Next Stop: London, October 7-9, 2005
Stockholm An international cultural and political solidarity event in support for rainbow colleagues in Europes last dictatorship took place in the Swedish capital September 23-24, 2005 with seminars, art, song, music, poetry and pledges of future support from a number of human rights organizations.
Our Nordic-supported events in Minsk have earlier been attacked and harassed by police and threatened by both the regime and neo Nazis so a happening in exile seemed to be the only possibility, says Bill Schiller, secretary general of the ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) Information Secretariat in Stockholm.
This meeting is very important for us, since the difficult situation for all NGO human rights group in Belarus is getting worse, maintains Slava Bortnik, head of the Belarus LGBT Amnesty International group. His visit to Stockholm was made possible by the Swedish Institute.
The Stockholm meeting also included a focus on the lesbian and gay rights situation in Estonia and Latvia only a few years ago part of the Soviet empire and even today facing homophobic press and politicians, bomb threats and neo Nazi attacks.
Support from the Stockholm Nordic Council Office
Several Belarus delegates were trying to attend our Moonbow festival in Tallinn this year, but they were stopped at their border, says Krissu of Mea Culpa of the ILGCN Womens Secretariat and co-organizer of the pioneering Moonbow festival in Estonia. We are also still fighting against very negative media coverage of lesbians and gays, and neo Nazis harassing the Pride march. Her travel to Stockholm was sponsored by the Nordic Councils information office, Norden i Fokus, which also provided one of the venues for festival seminars.
The Latvian movement is still plagued by an enormous fear of coming out in a situation where neo Nazis and other homophobes especially from the large Russian minority -- join forces against lesbians and gays, says Swedish veteran activist, Kjell Rindar, who has been teaching at Latvian universities.
Festival participants agreed to join forces to hold an underground stage of next years ILGCN world homo cultural conference in Minsk -- October, 2006 (see separate press release) and continue with exile festivals in Poland and elsewhere to help break the isolation of the lesbian, gay and trans community in Belarus.
Support for such meetings and other solidarity work with Belarus been expressed during the festival by representatives of the Swedish Helsinki Committee for human rights, the LGBT group of Swedish Amnesty, and the Swedish Parliaments LGBT group.
The follow-up Moonbow in exile for Belarus event takes place in London, 7-9 October, 2005 -- organized by the ILGCN Literature Secretariat and others. The moonbow comes from the name of the alternative, international events organized in recent years on both sides of the Baltic Sea.
Supporters for the Stockholm event include the ILGCN, the Nordic Homo Council, Tupilak (Nordic homo cultural workers), and the Nordic Rainbow Humanists.