deputy prime minister’.

Earlier, HRC Viasna sent letters to the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigation Committee asking to look into the potential discrimination in the TV statements of Belarusian Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich. In December’s interview with the TV station ONT, Shunevich called members of sexual minorities ‘full of holes’.

“There is a certain category of citizens, excuse me for maybe a certain slang, but this is my term, my definition. I call them people full of holes. Some of them have made holes in the places that are not provided by nature, some of these holes are misused, some are a real hole, in education, in upbringing, in intellect, in culture. Some compile it all. They have one task, and they have one goal — to once again show off in the media, on the Internet, collect a certain amount of admiration, likes, and, of course, receive grants from their foreign curators, and to satisfy their painful ego,” Ihar Shunevich said.

Human rights activists believe that Shunevich’s statements are nothing less than incitement to discrimination, hostility to citizens of a country on a discriminatory basis like sexual orientation.

Thus, the Prosecutor General’s Office will be considering the appeal for for the second time. In their previous reply, prosecutors said that the minister ‘had expressed his personal opinion on certain issues’ when being interviewed. Moreover, the Investigative Committee stated there had not been any incitement to hatred in his answers. Notably, no linguistic examination was conducted. In turn, Stefanovich filed an appeal with the Council of Ministers on February, 7 asking to verify the facts indicated and, according to its results, to bring Ihar Shunevich to book.

Soviet Russia sentiment in full view: Belarus Interior Minister in NKVD uniform on Victory Day

Minister Ihar Shunevich hardly hides his affection for Josef Stalin and Soviet chekists, which can be seen in his numerous interviews and public appearances.

In May 2018, the Belarusian Ministry expressed resentment over the fact that the British Embassy in Minsk displayed a rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT community. British diplomats made such a move to draw public attention to LGBT people and the discrimination they face. The ministry’s controversial stance did not go unnoticed by foreign media.

“We are for true-life things, and they [LGBT] shall not pass!” the official statement said. The top officials called same-sex marriages and affairs ‘fake’.