Homophobia at the Belarusian Red Cross: Statement by the Secretary General

Октябрь 21, 2022
Логотип ECOM для новостей
On October 19, 2022, a Belarusian information portal Zerkalo published that Dmitry Shevtsov, Secretary General of the Belarusian Red Cross Society, made several homophobic statements during a program on the STV TV channel.

“There are some non-traditional relationships between sexes. It's unnatural, it's a mental illness. And these are things we have to talk about. After all, the child looks at the family. If the family has normal human values, if the society is intolerant of this kind of perversion.” Shevtsov also stated that “this is nevertheless a mental disorder and disease, so it must be treated” and that “non-traditional values are promoted through cartoons and teen films ... to destroy entire civilizations, countries, societies”. These are outrageous words coming from the head of a national humanitarian organization.

On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality and bisexuality from the list of mental disorders. After the adoption of the WHO's ICD-11, on May 25, 2019, transgenderness was moved from the mental disorders section to the sexual health section .

However, LGBT people still face discrimination even from healthcare professionals — people who are supposed to be less subject to prejudice than others.

The ICRC points out that LGBT persons are "often among the least protected of all groups".

The context of LGBT people's life in the Republic of Belarus should be mentioned here. In recent years, the government of Belarus has continued to persecute the country's LGBT community — through law enforcement agencies, in state and pro-government media including social media. Police departments in Belarus are forcing the detainees to talk on camera about their personal lives. A state Telegram channel Zheltye Slivy publishes videos and posts that offend not only individuals, but entire organizations. LGBT activists are being detained for participating in peaceful assemblies, and over the past year there has been a dramatic increase in the level of mass emigration of human rights advocates who have real grounds to believe that they may be subjected to further repressions.

In this regard, ECOM considers the statements of the representative of the Red Cross Society unacceptable and inciting hatred against LGBT people.

Such statements by an official representative of the Red Cross Society are contrary to the fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement itself, in particular, the principle of humanity, which says that "The Movement's purpose is to ... ensure respect for every human being", and the principle of impartiality, which states that "The Movement makes no discrimination".

We acknowledge the important role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in the world, whose purpose is to protect and improve the lives of vulnerable people, mobilizing the humanitarian potential of society and guaranteeing respect for the individual .

Therefore, we ask the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to disavow these statements of the Secretary General of the Belarusian Red Cross Society Dmitry Shevtsov and take steps to eradicate homophobia and transphobia in the Movement.


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