Activists in Kyrgyzstan are appealing to international LGBTI rights supporters to protest against a proposed Russian-style ban on “gay propaganda” that is scheduled for a vote in the Kyrgyz parliament tomorrow (Oct. 15).
The Kyrgyz LGBTI group Labrys says that enacting the bill, which calls for up to a year in jail for anyone who advocates LGBTI rights, would be the equivalent of recriminalizing homosexuality. The ban would outlaw LGBT rights and advocacy groups and make the discussion of LGBT issues an arrestable act.
The Kyrgyz proposal relies on terminology and justifications (defense of family and traditional values) that are similar to those of Russia’s “anti-“gay propaganda” law of 2013, but it is harsher than its Russian counterpart. Unlike the Russian law, the Kyrgyz bill would provide for a year in prison for any positive references to sexual minorities, which would not be limited to banning discussions and presentations made in the presence of minors.
Without any clear and concrete explanation, the text of the bill uses such blurred concepts as:
- Traditional values
- Formation of positive attitudes
- Nontraditional sexual relations
Such blurred concepts will create problems in actual implementations of the proposed law, leading to absurd cases as it already happens in Russia.
WHAT WILL BE FORBIDDEN UNDER THE PROPOSED LAW?
- Distribution of photo, video and text materials, promoting nontraditional sexual relations in open or indirect way (According to members of parliament it also includes any information about violence faced by LGBT)
- Organization and participation in peaceful assemblies, which aimed at distribution of opinions or materials in any forms linked to nontraditional sexual relations
MAJOR CONSEQUENCES OF THE BILL IF SIGNED TO THE LAW:
1. LGBTIQ organizations will no longer operate legally
2. More hate crimes and violence against LGBT people
3. Organized hate groups to attack LGBT people
4. Initiatives for sexual and reproductive rights and health will be closed down
5. Increased blackmailing from law enforcement officers and strengthened corruption
6. Emigration of queer people from Kyrgyzstan to abroad
7. HIV programs among men who have sex with men and transgender people may be closed down
Kyrgyz activists asked their supporters to:
1. Spread information about the bill
Use all means to contact international organizations, foreign ministries and mass media to inform them about propaganda bill in Kyrgyzstan. Also, use social media to speak up against the bill. (For more information, see links below.) Labrys is on Twitter and on Facebook, both in English and in Russian.
Supporters are encouraged to photograph their posters and protests at the local embassy or consulate of Kyrgyzstan, and share them via social media with the hashtag #supportLGBTkg. Photos should be sent to Nika Yuryeva, coordinator of the Labrys human rights program at email@example.com.
2. Speak up and act up, including corporate pressure
We ask you to join and participate in all offline and online campaigns/flashmobs/demonstrations against the bill. Organize meetings in front of Kyrgyz embassies abroad and create international pressure onto the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan as well as onto the Parliament. We ask you to meet and discuss the bill with diplomats who work in the region,or with respective officials at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
By now we exhausted almost all domestic means to stop the bill, including internal procedures of Jogorku Kenesh, the Parliament. Now there’s a need of strong international pressure “behind the scenes.” We also need public statements from officials from “non-Western” countries: Asian and Latin American. Outreach to friendly Imams and Islam religious leaders to openly condemn the law bill would also be very helpful.
All messages must be well articulated and evidence-based. They should always mention progress of the Government and the Parliament in achieving parliamentary democracy, fighting corruption and devoting to universal human rights standards.
We also ask you to demand international corporations, presented in Kyrgyzstan to speak up against the law bill, expressing their concerns for the safety of their own employees (Coca Cola bottlers, Nokia Tietoliikenne Oy, Apple, Kumtor Gold Company, etc.).
3. Donors should review programs to avoid supporting homophobia
We demand donors to carefully assess their programs in Kyrgyzstan and make sure that their local partners do not support homophobia and transphobia. We demand donor organizations to review their funding to organizations that fail to respect human rights and/or support the bill, propagate hate or encourage violence against LGBTIQ. We are also against any cuts in general funding of crucial services, instead we prefer reviewing and re-structuring policies to make sure that they are human rights based and prioritize the most vulnerable communities.
If donors support service providers they must demand the service providers to address the needs of LGBTIQ communities. Donors also must prioritize funding urgent advocacy, communities mobilization and politicization, movement building, forming public opinion, security for LGBTIQ human rights defenders, and alternative mass media that focus on human rights.
4. Sanctions against public homophobes
We demand any sanctions (for instance, visa restrictions or denial for entrance, freezing the financial holdings) towards the public homophobes, who expressed hate speech in local media and incite violence and hatred against LGBTIQ. Many of these homophobes travel a lot in Europe, the USA and other countries as a part of various developmental programs and even programs on human rights. We ask international organizations not to support financially these public homophobes and avoid inviting them to their meetings and conferences until they overcome their homophobia and publicly condemn the law bill. The updated list of public homophobes can be found here: https://dastanik.jux.com/3281714
5. Push to improve asylum rules for LGBTIQ people forced to flee
We ask you to advocate for more transparent, abuse- and violence-free asylum procedures and for prioritizing asylum-granting to LGBTIQ.
If the bill is passed in its first reading on Oct. 15, activists say that it will still need second and third readings in parliament and then would need the signature of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev before it would become law. That could happen by early 2015, they say.
In addition to the efforts in Kyrgyzstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has supported several neighboring nations’ efforts to pass laws similar to Russia’s “anti-“gay propaganda” law of 2013. The goal of this initiative is to build solidarity against Western influences.
The government of Kyrgyzstan also wants to strengthen its relations with Russia as a potential member of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union that will come into effect in January.
Articles and press releases in English, listed by Kyrgyz activists:
- March 27, 2014; Human Rights Watch (HRW)
- March 28, 2014; the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
- June 20, 2014; BuzzFeed
- June 25, 2014; The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights
- June 27, 2014; Erasing 76 crimes
- July 19, 2014; Erasing 76 crimes
- July 21, 2014; GayStarNews
- July 25, 2014; Aljazeera (video)
- July 27, 2014; Queer DE (in German only)
- July 28, 2014; IGLYO
- July, 2014; Emerging Europe Monitor
- August 2, 2014; Radio Radical (in Italian and Russian, video + podcast)
- September 18, 2014: MSNBC/Vocativ (video)
- October 5, 2014: NY Times (Putinspeak in Kyrgyzstan by Masha Gessen, translation into Russian)
- Kyrgyz Parliamentary Committee Backs Draft Antigay Bill (rferl.org)
- Growing Contagion of Anti-LGBT Hate (hrc.org)
- “Gay Propaganda” Ban Moves One Step Closer To Law In Kyrgyzstan (BuzzFeed)
- Kyrgyzstan to vote on ‘gay propaganda’ ban (76crimes.com)
- Kyrgyzstan plea: Please help oppose anti-gay bill (76crimes.com)
- Kyrgyzstan on the verge of adopting harsh anti-gay law (76crimes.com)