Belarus has criticised the British Embassy in Minsk for flying a rainbow flag on the International Day Against Homophobia.
The embassy marked the day on 17 May, posting a video on their Instagram account showing the flag flying between the Union Flag and the flag of the European Union at the building’s entrance.
Embassy officials wrote: “To support the LGBT community and draw public attention to the discrimination that LGBT people are constantly facing, the British Embassy posted a rainbow flag today.”
But Belarus said on Sunday that LGBT relationships are “fake” and that Britain was challenging Belarusians’ “traditional values”.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Belarus but it remains frowned upon by many.
Belarus is an ex-Soviet state ruled since 1994 by President Alexander Lukashenko, who has previously said that it is “better to be a dictator than gay”.
In its lengthy statement, the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs said the rainbow flag was a “symbol of people with non-traditional sexual orientation”, adding: “The initiative of a foreign state to create problems where they do not exist cannot be called good.”
The ministry said the day “was not and is not some kind of memorable and significant” one because “the overwhelming majority of Belarusians adhere to traditional family values, including Christian ones”.
“Representatives of same-sex relationships fiercely defend their position, despite the foundations and traditions established in the society,” the statement added.
“Whatever one may say, same-sex relationships are a fake.
“And the essence of forgery is always the same – the devaluation of truth. LGBT community, and all this struggle for “their rights”, and the very day of the community – just a fake!”
A spokeswoman for the British embassy said it would not make an official comment in response but said it regularly flies the rainbow flag on 17 May.
Earlier that day, British ambassador Fionna Gibb had spoken in a video on the embassy’s Twitter page, saying: “We must all address the legal, cultural and social change required to make equality a reality for LGBT people all over the world.”