Assistant Secretary Biswal’s Kyrgyzstan Agenda Should Include Concerns Over Anti-LGBT Bill
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today urged Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal to publicly raise concerns over the proposed discriminatory propaganda bill during her trip to Kyrgyzstan today and tomorrow. The proposed bill, which includes severe penalties for “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," is currently pending in the Kyrgyz parliament. The bill has passed two readings and will likely have its third and final reading when the Kyrgyz parliament is back in session in October.
“Passage of this Kyrgyz bill, which is one of the most sweeping and severe anti-LGBT bills moving forward, would be disastrous for Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT community and set a bad precedent for the region,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “Assistant Secretary Biswal should press the Kyrgyz government to reject this bill and offer public support to human rights activists and civil society leaders who are experiencing backlash as a result of the bill’s consideration."
In recent months, reports of violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Kyrgyzstan have escalated. Additionally, civil society groups and human rights activists have been targeted by the Kyrgyz government for investigations into their receipt of foreign funding.
The proposed propaganda bill emulates Russia’s infamous law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” but would allow for more severe penalties, including the possibility of jail time. If passed, the bill would ban the existence of LGBT organizations, shutter gay clubs, and most notably, could result in one-year prison sentences for those found guilty of propagating non-traditional sexual relations. It would limit the speech, expression, and freedom of assembly of activists, civil society leaders, journalists, and members of the LGBT community by criminalizing public expression and events that contain information about “non-traditional sexual relations.” The bill must be approved on three readings and signed by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atrambayev to become law.
The Kyrgyz Minister of Justice issued an official statement in June expressing opposition to the propaganda bill. This followed a May bipartisan letter from 23 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging the Kyrgyz parliament to reject the propaganda bill. The U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan has publicly condemned the proposed law and European Union officials have decried the bill as one of the most "sweeping anti-propaganda bills ever published.”
Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government work to prevent the spread of Russian-style propaganda laws in the surrounding region. Human Rights First’s blueprint, “How to Stop Russia from Exporting Homophobia” details how Russia’s homophobic laws and policies have spread throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and outlines key steps that the U.S. government can take to stop the spread of laws and policies that infringe on the human rights of the LGBT community.
For more information or to speak with Gaylord contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected] or 212-845-5269.