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ILGCN and Tupilak Press Statement

The International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network, and Tupilak express their anger and concern at the message being distributed by a Mr. Nikita Ivanov in relation to the Pride events planned for Minsk, Belarus recently. It is the moral duty of any journalist to check the reliability of his sources in such a delicate matter. That the allegations should be widely distributed without any apparent concern for the damage they will do to the movement for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) liberation in Belarus, and possibly other places in Eastern Europe, and also without any evidence of the truth of the accusations, is quite unacceptable. The allegations made in the information circulated are that the 2nd Belarus Pride in Minsk, September 7-10, was deliberately planned by the organizers so that the authorities would cancel the events - in order to obtain more funds from West sources. Perhaps other LGBT organisations have the possibility of checking the truth or otherwise of such statements, we have neither the time, nor a secret service to do so. It is not clear to us whether the allegations are based on personal dislike, jealousy, or are the product of a homophobia which has been especially active in recent months in Rome [1], Warsaw, Bucharest [2] and Moscow, -- or even whether the accusations are a controversial representation of the truth. Which, however, we strongly doubt. It is in any case the duty of the LGBT people in Belarus to solve the problem, not for Russians, Swedes or anyone else to send a gay gun-boat. The message circulated seemingly violates one of the sacred principles of international solidarity since the days of Stonewall and before. No-one has the authority, credibility, or capability to tell colleagues in a 3rd nation how - or how not-to run their struggle.

We in the ILGCN & Tupilak, some of whom have been at the wrong end of a gun in Romania during gay cultural activities, have given every assistance we can in the use of culture in the struggle for equality for sexual minorities, especially in Eastern Europe, and that often at high personal expense. Our help to those struggling against the enormous odds of social ignorance [4] political and religious bigotry is based on the conviction that just as there is an international "solidarity" between bigots, racists and homophobes, there is a great need for real solidarity within the LGBT movement. We can only condemn the hasty circulation of such accusations as damaging to all concerned and to put in mildly, unhelpful. Of course, the organizers of the Belarus Prides probably made mistakes. We - despite our years of experience-make mistakes in arranging our own LGBT cultural / political events in Sweden, the Nordic region and elsewhere because of stress, lack of funds, and human frailty. Constructive criticism is more than welcome - even by well-meaning foreigners. But attacking people who are on the gay rights barricades is quite unacceptable.

The 5th ILGCN World Conference on Lesbian & Gay Culture is due to be held in Minsk in 2002. We have no reason to withdraw the right to hold that conference, on the contrary we will give every possible assistance to the LGBT activists to organise an effective and useful conference, and invite others to support them within the limits of their own resources. Perhaps Nikita Ivanov and others responsible for giving aid and comfort to the "enemy" would be willing to come to that 2002 Conference or the 3rd Belarus Pride next year and discuss the very real problems - and how to solve them.

On the other hand, there is a great need for additional energy and personal dedication in organizing LGBT events or, for instance, developing a stronger voice in Amnesty International for gay rights, especially in countries where groups are non-existent or inactive. We do however, urge most strongly that our limited energies, time and money be used in a more positive direction - not in giving homophobic governments and churches [5] around the globe something to chuckle over - at our expense.

Bill Schiller,
(25 years an activist in amnesty and gay organisations)
chairman of Swedish Tupilak (organization of LGBT workers in the Nordic area), co-ordinator of ILGCN -Nordic - who was in Minsk for the Pride events

Paul-Peter Hallberg,
Offical Tupilak & ILGCN Photographer - who was in Minsk for the Pride events

Colin de la Motte-Sherman,
retired Journalist and teacher, (40 years activist in peace, trade union and gay organisations), ILGCN Co-ordinator Berlin, and Editor of Erato, journal of the ILGCN

Rod Evan,
ILGCN-Co-ordinator Netherlands, theatre director.

to ILGCN co-ordinators,
Tupilak Nordic co-ordinators,
Swedish Homosexual Socialists;
Amnesty International contacts,
ILGA contacts,
BLL, Minsk.


[1] Pope John Paul II bitterly denounced the gay pride festival in Rome as offensive to Christians and said that homosexual acts are "contrary to natural law." John Paul expressed what he called "bitterness for the insult" of having the festival "during the grand Jubilee of the year 2000 and for the offence to Christian values in a city that is so dear to the heart of Catholics all over the world." (New York Times)

[2] the country's Orthodox Church leaders, called "The Holy Synod", had decided to urge parliament not to remove the controversial "article 200", which incriminates homosexuality, from the penal code" Everybody should know that homosexuality is a sin against religious, and against family and social values, which are at the core of our Church," The Orthodox Church, which claims the allegiance of 87 percent of Romanians, insists that homosexuality, which has been illegal in Romania since 1968, runs counter to Christian values. (Reuters. Sept 12.)

[3] SAO PAULO, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Brazilian police defused a letter bomb sent to a gay rights group on Wednesday in what activists said was the latest threat in a neo-Nazi terror campaign. The package was the second bomb sent to rights' campaigners in 24 hours in Sao Paulo after a local Amnesty International director received a letter bomb on Tuesday. Both parcels contained a scrawled swastika. (Amnesty International)

[4] Two sex workers have been killed, with the apparent acquiescence of the police, in the capital, Guatemala City. Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of other sex workers in the city.

[5] The (Polish) newspaper Zycie on 14 July carried the headline, "Homosexuals' strategy ever more reminiscent of Bolshevik methods and tactics". The author, Piotr Semka, analysed the seditious means the gay media Homosexuals Semka suggests, eagerly make anti-Catholic alliances with Lutherans, Methodists, Jews. This is exactly like the Bolsheviks who, though weak, tried to take power by deceit." (The Independent, London)


Failure of Belarus Gay Pride 2000 Was Staged to Get More Grants
The initial article, to which this statement is a response.

Response from a Belarus Citizen
Belarus citizens do care who and how protects - or claims to protect - their rights.

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