European Parliament Condemns Kyrgyzstan Propaganda Law
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today applauded the European Parliament for its resolution urging the Kyrgyzstan government to reject the proposed discriminatory propaganda bill that is currently under consideration in the Kyrgyz Parliament. In the resolution adopted yesterday, the European Parliament called on Kyrgyzstan to withdraw the draft law and work to “reaffirm publicly that all people in Kyrgyzstan have the right to live free from discrimination and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“We welcome the European Parliament’s affirmation that all people should be afforded equal protection of their human rights under the law, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “The broad language included in the draft Kyrgyzstan bill is highly dangerous to Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT community. We urge the Obama Administration to join with the European Parliament in publicly condemning this legislation and making clear that it’s passage would damage the United States – Kyrgyzstan bilateral relationship.”
Kyrgyzstan’s draft propaganda bill passed the first of three parliamentary readings in October following approval by the Kyrgyz Parliament’s Human Rights Committee. The bill, which emulates Russia’s infamous law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” would be a broader incarnation of the Russian law, with harsher penalties including prison terms in addition to administrative fines. Additionally, the draft bill would ban any and all information regarding nontraditional sexual relationships, regardless of whether or not it has been presented to minors.
European Union officials have decried the bill as one of the most “sweeping anti-propaganda bills ever published.” If passed and signed into law by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atrambayev, the bill would limit the speech, expression, and freedom of assembly of activists, civil society leaders, journalists, and members of LGBT community by criminalizing public expression and events that contain information about “non-traditional sexual relations.”
Human Rights First’s recently updated blueprint, “How to Stop Russia from Exporting Homophobia,” details how Russia’s homophobic laws and policies have spread throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, including in Kyrgyzstan, and outlines key steps that the U.S. government can take to stop the spread of laws and policies which infringe on the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community including:
- Partner with the European Union to promote its use of leverage, particularly with E.U. accession states, to move states to comply with E.U. laws and standards on human rights protections, including for LGBT people.
- Create a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT People in the State Department to coordinate continued U.S. leadership on the global stage, organize U.S. activity with other governments in multilateral meeting and specific instances of crisis, work to ascertain how U.S. foreign policy may best help vulnerable LGBT communities, and develop a strategy of working with other nations to undermine the narrative employed by homophobic nations where homosexuality is dismissed as a lifestyle foreign to their cultural heritage.
- Challenge existing criminalization and anti-propaganda laws as well as other legislation and efforts to curtail the rights of LGBT people
- Discourage attempts by parliaments to introduce new legislation that either seeks to criminalize homosexuality or introduces restrictions on free speech, assembly or association for LGBT people.
- Encourage debate and free speech around LGBT issues by engaging broad segment of civil society.
- Provide legal and other assistance to victims of anti-propaganda laws or other laws that violate the rights of LGBT people.
- Protect LGBT people from bias-motivated violence and ensure that such violence is condemned by public officials and investigated and prosecuted by the authorities.