Asia

Kyrgyzstan bans gay marriage, not ‘gay propaganda’

A poll worker checks the ID card of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev at a polling station in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Dec. 11, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Radio Free Europe)

A poll worker checks the ID card of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev at a polling station in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Dec. 11, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Radio Free Europe)

Kyrgyzstan has amended its constitution to ban same-sex marriage, but continues to delay action on a proposed Russian-style law against “gay propaganda.”

The anti-“gay propaganda” proposal, under discussion since 2014, won  near-unanimous legislative approval in at least one one preliminary vote but it aroused intense international opposition and has never been enacted.

Last month’s voting in the central Asian country also revised the balance of power between the president and the prime minister, an issue that was more controversial among Kyrgyz voters than the same-sex-marriage ban.

Radio Free Europe reported:

Arrow indicates the location of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.

Arrow indicates the location of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.

BISHKEK — Kyrgyz election officials said voters have overwhelmingly backed amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage and shift some presidential powers to the prime minister.

The two questions were among a package of 26 proposed amendments that voters in the mostly Muslim former Soviet republic were being asked to approve with a simple “yes-or-no” vote on December 11.

The Central Election Commission said 80 percent of voters backed the measures and just over 42 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. …

The amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman — a change that would effectively ban gay marriages — had garnered wide attention.

Protest against Kyrgyzstan's proposed anti-"gay propaganda" law

2014 protest against Kyrgyzstan’s proposed anti-“gay propaganda” law

The measure parallels related legislation making its way through parliament that toughens punishments for promoting “a homosexual way of life” and “nontraditional sexual relations.” The bill passed a first reading in parliament but has not been given final approval.

While no same-sex marriages have believed to have been recorded by local marriage registries anywhere, some Kyrgyz same-sex couples may have gotten married anyway, through other means. The only restriction that was explicitly stated in the current constitution had been that married couples should be adults.

Neither same-sex marriage, nor homosexuality more broadly, have much support among most Kyrgyz and the issue has been condemned by some Islamic clerics and nationalist groups, who view it as Western values being imported into the country.

Some gay rights and feminist groups are known in the capital, Bishkek, and active on social networks, and there are several gay and lesbian cafes and bars in the city, as well.

For more information, read the full article, “Kyrgyz Voters Back Amendments On Same-Sex Marriage, Presidential Power.”

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