Kyrgyzstan Anti-“Propaganda” Law Passes First Reading in Parliament
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today expressed concern over news that Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted to pass a proposed discriminatory anti-“propaganda” law on first reading. The bill emulates Russia’s infamous law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” but would allow for more severe penalties, including the possibility of jail time. The bill must be approved on three readings and signed by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atrambayev to become law.
“This proposed legislation is one of the harshest anti-gay laws in the region, and the international community must continue to work to prevent its passage,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We applaud those Kyrgyz legislators who spoke out against this harmful legislation and welcome the Obama Administration’s efforts to condemn this legislation and offer support to human rights activists in the country.”
This week, the U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan issued a statement publicly condemning the proposed law, urging the Kyrgyz parliament to oppose the legislation and warning that, “Laws that discriminate against one group of people threaten the fundamental rights of all people.”
Kyrgyzstan’s anti-“propaganda” bill would ban the existence of LGBT organizations, shutter gay clubs, and most notably, calls for a one-year prison sentence for those found guilty of propagating non-traditional sexual relations. 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 Atrambayev, the bill 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 administration’s actions following the passage of Uganda’s anti-gay law showed that it takes discrimination against LGBT people seriously,” added Gaylord. “The United States should continue to make clear during ongoing discussions over the strategic relationship with Kyrgyzstan, that passage of this law will have a severe negative impact on the bilateral relationship and impact Kyrgyzstan’s reputation as a stable partner in the international community.”
Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government work to prevent the spread of Russian-style anti-“propaganda” laws in the surrounding region. The organization also urges the Obama Administration to appoint a special envoy for the human rights of LGBT people within the State Department to stand as a statement of the U.S. commitment to the human rights of LGBT people worldwide.