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Anti-‘gay propaganda’ bill blocked in Kazakhstan

Map of Kazakhstan (Map courtesy of PSU.edu)
Location of Kazakhstan in central Asia (Map courtesy of PSU.edu)

Opponents of human rights for LGBTI people in Kazakhstan suffered a setback last week, as the nation’s Constitutional Council blocked enactment of a Russian-style anti-“gay propaganda” bill.

The council announced on May 26 that it rejected the bill last week on the grounds that it contained “vague and ambiguous definitions and terms.”

Last August, the lower house of the Kazakh parliament passed the bill, which is modeled on Russia’s law against “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation.” The upper house passed it in February.

Because the country is vying with China to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, 27 Olympic and Paralympic athletes called on the International Olympic committee to take a stand against the bill, which they said is “incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement.”

Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan (Photo courtesy of Chronicle.co.zw)
Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan (Photo courtesy of Chronicle.co.zw)

Several organizations, including Amnesty International, called on Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to reject it. Amnesty said Kazakhstan is in the midst of a homophobic crackdown on LGBT people, human rights and the right of free expression.

Although the Constitutional Council’s decision prevents the bill from being signed into law in its current form, the council also ruled that Kazakhstan’s government can enact laws that restrict citizens’ rights to access and distribute information as part of its responsibility to “defend marriage and family, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood,” BuzzFeed reported.

The future of the bill remains unclear.

“The rare rejection left it unclear whether the bill is effectively dead, could be sent back to parliament for revision, or revived after the fact, providing Kazakhstan is chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.” Radio Free Europe stated.

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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