Digest coverage of LGBTQ Issues in the Belarusian Mass Media the third quarter of 2023
The third quarter of 2023 was marked by a significant increase in the mentioning of LGBTQ+ topics in pro-government and independent media.
One of the main reasons is the initiation by the General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus of the draft law «On administrative responsibility for the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations, gender correction, pedophilia and child-free ideas».
The initiative became the basis for another round of hate speech by propagandists and pro-government activists. Although, as experts note, the absence of such a law did not prevent the homophobic rhetoric of the regime and its officials.
In this regard, it is important to consider this narrative, its causes and possible predictions. Iryna Sidorskaya, PhD and expert in the field of Communications deals with this field.
A significant part of materials in the pro-government media is devoted to the situation with the LGBTQ+ community outside Belarus, mainly in Europe and the USA. Several articles were also devoted to the upcoming elections in Poland from the point of view that this country is governed by the so-called «collective West».
The main message of such publications is not new: «Look how bad it is there, and Belarus is a haven of stability, and traditional values are preserved here.»
Here is a typical quote: “We know that Europe knows how to play the long game and always makes far-sighted plans.
And while they create a new controlled crowd, we, Belarusians, will create a strong institution of traditional family, so that our children do not fall on the hook of European debauchery and LGBT propaganda.»
A frequent guest of our Digest, Volha Bondarava, whom many have called an «info-Cossack», acts as a guardian of «traditional values». The list of her new successes includes the modification of a series of advertisements series of advertisements for the school season, in which she saw “LGBT propaganda”, by the country’s largest retailer.
It is worth noting that Ms. Bondarava also has setbacks: law enforcement agencies rejected her application to close down the «Litouka» agritourism complex, failing to find there «propaganda of the cult of violence and cruelty», including LGBT-themed paintings.
Apparently, with the deterioration of the economic situation in Belarus, homophobic rhetoric from the regime will increase, since, quoting Iryna Sidorskaya, «Lukashenko needs to earn political capital first of all. First, to find enemies. He cannot accept the point of view that what he built does not work. That people live poorly, they do not see prospects. It is better to show that some enemies are to blame. Here is the collective West, plus there is also a fifth column inside Belarus. And that apart from the “fighters”, this fifth column also includes the people of, as he names it, «non-traditional sexual orientation».
… A dictator can never effectively lead a complex system. The dictator tries to simplify the world, not to see all its shades, not to see different social groups, but to divide it into black and white. This is the picture of reality that, as it seems to me, Lukashenka possesses.»