The European Parliament is keeping a worried eye on two Central Asian nations’ proposals to adopt Russian-style anti-“gay propaganda” laws.
The Russian law, enacted in 2013, provides for fines of up to 200,000 rubles (about US $3,000) for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” that appears where the message could reach minors, including online. The law targets what it calls the “distorted understanding” that gay relations and heterosexual relations are “socially equivalent.”
Similar proposals are under discussion in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In the words of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights:
- In Kazakhstan both parliamentary houses passed the draft law “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development”, before the Constitutional Council rejected the bill due to the vague wording in May last year,
- Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament considered a bill banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” which has been withdrawn before its final reading for additional consultation, but is expected to be returned to Parliament.
Farther west, similar proposals are being considered in Belarus and in Lithuania, where an earlier anti-propaganda law is already on the books. Much farther east, Indonesia began discussing a similar plan last month.
Ukraine debated an anti-propaganda bill in 2012, but did not pass it. Moldova passed one in 2013, but then repealed it.
The issue was addressed in a report on the European Union’s relationship with Central Asia that the European Parliament adopted last week.
The Intergroup on LGBTI Rights at the European Parliament reported today:
Central Asia: European Parliament concerned about state of LGBTI rights
[In adopting the report] the European Parliament has made a strong call to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights, including the rights of LGBTI people, in the region.
The report highlights the parliament’s concern over freedom of the media, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association. It specifically highlights its concern over anti-propaganda bills that have been considered by Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. …
Daniele Viotti MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and part of the European Parliament’s Central Asia Delegation, reacted:
“I strongly welcome that the propaganda bills in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have been withdrawn. They are discriminatory, and should never have been drafted in the first place.
“However, the damage is partly already done, with hate crimes and political hate speech on the rise. I strongly urge my fellow law-makers in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to stop targeting minorities, and instead work to end discrimination and enforce their rights.”
Malin Björk MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, continued:
“The initiatives aimed at LGBTI people do not stand alone, but take place in an environment where government critics are imprisoned, and independent groups and opposition parties are silenced.
“I urge the Commission and the EEAS to take the European Parliament’s call seriously and raise this at the highest levels with the countries’ authorities.”
- Central Asia: European Parliament concerned about state of LGBTI rights (April 2016, Intergroup on LGBT Rights)
- Indonesian lawmakers considering LGBT propaganda bill (March 2016, Washington Blade)
- Belarus weighs Russia-style anti-‘gay propaganda’ law (January 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Anti-‘gay propaganda’ bill blocked in Kazakhstan
- First conviction under Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law (December 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Putin signs Russian ‘anti-gay propaganda’ bill into law (June 2013, 76crimes.com)