Disinfo: Western embassies impose same-sex marriages to divide Belarusian society

Summary

The LGBT flag waved by the British embassy in Belarus brings destructive consequences to Belarusian society. The US, Swedish and Israel embassies as well as the UN and WHO offices in Belarus also issued statements in support of the LGBT community. Belarusian opposition forces, civic campaigners, human rights defenders and independent media support ‘holers’ [the term used to describe LGBT by former Belarusian Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich] consider May 17th a more important day than Victory Day (May 9th). The promotion of same-sex marriages by foreign actors is aimed to divide Belarusian society, which values family over foreign perversions. Nevertheless, the Belarusian opposition along with the British Embassy continues to impose their values on the whole society.

Disproof

This message is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the morally corrupt West and threatened traditional values, as well as the West's aggressive actions towards Belarus and Belarusian society. It is also aimed at discrediting the democratic Belarusian opposition, civil society and independent media. The UK and other Western embassies did not promote same-sex marriages in Belarus. The British Embassy in Minsk showed support for equal rights for Belarusian LGBT people by flying a rainbow flag for the International Day Against Homophobia. After the Belarusian Interior Ministry slammed the UK embassy in Minsk for flying a rainbow flag on the International Day Against Homophobia in 2018, UK Ambassador Fiona Gibb posted a video stating "We do so not to promote LGBT, but to promote equal rights for this community. LGBT people are not asking for special rights, but simply to enjoy the same respect, dignity and rights as others. As human rights are universal and should apply equally to all people, my government is committed to non-discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity." According to the May 2019 Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, the systematic restrictions on the freedom of expression, assembly and association in Belarus lead to discrimination against the LGBTI community. Belarusian legislation does not have any laws specifically protecting sexual minorities from discrimination. The report reads: "Article 64.9 of the Criminal Code foresees aggravating circumstances for crimes motivated by “hatred or hostility towards any social group”. However, the term “social group” is very vague and prosecutions taking into account the article in regard to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community are reported as rare.” See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the UK embassy in Belarus promotes genocidal and self-destructive policies, that the whole Belarusian opposition has become an LGBT community to get financial assistance from the UK, that pro-Western Belarusian opposition prefers commemorating WWII events with swastikas and LGBT symbols and that Schengen visa fees for Belarusians are high, because the number of homosexuals per capita in Belarus is very low.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 158
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 23/05/2019
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Country: UK, Israel, Sweden, US, Belarus
  • Keywords: Western values, West, European Union, LGBT, Conspiracy theory
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No proof of Russian meddling in Western elections

For weeks and months, the media and governments in the EU have been warning against Russian influence in the elections. Now the elections to the EU Parliament are just around the corner – only we are still waiting for indications of manipulation by the evil Russians. Despite the EU elections and the drama, there seems to be no trace of any Russian interference. This was also the case with other elections in Europe, the results of which ran counter to the wishes of the political and media establishment. Whenever things went wrong, it was simply the Russians.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that allegations of Russian interference in electoral processes in the EU and in the West are spread by European elites in order to divert attention from the real problems of the EU countries. Attempts of election meddling by Russia are already well documented. Investigations were conducted by the authorities of various countries, Parliament's committee (UK) , as well as by journalists. Numerous investigations have provided convincing evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and in elections across Europe and in the US. Thus, in the US, 126 million people were reached on social media by Russia-linked users, 29 million of them have seen the content "directly". See more information here, here and here. Ahead of the European elections 2019, Microsoft registered cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organisations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy, that are often in contact with government officials. Microsoft continues to investigate the source of these attacks, but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Read more here. See here for the list of the reports on Russian efforts to influence elections in various European countries.

New OPCW-report questions official findings about chemical attack in syrian Douma

A new report written by an engineer from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) emerged. The report challenges the official OPCW report from March, which accused Damascus of being behind the Douma incident from last April. However, the new report now suggests that the gas canisters were placed by hand at the site of the attack, possibly by rebels active in the area. In the West, these revelations were virtually ignored. Several prominent activists criticised the mainstream media for their lack of coverage. In addition, the White Helmets operate exclusively in areas controlled by militants and are accused of cooperating with extremists and staging chemical attacks.

Disproof

Recurring disinformation narratives deflecting blame for chemical attacks from the Assad regime; painting the White Helmets as cooperating with extremists; and aiming to discredit the OPCW. The "never-before-seen-report" appears to be an engineering assessment carried out by one individual who, contrary to RT Deutsch's false claim, was never a member of the Fact-Finding Mission and is not currently employed by the organisation. The individual, however, was affiliated with the OPCW as an engineer and apparently had access to materials gathered in the course of the Douma FFM, and based his/her conclusions on the same evidence pool. An OPCW press statement confirms that "all information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma." The OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question. Regardless of the leaked document's authenticity, its conclusion that the cylinders could not have been dropped from helicopters: a) has been addressed in the actual OPCW report on Douma (Annex 6, pp. 55-56); b) does not support the outlandish claim that the incident was staged "and designed to frame the Syrian government." The White Helmets have not once been "busted" staging anything, see our debunking on the subject for more details.

The Ukrainian Navy deliberately violated Russian territorial waters during the Kerch strait incident

On 25 November 2018, three ships of the Ukrainian Navy deliberately violated Russian territorial waters during their passage from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. When the three warships reached Russian territorial waters, they received a warning from the security forces of the Russian Navy and were asked to change course. However, they ignored the calls, triggering a chase in the Kerch Strait, in which shots were fired and three Ukrainian marines were lightly wounded. As a result, the Ukrainian warships were detained and brought to Kerch.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation on Ukraine and the Azov Sea. In this incident, Russia deliberately blocked the Kerch Strait in order to prevent the passage of a naval group of the Ukrainian Navy. On 25 November 2018, three Ukrainian war ships were moving “in accordance with the provisions of all effective multilateral and bilateral international treaties and navigation rules”. The Ukrainian war ships were seized and their crews were detained, despite the fact that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states that “all ships, including foreign warships, enjoy the right of “innocent passage” within another state’s territorial sea under international law.” On 25 November, border patrol boats belonging to Russia’s FSB security service seized the two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and their whole crews after shooting at them, wounding several Ukrainian servicemen. A bilateral treaty between Russia and Ukraine, signed in 2003 and ratified by Russia in 2004, governs the use of the Kerch strait and the Sea of Azov, which in the treaty is considered to be the “internal waters” of both Russia and Ukraine.