Country Details: Gay Rights and Culture in Belarus
Belarus LGBT Rights:
Homosexual Acts Legal? Yes
Same-sex Relationships Recognized? No
Same-sex Marriages Allowed? No
Same-sex Adoption Allowed? Some
◊ It is possible for a LGBT person to legally adopt the his/her partner’s biological children, but restrictions apply. However, it is not possible to adopt orphans, since adoptive couples must be married.
Can Gays Serve Openly in the Military? No
Anti-discrimination Laws? No
◊ The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. Sexuality is not included.
Legislature Concerning Gender Identity? No
◊ Citizens have no right to change their legal gender
Cultural Points of Interest:
Previously, as part of the Soviet Union, Belarus considered homosexuality illegal, a stance similar to others in the Soviet republics, but in 1994 the Parliament of Independent Belarus changed the criminal code to make homosexuality legal. However, LGBT people often face severe homophobia and extreme social disapproval. Belarus is also heavily Russian Orthodox, a religion that traditionally condemns homosexuality.
The 2010 Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide included the following about Belarus:
The Belarusian LGBT movement is one of the youngest in Europe. It operates in one of the most repressive political environments, nearly in full international isolation, without public support inside the country…the most important step in the near future is seen to be a public campaign to change the legislation affecting the relationship between NGOs and the government; that this will allow LGBT groups to work openly and more effectively. The second step is the promotion of antidiscrimination legislation.
Gay Belarus is a good source of news and information about the gay community in Belarus, and about Slavic pride. The founder of GayBelarus.by is an organizer of Slavic gay pride in Belarus, and co-organizer of Slavic pride in Moscow.
Gay.by is a portal for the Belarus LGBT community. It is a popular site, with event, news, and travel information.
Pride! – Provides LGBT news material for Belaurs including human rights reports and relevant international news.
Belarus Gay Guide - Provides information for those traveling to Belarus, including travel books.
Sunshine.by – A blog about being gay in Belarus