Belarusian President: "Better to Be a Dictator Than Gay"

March 5, 2012

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko © STR/AFP/Getty Images

It sounds like a line from Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming comedy The Dictator, but it actually came from a real dictator.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of ex-Soviet Belarus, said “better to be a dictator than gay” when responding to European criticism of the country’s democratic record. He was alluding to the sexual orientation of some European Foreign Ministers.

President Alexander Lukashenko has been ruling Belarus with an iron fist for almost 18 years. The country’s population is under 10 million and has faced sanctions. Belarus is one of the least democratic in Europe, and is Europe’s only country to have the death penalty.

Belarus is dependent on Russia, both politically and economically, and the Lukashenko regime couldn’t probably survive without an alliance with Moscow. Homophobia is big in both countries.

On February 29, 2012, the legislature of St. Petersburg, Russia, overwhelmingly adopted a bill that criminalizes “homosexual propaganda,” basically any public display of (what may be perceived as) homosexuality.

Take a second to urge St. Petersburg’s executive to not sign the bill into law.