Police officers in civilian clothes raided an LGBT club in Minsk on the night between February 1 and 2, arresting dozens of partygoers, gay rights activists Syarhey Androsenka said.
At least eight police officers entered the 6A club, ordering all those inside to produce their passports. Some of the club visitors were brought to a police station and had their passport details taken down before being released without charges. One of the partygoers was dragged into a police vehicle and handcuffed after demanding that the plainclothesmen identify themselves and show their documents, rights activist Natallya Mankowskaya told BelaPAN.
The police told the arrestees that their raid was connected with the activity of gay rights leader Syarhey Androsenka, who they said "does things that he should not do."
Mr. Androsenka had his passport seized by authorities after returning to Belarus from a trip abroad some two weeks ago and has not been given the document back so far.
In January, police raided LGBT parties at the 6A club in Minsk and a club in Vitsyebsk, blocking the exits and taking down the passport details of all those present.
Rights defenders have linked the crackdown on the country’s gay community to attempts to get Lambda, a gay rights organization led by Mr. Androsenka, registered by the justice ministry. At least 60 Lambda founders have been interviewed by police in eight cities since the group applied to the ministry for registration.
"This is unprecedented pressure on the Belarusian LGBT community on the part of the authorities, I can only guess at the true reasons for and the consequences of this persecution," said Mr. Androsenka.
Ms. Mankowskaya said that the crackdown was aimed at destroying the organization and making it less attractive in the eyes of young people.
According to rights activists, people have been increasingly wary of visiting gay clubs since the beginning of the crackdown.