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April 18, 2014

Kyrgyzstan Bill Would Ban Positive Statements about Homosexuality

By Dawes Cooke

Earlier this week, a bill was registered with Kyrgyzstan’s national parliament that would criminalize any statement or action that creates a “positive attitude” toward homosexuality. The bill is reminiscent of the law passed in Russia last year, and it may be yet another step in the spread of Russian-style anti-propaganda laws in the region.

The bill has been in the works since at least early March when, following an anti-LGBT protest by the nationalist group Kalys, Deputy Speaker Torobaev Zulpukarov announced that legislation banning the propaganda of homosexuality was being prepared in parliament. The effort received mixed support from members of parliament and many in Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT community hoped it would stall, but the registration of the bill this week means that it will likely go to a vote.

The successful passage of the bill would be a major step backward for LGBT rights in Kyrgyzstan. Although strong homophobic sentiment exists in Kyrgyz society and there have been reports of police abuse against LGBT people, the government decriminalized male homosexual acts in 1998 and has not passed any anti-LGBT legislation since.

Many see this new bill not as a product of an organic Kyrgyz movement but as a product of foreign influence. However, Zulpukarov and others are appealing to nationalist sentiment by claiming that homosexuality is a foreign and unnatural phenomenon that threatens Kyrgyz culture and that isn’t protected by the Constitution’s human rights provisions.