The Belarussian government has been using homophobic taunts in the media to curb protests against the controversial re election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Government owned media outlets have called the protests a “blue revolution” and labelled anyone involved in the protests as sexually perverted, child abductors or drug addicts in an attempt to stir up support from homophobes who would be repelled from taking part, says Svyatoslav Sementsov of the TEMA gay group.

More than 10,000 Belarusian citizens took to the streets last week in Minsk to celebrate Freedom Day. Protesters stood chanting slogans such as “Long live Belarus!” and “We want Freedom!”

Police used gas pots, noise shells, and tear-gas to disperse the demonstrators, who were addressed by opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich. Mr Milinkevich called for truth and free elections

The opposition has received political backing from the European Union (EU) and United States, where Mr Lukashenko a “dictator”.

The EU has called on the government to allow protests and freedom of speech in the country and release prisoners arrested at the demonstrations or face “restrictive measures.”