Belarus drops diplomat gay porn charge writer

Belarus has dropped a gay pornography charge against a Latvian diplomat.

A feud emerged last August between officials in Belarus and neighbouring Latvia after Belarusian national television screened footage describing "a dirty homosexual orgy" claiming to involve a Latvian diplomat.

The report, which was followed by a criminal investigation by Belarusian Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov, accused Latvian diplomat Reimo Smits of distributing pornographic materials and appearing in footage of what is claimed to be the diplomat having sex with another man.

The issue outraged Latvian authorities and damaged relations between the two countries.

Now the Belarusian Prosecutor General's Office has issued a statement saying all charges have been dropped

The Latvian Foreign Ministry at the time claimed that the videocassettes were of footage of six-year-old Belarusian television news reports and criticised the Belarusian Secret Service for storming the apartment of the Latvian diplomat in Minsk.

Chair of Amnesty International Belarus, Viachaslau Bortnik, said the Belarusian government often uses homophobia to encourage resentment of the opposition, "Belarusian TV has often been used by the government to denounce "plots" organised by foreign diplomats to change the regime.

"The government-controlled media also tries to smear the opposition by associating it with homosexuality and their homophobic reports demonstrate that negative attitudes towards homosexuals exist at the highest levels of government.

"Although homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Belarus, homophobia is widespread and instances of harassment occurred in all spheres of society."