Proposals for new ‘gay propaganda’ laws; Europe worries

Map compiled by Human RIghts First shows the status of anti-'gay propaganda' laws in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Map compiled by Human RIghts First shows the status of anti-‘gay propaganda’ laws in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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  • Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament considered a bill banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” which has been withdrawn before its final reading for additional consultation, but is expected to be returned to Parliament.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 Moldova passed one in 2013, but then repealed it.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

Daniele Viotti, member of the European Parliament from Italy. (Photo courtesy of
Daniele Viotti, member of the European Parliament from Italy. (Photo courtesy of

[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:

Malin Björk, member of the European Parliament from Sweden. (Photo courtesy of
Malin Björk, member of the European Parliament from Sweden. (Photo courtesy of

“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.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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