fredag 19 oktober 2012

Meeting Tupilak, ILGCN and other activists in Stockholm
and at the Gothenburg Book Fair

Rainbow Belarus Journalists Visit Sweden 

Stockholm/Gothenburg --  Joining Tupilak(Nordic rainbow cultural workers)  and ILGCN (international rainbow cultural network) representatives at Gothenburg's annual International Book and Library Fair (September 27-30, 2012) were Belarus journalist Aleh Hrubich of the newly-created Belarus LGBT Journal Network and  Darya Hushtyn, one of the few heterosexual journalists in her nation willing to support the network publically and helping with its legal battles against homophobia and discrimination in the Belarus media.

The two also participated in the Tupilak/ ILGCN presentation "Belarus -- Rainbows in Chains" from the main stage of the book fair's International Square -- which unites some 50 Swedish human rights organizations presenting their work at book tables, meeting the public and making stage presentations. 

"We were very happy to see groups at the International Square working for human rights in Belarus and we have made very valuable contacts at meetings in both Swedish cities," says Aleh Hrubich.  "The visit to this giant book fair was fascinating and we are already preparing reports on the fair, its support of Belarus human rights, language and culture -- and the many meetings with Swedish LGBT and other activists," adds Darya Hushtyn.


In the west coast port of Gothenburg and in the east coast capital of Stockholm,  the Belarus journalists interviewed and met with representatives from the International Square,  Sensus (the umbrella human rights organization), SIDA (Swedish International Development Authority),  LO-Bistånd  (Swedish labor union's foreign assistance organization), Civil Rights Defenders, the Swedish Institute, the president of RFSL-Sweden (the national LGBT rights organization), the head of RFSL-Gothenburg,  the  chairman of the Swedish PositHIVa gruppen, journalists and the publisher of the Swedish LGBT monthly pubication QX,  FRES (Swedish national trans organization), the IT's Swedish-Belarus solidarity stand, Östgruppen (Swedish-Eastern Europe solidarity group) and cultural workers of Tupilak and the ILGCN Information Secretariat -Stockholm.

"We have had several meeting with members of the very courageous Belarus LGBT Journalist Network before -- including at a "conference in exile" in Vilnius last year -- and the visit this time has enabled us to continue with these crucial solidarity contacts," adds Bill Schiller of Tupilak and the ILGCN.

At the IT's special "travelling Swedish-Belarus literary journeys in Belarus" which provides presentations by journalists, writers, translators, human rights activists and others, the ILGCN presented former Swedish Ambassador to Minsk, Stefan Eriksson, with its annual "Rainbow Iceberg" award for the support he and his embassy dipomats have given over the years to the LGBT community in Belarus and Swedish-Belarus LGBT co-operation.  (The Swedish Embassy in Minsk has been closed by the Lukashenko regime for its contacts with opposition activists.)

The Belarus journalists' visit to Stockholm and to the Gothenburg Book Fair --the biggest yearly cultural event in the entire Nordic region-- was made possible thanks to the Swedish Institute's fund for journalistic exchange.