Kyrgyz Ministry of Justice States Anti-Gay Law Violates Human Rights
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the Kyrgyz Ministry of Justice for announcing its opposition to a proposed propaganda law currently under consideration in the Parliament. Human Rights First believes that the proposed propaganda law would violate the human rights of Kyrgyzstan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, and has urged the Kyrgyz Parliament to prevent the bill’s passage.
“We applaud the Kyrgyz Ministry of Justice for making clear that the proposed propaganda law threatens human rights and Kyrgyzstan’s democratic values. This statement represents a changing tide in the region toward greater recognition that all people should receive the same basic rights protections regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We urge the Kyrgyz parliament to follow suit and prevent the bill from advancing.”
“For us, this is an important step, but it is only the beginning. The Kyrgyz LGBT community still faces persecution on a daily basis and the bill is still active in Parliament. Now MPs need to acknowledge the Ministry’s announcement, remove support for the bill, and start protecting all Kyrgyz citizens,” said Kyrgyz human rights activist Ruslan Kim, head of advocacy and public relations for Kyrgyz Indigo.
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 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.
Last month 23 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the Kyrgyzstan parliament to reject the propaganda bill in a bipartisan letter organized by Human Rights First. 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.”
In reaction to the Ministry of Justice’s statement, Kyrgyz extremists are calling for public action and organizing demonstrations to support the discriminatory anti-gay bill.
In addition to condemning the propaganda bill, the Ministry of Justice spoke out against a new bill banning foreign agents that would require nonprofits and civil society organizations that receive foreign funding to register as foreign agents. If passed, the foreign agents bill would allow the Kyrgyz government to restrict the ability of human rights activists and civil society groups to do their work.
The Kyrgyz Minister of Justice’s statement comes as the government of Kyrgyzstan recently accepted several key recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 2015 Universal Periodic Review. These recommendations asked the government of Kyrgyzstan to take action to ensure that legislation conforms to international human rights standards on non-discrimination toward LGBT people, to ensure that allegations of violence human rights abuses against LGBT people are fully investigated, and to take necessary measures to prevent discrimination and violence against LGBT people.
Throughout the region, slow progress is being made to advance the human rights of LGBT people. A similar propaganda bill was recently rejected by the Constitutional Court of Kazakhstan, blocking the bill from becoming law and ensuring that the 2022 Olympic contender meets non-discrimination requirements included in the Olympic Charter.
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 which infringe on the human rights of the LGBT community.