Kyrgyzstan is on the verge of aligning itself more closely with Russia by making it a crime to say anything positive about homosexuality, as well as by strengthening economic ties.
The anti-gay Kyrgyz bill, approved last week by the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, is modeled after Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda,” enacted in 2013, But the Kyrgyz bill is harsher than Russia’s law, because it would apply to all types of communication, not just statements made in the presence of minors.
It also would call for both fines and prison sentences of up to six months for violators, while the Russian law only imposes fines. The Kyrgyz bill would also eliminate freedom of assembly for LGBTI organizations by criminalizing “the organization of and participation in peaceful gatherings that aim to make available to society any information regarding positions on any form of nontraditional sexual relations.”
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.”
Kyrgyzstan is also exploring the possibility of joining a new economic partnership approved May 29 by the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The three countries already share customs-free borders as the three members of a customs union. The Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, modeled after the European Union, would work together even closer economic ties. It is scheduled for launch on Jan. 1, 2015, if the countries’ parliaments approve.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev attended the treaty-signing gathering on May 29 to discuss future membership.
Human Rights Watch has said that the anti-gay bill would violate Kyrgyzstan’s constitution as well as international human rights law on nondiscrimination and is “blatantly discriminatory against LGBT people and would deny citizens across Kyrgyzstan their fundamental rights.”
Although homosexual relations are decriminalized in this Central Asian republic, homophobia has long been common here. These are some of the recent events leading up to the latest bill, excerpted from a timeline compiled by Dastanik.Jux.com:
SEPTEMBER 2013 — RHAK IS ATTACKED
Reproductive Health Alliance in Kyrgyzstan (RHAK) is attacked by conservative political groups and accused of propagating foreign values. RHAK’s brochures were heavily criticized because they mentioned homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation.
JANUARY 29, 2014 — HRW RELEASES REPORT
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 65-page report that accused Kyrgyz police of extorting, threatening, arbitrarily arresting, beating, and sexually abusing gay and bisexual men.
JANUARY 30, 2014 — FATWA URGES KILLINGS OF LGBT PEOPLE
The religious decree, posted on the website of the Kyrgyz Muslims Spiritual Directorate right after HRW report release, cited a hadith attributed to the Prophet Muhammad: “If you see a community of luts [eds.: a reference to the Lut tribe (also Lot), described in the Koran as practicing sodomy] doing their deeds, you should kill the one who is doing it and the one to whom it is being done.”
FEBRUARY 2014 — BURST OF HATE SPEECH ONLINE
Unprecedented level of hate speech was documented on social media with clear incitements to hatred and violence. Local LGBT activist Dastan faced multiple online threats and hate after public coming out as a Kyrgyz gay man during HRW press conference. He complained to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to the State Committee of National Security and to the General Prosecutor’s Office, but they ignored his complaint.
FEBRUARY 27, 2014 — ANTI-LGBT MEETING NEAR US EMBASSY
Ultra-nationalist political movement “Kalys” gathered 80 people in front of the USA Embassy in Bishkek and demanded to stop financial support of NGOs in Kyrgyzstan by the U.S. government, which according to them propagates homosexuality and protects human rights of LGBT.
MARCH 12, 2014 — ANTI-LGBT GATHERING AT THE PARLIAMENT
Ultra-nationalist political movement “Kalys” conducted the second anti- LGBT, anti-NGO meeting in front of the Jogorku Kenesh (the Parliament), demanding a law that prohibits gay propaganda, criticizing the United States for its financial support of NGOs.
Torobay Zulpukarov, a vice speaker of the Parliament, started to draft a law bill on propaganda of nontradtional sexual relations. He stated that any complaints about human rights violations and hatred against LGBT would be also considered as propaganda.
MARCH 26, 2014
PUBLIC DISCUSSIONS OF THE PROPAGANDA LAW BILL WERE INITIATED
The law bill on the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations was submitted to public hearings and posted onto the official website of the Parliament.
APRIL 2, 2014 — HOMOPHOBES ATTACK NGO MEETING
A meeting in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan, organized by Freedom House, failed because of an aggressive group of young people accused Freedom House of propagating homosexuality and demanded withdrawal of their activities in Osh. Askat Dukenbaev, a country director of Freedom House, faced intimidation and threats.
APRIL 14, 2014 — LGBT ACTIVISTS ATTACKED
Three activists from the local LGBT organization “Kyrgyz Indigo” were attacked by a group of unknown men because of their actual/perceived sexual orientation. The case was registered by the police, but no substantial investigation occurred.
APRIL 15, 2014 — PROPAGANDA BILL IS REGISTERED
The bill was registered in the Parliament (6-9780/14), but without following proper procedures.
APRIL 22, 2014 — THE PROPAGANDA LAW BILL IS TEMPORARILY WITHDRAWN
The propaganda law bill was withdrawn without any explanations. This became known on April 28.
MAY 6, 2014 — THE PROPAGANDA BILL IS REGISTERED AGAIN.
The law bill was registered again. The only change was a provision for increased punishment for violators.
MAY 28, 2014 — PERSONAL LETTERS FROM LGBT
LGBT people sent more than 60 letters to initiators of the propaganda law bill, asking them to withdraw it. Some of the letters said:
- “Reject this inhumane, cruel, murderous bill. I’ll be grateful to you all my life”
- “… I ask you to solve the real problems of our country – corruption, poverty, political instability …”
- “Are you ready to take responsibility for my life? ..”
- “Do you understand that dividing people into groups and discriminating them is fascism?”
- “The law will provoke discrimination and violence against us …”
- “Adoption of this bill will completely destroy me as a person …”
JUNE 10, 2014 — THE PROPAGANDA BILL IS DISCUSSED IN PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
The Jogorku Kenesh (The Parliament) Committee on the rule of law conducted a hearing of the propaganda bill. Member of parliament Narynbek Moldobaev stated that he would like to shoot all of those, who engage into nontraditional sexual relations.