Kyrgyzstan Parliament Urged to Reject Anti-LGBT Bill
Riga, Latvia – Human Rights First today urged the U.S. government and the international community to press the Kyrgyz parliament to reject a proposed discriminatory propaganda bill that has reportedly been approved in a second 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.
“We are deeply concerned that this sweeping anti-LGBT bill is moving forward in Kyrgyzstan, especially following the international outcry against it,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We urge the Obama Administration to continue to press Kyrgyz legislators to reject this bill, and to offer support to human rights activists and civil society leaders who are experiencing backlash as a result of the bill’s consideration.”
The proposed propaganda bill was passed on the first reading in October 2014. Earlier this month, the Kyrgyz Minister of Justice issued an official statement expressing opposition to the propaganda bill. In reaction to the Ministry of Justice’s statement, Kyrgyz extremists have organized demonstrations to support the discriminatory bill.
The anti-LGBT 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 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (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.”
Last month 23 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the Kyrgyz 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.”
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.