LGBT people in Belarus opened their first Equality Festival at Minsk's Crowne Plaza hotel May 14. About 100 people attended, including some foreign diplomats.
"I commend and admire your courage," said Jean-Eric Holzapfel, head of the European Union's delegation to Belarus. "The EU promotes human-rights dialogue for tolerance and nondiscrimination vis-à-vis lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons."
Organizers' applications to stage a march were rejected by city authorities but two groups of activists held marches anyway on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
One march was terminated by police and 15 people were arrested, then released, according to reports.
In the other action, several activists from IDAHO-Belarus marched in central Minsk for 10 minutes with rainbow flags and a mock coffin to symbolize the death of freedom of assembly.
Police arrived at the march's endpoint and confiscated the coffin and other items but didn't arrest anyone.