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Belarus May Raise Age Of Consent For Homosexuals

MINSK -- Belarusian authorities may raise the age of consent for homosexuals.

RFE/RL on February 13 obtained a letter signed by Deputy Health Minister Dzmitry Pinevich addressed to social groups opposing the criminalization of domestic violence, which says the ministry "stands for propaganda of traditional family values and supports proposed amendments to the criminal and administrative codes."

The Health Ministry "supports introduction of criminal and administrative liability for spreading information discrediting the institute of family and marriage relations. [The ministry] also stands for raising from 16 to 18 years the consent age for the activities of sexual character between individuals of the same sex," the letter said.

Health Ministry officials refused to comment on the letter, asking RFE/RL to provide them with a written request for comments and promising to answer all questions as soon as possible.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Belarus in 1994, but anti-gay sentiment among many Belarusians remains strong.

The Belarusian parliament said earlier this month that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka had asked them to amend the country's Criminal and Administrative codes. No details were provided at the time.

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