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March 01, 2016

LGBT Issues in Kyrgyzstan

The Propaganda Bill

Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalized in Kyrgyzstan in 1998, but the Kyrgyz lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community experiences routine discrimination and violence. Despite human rights guarantees enumerated in the Kyrgyz Constitution, LGBT individuals in practice do not enjoy the same liberties as heterosexual citizens.

The Jogorku Kenesh (Kyrgyz parliament) is currently considering a law that would exacerbate this inequality by severely curtailing the basic freedoms of LGBT people and their allies. Emulating Russia’s 2013 law banning “homosexual propaganda,” it poses a threat to the human rights of the LGBT community in the country and the region at large.

The bill now awaits its third and final reading in the Kyrgyz parliament. If it passes, it will be sent to President Almazbek Atambayev, who must decide whether to sign the legislation or veto it.

Facts about the Bill

* The bill is more severe than the Russian law; it seeks to ban the dissemination of all public information that portrays “non-traditional sexual relations” in a positive light, not just information that is presented to minors. The bill also contains harsher penalties, including prison terms of up to one year, in addition to administrative fines. It is the first bill of its kind in the region that seeks to incarcerate LGBT individuals.

* If passed, the bill would severely impede the essential work of LGBT organizations and limit the freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly of activists, civil society leaders, journalists, and members of the LGBT community.

* The bill has received overwhelming support in the Jogorku Kenesh. The last reading of the bill was approved by a vote of 90-2. Proponents have simultaneously ramped up homophobic rhetoric. Baktybek Kalmamatov, a member of parliament, referred to LGBT people when he stated: “"Who are they…to be protected? They are damaging me, my children. I loathe them, they should not eat in the same places we eat at, sit where we rest.”

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