Congress Urges Kyrgyzstan Parliament to Reject Proposed Anti-Gay Legislation
Washington, D.C. – In a bipartisan letter supported by Human Rights First and signed by 23 House members, including all members of the House Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the Kyrgyzstan Parliament (Jogorku Kanesh) to reject a discriminatory propaganda law currently under consideration. The letter called on the Speaker of Jorgorku Kanesh, Asylbek Sharipovich Jeenbekov, to prevent further advancement of this legislation which, if passed, would violate Kyrgyzstan’s constitution by denying basic rights to the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
“We write to express our deep concern about the advancement in the Jogorku Kenesh of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) legislation that threatens human rights and Kyrgyzstan’s democratic values,” wrote the representatives. “The United States values its relationship with Kyrgyzstan and hopes to continue strengthening this relationship. The proposed legislation, however, runs counter to the protection of fundamental human rights, which is the cornerstone of American democracy and our relations with foreign countries…We respectfully urge you to prevent further advancement of the ‘anti-LGBT propaganda’ legislation, and to stand for equality, justice, and democracy for all citizens.”
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. The bill has already passed through one reading by the Kyrgyzstan parliament. It must be approved on three readings and signed by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atrambayev to become law.
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 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.”
“We applaud Congress for speaking out against this harmful legislation, which is one of the most dangerous proposed anti-gay laws in the region,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We urge the new State Department Special Envoy on the Human Rights of LGBT People Randy Berry and the international community to continue to press the Kyrgyz legislators to prevent its passage.”