by Rex Wockner
Bay Windows Contributor
Gays in Belarus staged the nation's first-ever authorized public gay event Feb. 14 in Minsk, reported GayRussia.ru.
The LGBT group IDAHO Belarus held a rally against homophobia in a park near the Justice Ministry, with approval from the city's Executive Committee and police department.
The small group carried banners reading, "Love who you want" and "Homophobia = fascism."
About two dozen journalists covered the rally, outnumbering the protesters.
"For the first time the only thing that we feared was neither the police nor the homophobe hooligans but the cold," organizer Sergey Praded told GayRussia. "This is a very good first step."
Last year, the city's Executive Committee banned the gay pride march. When activists ignored the ban, several were aggressively arrested for taking part in an unsanctioned public action.
Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alekseev, who joined that march, said police were "brutal and violent."
"I've never run so fast in my life," he said.
He and activist Ira Fet evaded arrest by running into a building and hiding in a trash room for 20 minutes.