Kyrgyzstan on the verge of adopting harsh anti-gay law

Published: June 27, 2014

Kyrgyzstan is on the verge of aligning itself more closely with Russia by making it a crime to say anything positive about homosexuality, as well as  by strengthening economic ties.

The anti-gay Kyrgyz bill, approved last week by theParliament’s Human Rights Committee, is modeled afterRussia’s ban on “gay propaganda,” enacted in 2013,  But the Kyrgyz bill is harsher than Russia’s law, because it would apply to all types of communication, not just statements made in the presence of minors.

It also would call for both fines and prison sentences of up to six months for violators, while the Russian law only imposes fines. The Kyrgyz bill would also eliminate freedom of assembly for LGBTI organizations by criminalizing “the organization of and participation in peaceful gatherings that aim to make available to society any information regarding positions on any form of nontraditional sexual relations.”

The bill was condemned by two rapporteurs for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe — both Andreas Gross, who is responsible for relations with Kyrgyzstan, and Robert Biedro?, responsible for LGBT issues.

Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, stated:

“In a country where LGBT people experience blatant discrimination, severe violence – not the least by police forces – and have no access to their human rights, this bill will only further worsen their situation by curtailing their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“I expect the EU to raise this at the highest levels with Kyrgyz authorities, to make sure that LGBT people will stop being scapegoated and ensure that human rights of all Kyrgyz citizens are protected.”

Kyrgyzstan is also exploring the possibility of joining a new economic partnership approved May 29 by the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.  The three countries already share customs-free borders as the three members of a customs union. The Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, modeled after the European Union, would work together even closer economic ties. It is scheduled for launch on Jan. 1, 2015, if the countries’ parliaments approve.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev attended the treaty-signing gathering on May 29 to discuss future membership.

Human Rights Watch has said that the anti-gay bill would violate Kyrgyzstan’s constitution as well as international human rights law on nondiscrimination and is “blatantly discriminatory against LGBT people and would deny citizens across Kyrgyzstan their fundamental rights.”

Although homosexual relations are decriminalized in this Central Asian republic, homophobia has long been common here.  These are some of the recent events leading up to the latest bill, excerpted from a timeline compiled by Dastanik.Jux.com:

SEPTEMBER 2013 — RHAK IS ATTACKED

Reproductive Health Alliance in Kyrgyzstan (RHAK) is attacked by conservative political groups and accused of propagating foreign values. RHAK’s brochures were heavily criticized because they mentioned homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation.

JANUARY 29, 2014 — HRW RELEASES REPORT

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 65-page report that accused Kyrgyz police of extorting, threatening, arbitrarily arresting, beating, and sexually abusing gay and bisexual men.

JANUARY 30, 2014 — FATWA URGES KILLINGS OF LGBT PEOPLE

The religious decree, posted on the website of the Kyrgyz Muslims Spiritual Directorate right after HRW report release, cited a hadith attributed to the Prophet Muhammad: “If you see a community of luts [eds.: a reference to the Lut tribe (also Lot), described in the Koran as practicing sodomy] doing their deeds, you should kill the one who is doing it and the one to whom it is being done.”

FEBRUARY 2014 — BURST OF HATE SPEECH ONLINE

Unprecedented level of hate speech was documented on social media with clear incitements to hatred and violence. Local LGBT activist Dastan faced multiple online threats and hate after public coming out as a Kyrgyz gay man during HRW press conference. He complained to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to the State Committee of National Security and to the General Prosecutor’s Office, but they ignored his complaint.

FEBRUARY 27, 2014 — ANTI-LGBT MEETING NEAR US EMBASSY

Ultra-nationalist political movement “Kalys” gathered 80 people in front of the USA Embassy in Bishkek and demanded to stop financial support of NGOs in Kyrgyzstan by the U.S. government, which according to them propagates homosexuality and protects human rights of LGBT.

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