Rainbow Flag publicly paraded this afternoon for the first time in
MINSK, April 26, 2008 – When
Sergey Androsenko, the 19 year-old leader of the Gay Youth Association in
Belarus, paraded the gay “Rainbow Flag” through the streets of Minsk this
afternoon, a little piece of LGBT history was made.
It was the very first time that the
flag had been seen on a political event in Belarus [video of the march at
end of article].
Gay men and women joined the rally
and march, staged to mark the 22nd anniversary of the nuclear
power station accident at Chernobyl in neighbouring Ukraine.
The crowd, which reached more than
1,000, started gathering at the square in front of the National Academy of
Sciences at 2 pm for a short rally followed, with speeches by leaders of the
With the promise of protection from
the rest of the participants, the young Mr. Androsenko raised the Rainbow
Flag and paraded it on the 2-mile march to a church built to commemorate
Chernobyl victims at the intersection between Arlowskaya and Karastayanavay
Sergey Androsenko, the leader of the Gay Youth
Association in Belarus.
photo courtesy Pride.by
He was accompanied by other gays –
all were totally surrounded by their “protectors”.
The march was not on the street
itself, but along the sidewalks, taking more than two hours to reach its
But at one stage, some 100 youths
separated from the crowd and briefly entered the roadway before organisers
intervened and managed to talk them into returning to the sidewalks – the
only incident of the day.
After reaching the church, the
crowd observed a minute of silence for those who died of illnesses caused by
the Chernobyl nuclear fallout and laid flowers at a monument commemorating
The demonstrators started
dispersing shortly afterward.
“Police did not interfere and no
arrests were reported,” said Svyatoslav Sementsov, the co-president
of the TEMA LGBT group.
“[Today] will definitely become a part of Belarusian LGBT history as a date
of beginning of cooperation between civil society and LGBT movement – and a
date of pride when LGBT activists didn’t worry about becoming visible.”