61. On the 23 November 2006, the Special Representative, sent an urgent appeal concerning the detention of seven activists including Mr Vyacheslav Andreev, Ms Sviatlana Siarheichyk, Mr Svyatoslav Sementsov, Ms Tanya Ivanova, Mr Aleksei Filipenko, Ms Natallia Kavalchukand Mr Viachaslau Bortnik who promote the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons in Belarus and are current members of the Organising Committee of the International LGBT Conference which was due to be held in Minsk. According to the information received, on 8 November 2006, at approximately 8:20pm, the seven aforementioned persons were arrested and detained when the apartment in which they were holding a meeting, was broken into by the police. It is alleged that the police confiscated materials relating to the conference and brought the activists to the Zheleznodorozhnyi Borrow Police Department where they were questioned in relation to the schedule of the conference, the list of participants and the venue of the conference. Four of the activists were released after two hours but Vyacheslav Andreev, Svyatoslav Sementsov and Viachaslau Bortnik were detained until 5:30pm the following day. All were released without charge. However, the International LGBT Conference was cancelled by the organizers after their arrest. Concern was expressed that the events described above may represent attempts by the Belarusian authorities to prevent the activists from carrying out their legitimate activities, in particular raising attention to the situation of LGBT persons in Belarus. Furthermore there were concerns regarding reported amendments to the Criminal Code adopted on 15 December 2005 which may be used to detain members of LGBT groups, or discredit their legitimate activities.

71. The Special Representative reiterates her concerns that the charges imposed upon these human rights defenders were due to the organization’s activities to monitor the election in Belarus. She is also concerned that such amendments to the Criminal Code may be used to detain members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) groups, or discredit their legitimate activities and encourages the Government to reply to her communication of 23 November 2006.

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