A number of LGBT+ people have reportedly been detained in Belarus after raids on gay clubs in the capital city.
The Russian LGBT Network has reported that gay nightspots Burlesque and Casta Diva were raided by riot police on 20-21 October in Minsk, with eyewitness accounts saying that people were detained.
The reason for the detentions is not yet known, but it’s also been reported that a popular dating site for gay guys was not available to users from Belarus.
“There were 11 people from the OMON and several people in civilian clothes,” an eyewitness told the Russian LGBT Network.
“They asked to show their passports and copied data from them. One of them was taken from the club.”
The organisation has called upon the LGBT+ community in Belarus not to panic, as well as urging authorities to release the people who have been detained.
Belarus neighbours Russia in Eastern Europe, and homosexuality is legal in the country.
However, LGBT+ people face legal challenges in Belarus, and same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections that are available to heterosexual couples.
“The reports out of Belarus are alarming. It is alarming that police targeted legal businesses, violated the privacy of their patrons, demanded personal information, and dragged some away to detention,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord.
“The US government should raise these issues with their Belarusian counterparts and make it clear that the United States will not stand by while already-marginalized communities are targeted and attacked.”
People who are openly LGBT+ do face physical and verbal abuse in the country.
This latest report follows the current anti-gay crackdown in the Russian republic Chechnya, where numerous gay men have already been detained and tortured.
What’s more, Azerbaijan have reportedly arrested 60 people as part of an anti-LGBT campaign, with the authorities being backed by political parties for their alleged brutal actions – and some even calling for the raids to continue.