Kyrgyzstan Passes Draft Anti-LGBT “Propaganda” Bill That’s Worse Than Russia’s Law

by HRC Staff

Today HRC condemned the vote by the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly to pass new and discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation during its second reading. The legislation passed through an initial reading in October, but had been stalled until today’s vote. Another parliamentary vote is required before the legislation is submitted to Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, whose signature is necessary for the legislation to become law. Proposed over a year ago, this legislation emulates Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law. However, Kyrgyzstan’s version mandates even harsher punishments, including jail time, for expressing sentiments that could “create a positive attitude to unconventional sexual orientation.” This law solidifies the ongoing harassment and violence waged against LGBT Kyrgyz.

“A law that forces LGBT Kyrgyz to live in fear while denying them the rights of free speech and assembly is dangerous,” said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “These types of laws and the rhetoric surrounding them only empowers bigots who seek to harm LGBT people.”

HRC stands in solidarity with the Kyrgyz activists and allies fighting against this new offensive legislation, and calls on the Kyrgyz Parliament and President not to pass this blight on the human rights of Kyrgyz citizens.

“It’s terrifying to see Kyrgyzstan following in the footsteps of Russia,” said Cobb.  “The United States and international observers must not look the other way while LGBT people in Eurasia are being dangerously marginalized with new laws that replicate the ill-advised policies of President Putin.”

“This is a critical moment for Kyrgyzstan. We, LGBTI activists in Kyrgyzstan, call on the international community to react swiftly. We are running out of time.” said Kyrgyz LGBT activist Dastan Kasmamytov.

On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), LGBT Kyrgyz were attacked by anti-LGBT activists. In response to the attack, police detained countless LGBT activists and allegedly harassed them while in custody.  Human Rights Watch has documented the increasing brutality against the LGBT community in Kyrgyzstan, and this law would only further isolate the community. This law is part of a growing trend towards anti-LGBT legislation in Eastern Europe and central Asia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the internationally condemned and draconian anti-LGBT propaganda law on June 29, 2013, to be enforced the following day.  This law––and the homophobic and transphobic cultural debate that swirled around it––has fueled an appalling spree of violence against members of Russia’s LGBT community.  HRC Foundation’s full Russia: Year in Review report, which documents the intense backlash, is available here.

Within the past year, Kazakhstan also sought to implement a similar law. It was struck down as unconstitutional in May.

“As more countries seek to copy Russia’s abominable crackdown on LGBT rights, we must stand in solidarity with LGBT people throughout the world. Each vote in favor of this legislation is a slap in the face to the values of democracy and equality,” said Cobb.  “While the United States responded strongly to anti-LGBT legislation passed in Uganda earlier this year, we need to see similar actions when other countries enact laws that violate the human rights of LGBT people.”

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