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Kyrgyzstan to vote on ‘gay propaganda’ ban

By Tom Ana
Editor of Caucasus Equality News

Kyrgyzstan is located between Kazakstan and China (Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Kyrgyzstan is located between Kazakstan and China (Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A committee of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament this week approved a proposed “gay propaganda” ban, moving the bill one step closer to being brought into law.

The ban will now go up for vote in the nation’s assembly this Thursday, Oct. 9.

Under the proposed ban, heavily modeled on current Russian laws, any individuals found guilty of spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” would face up to a year behind bars. The ban would also outlaw LGBT rights and advocacy groups and make the discussion of LGBT issues with a minor an arrestable act.

Proponents of the bill claim that the ban would “defend the institution of the traditional family.” The bill’s sponsor, member of parliament Kurmanbek Dykanbaev, told RFE that “under the West’s influence, the norm of same-sex families is being imposed upon us.”

As a country with a mostly conservative religious population Kyrgyzstan has faced much public opposition to the LGBT community in recent years. Formerly Soviet Kyrgyzstan is also heavily influenced by Russia, which supports the proposed bill.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has previously supported the efforts of many nations to pass laws similar to Russia’s in an attempt to build solidarity against Western and European human rights laws, which often influence many former-Soviet countries.

The government of Kyrgyzstan is also keen to maintain good relations with Russia, as a potential member of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union that will come into effect in January. The EEU will create a single economic market across Russia and other member states and is predicted to be a huge economic boost for poorer member countries. Kyrgyzstan has previously expressed a desire to join the union, though Russia has yet to approve the application.

If the bill is passed tomorrow, it is expected to take effect later this month.

OPPOSITION

Kyrgyz LGBT activists
“Kyrgyzstan plea: Please help oppose anti-gay bill” (July 2014, 76crimes.com):

Kyrgyz LGBT activists cite:

  • Negative effects of the bill on the LGBTI communities, their health, rights and freedoms, as well as on the general political and social situation in Kyrgyzstan.
  • The bill is one of many other anti human rights legislative initiatives that contribute to a shrinking space for civil society.

European officials
Kyrgyzstan on the verge of adopting harsh anti-gay law (June 2014, 76crimes.com):

The bill was condemned by two rapporteurs for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe — both Andreas Gross, who is responsible for relations with Kyrgyzstan, and Robert Biedroń, responsible for LGBT issues.

Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, stated:

“In a country where LGBT people experience blatant discrimination, severe violence – not the least by police forces – and have no access to their human rights, this bill will only further worsen their situation by curtailing their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“I expect the EU to raise this at the highest levels with Kyrgyz authorities, to make sure that LGBT people will stop being scapegoated and ensure that human rights of all Kyrgyz citizens are protected.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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