HRC Blog

Kazakhstan Lawmaker Calls for Criminalization of Same-Sex Sexual Activity

Post submitted by Limor Finkel, Former HRC Global Engagement Program Coordinator

As the nation of Kazakhstan considers a new Criminal Code in their legislation, one lawmaker is set on criminalizing homosexuality.

Nurlan Abdirov, a longtime member of the Kazakh legislature, is vying to ban same-sex sexual activity for Kazakh men and women. If the legislation passes, Kazakhstan will be one of a very select few countries that bans lesbian relationships explicitly.

Homosexuality in Kazakhstan, a nation in the Former Soviet Union, was legalized in 1998. Despite this basic legal protection, LGBT Kazakhs are not afforded any additional rights to sovereignty and equality that are afforded to heterosexual members of society. And in recent years, there has been an increase of violence and intolerance towards the LGBT community in Kazakhstan.

Abdirov is not alone in his desire to outlaw same-sex relationships. Bakhytbek Smagul, a deputy in the Kazakh Parliament, called for the criminalization of homosexuality last October, inciting a bogus fear that same-sex relationships would undermine Kazakhstan’s ability to defend its borders.

“Tell me, how will gay men be able to protect the borders of our country?, Smagul said in a statement read before Parliament. "How will they defend us? What will their impact on the country’s demography?”

More troubling was the introduction of a law similar to Russia’s anti-propaganda law—a law that effectively makes talking about LGBT rights or people in a positive way illegal. Though the law has not gone through the various government chambers, this is a clear sign that Russia’s heinous laws against the LGBT community are spreading to its former satellite states.

Kazakhstan is not alone in the Post-Soviet states that have recently enacted or are pushing for harsh, anti-LGBT legislation. The Ukraine, Moldova and, of course, Russia are just a few nations where the legal and social landscape for LGBT people has become more frightening over the last few years. According to a study from the University of Chicago, there has been a slowed or reversed of acceptance of LGBT people in the Former Soviet Union since its collapse in late 1991.

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