Belarus Gay Activist Says British Company Fired Him Because He is Gay


The Editor of the Belorussian website, Alexander Poluyan, says he was fired by the local office of British American Tobacco (BAT) because he is gay.

Poluyan says he was forced to write a resignation letter  on October 11th by the head of the company’s communications department because he claimed that Poluyan had not done his duties. However Poluyan says that other employees told him it was because the department head had learned that he was a gay activist.

In a statement, BAT said that Poluyan had previously worked for them as a contractor and was employed on a one-year contract and was on probation. They say they knew he was the editor of when he was hired.

“During his probation period, it became apparent that Alexander was under performing against the agreed expectations and requirements of the job. Feedback was given to him on a number of occasions by his line manager and the HR department, in line with the company performance management policy.”

“Alexander was given fair and unbiased treatment during his employment with us and there were no incidents or suggestions of Alexander being treated differently or discriminated against because of his sexuality,” they said.

The company says that there are openly gay staff working for them in Belarus.

Poluyan says he received no feedback on his performance and that few staff knew he was gay because although he did not conceal it he did not talk about it until asked.

“I understand that now, BAT will protect there [sic] name and say that they tolerant towards homosexuals – it’s expected. I will not dispute the fact that in some countries towards homosexuals humane and tolerant, but the actions of some staff in the office in Belarus, shows the opposite,” he said.

“Having 8-year working experience, I’ve never faced a similar problem. My colleagues and friends have always known and know that I’m a gay, I live with my guy and that I am engaged in LGBT-activity. This case shows real position of homosexuals in the country where even employees of the international company, widely declaring about nondiscrimination on any basis, can’t accept a homosexual in the command. What should be said about conditions gays and lesbians are who work at public establishments?!” he said.

“Many people ask us what kind of homophobia we have in our country? What are the oppressions of gays and lesbians? Once again I felt this situation and I can share personal experience.”

Discrimination at work against LGBTs is legal is Belarus, where homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1994, and the state has a history of repressing LGBT organizing. Gay Pride has just been banned again in the capital, Minsk.

According to the results of a survey conducted by in April 2011, 65.6% of respondents have thought of leaving Belarus because of homophobia. Many LGBT Belorussians have claimed asylum in Western Europe.

British American Tobacco is a FTSE 100 company headquartered in London. Brands include Camel and Lucky Strike although the company has diversified, particularly into financial services. The UK Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke is a former Director.


Alexander Poluyan picture from


Zoe B.
Zoe B6 years ago

Robert, I'm talking about his gay agenda. Yes, as a self proclaimed activist, it means he is pushing it, that he probably can't have a conversation more than twenty minutes without the "issue" being brought up, it is constantly on his mind, and what he thinks life is all about.

In other words, I feel like he's using his sexuality as an excuse, because he doesn't want to face up to the real reason he was fired- because he was underperforming at duties.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

I didn't finish my first sentence. The company needs to be punished for allowing this to happen.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

Discrimination is wrong and should not be permitted by any entity. They need to be

Christine S., try looking at this issue in the context of it being discrimination against a human being which is wrong and illegal, rather than seeing it as a story about someone working for a tobacco company.

Zoe B., when you say "push his agenda", what agenda are you referring to? If you mean a gay agenda, he's not pushing that at all. If you mean a human rights agenda, that's what he's advocating for since nobody should face discrimination for any reason. That includes race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc. Everybody deserves equality and equal rights.

Jan N. you're nothing more than an intolerant bigot that has decided that GLBT people are less than human and it's their lot in life to take whatever treatment (illegal or otherwise) that's dished out to them. I pity you and the other close-minded, homophobic bigots on this site and all around the world.

Catt R.
Catt R6 years ago

Jan N..... are you saying that it is right and moral to discriminate against someone if the country has not made such discrimination illegal? with your remark "The author also says that discrimination at work against LGBTs is legal is Belarus, so if that’s the case he has no recourse anyway and no particular reason to be crying about it in public other than giving the company some PR grief internationally as a means of revenge."
It sounds as if you feel he should just keep quiet and accept abuse as proper treatment because he is after all 'less than' in your mind, you personally do not approve of gays so you feel they should not be treated as if they were human........??????? IT MUST BE INCREDIBLY SAD TO BE YOU....... I am sorry that you can not find humanity within yourself.

Emma S.
Emma S6 years ago

I hope there's a proper and thorough tribunal.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago

Whether British, American or any other western country company doing business in places like Belarus they have the local folks as workers and supervisors and they are all going to play by the Belerusians rules. That's not to condone it, that's only to say western country's companies should be very careful of which countries they do business in or they may find that defending themselves is a little difficult. A doubt very seriously this would happen in Brittan but if it did it would not go unnoticed or punished.

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago


Terry T.
Terry T6 years ago

And Jan N. it seems that your "opinion" is far more slanted than the article but the real question remains, if you feel Care2 is so "agenda driven" what precisely is the reason you post here? If it IS agenda Driven your posts will change nothing and if it isn't agenda driven your homophobia becomes extremely apparent.

Igor Sinelnikoff
Igor Sinelnikoff6 years ago

It's really strange, that international company has dismissed because of sexual orientation. I'm sure, that if Polyan worked in London or in Berlin, he would hasn't such problem.And certainly his chief was belorussian, but not British or American.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago

Appalling - take them to an employment tribual.