Kazakhstani “gay propaganda” bill blocked

This poster was banned by a Kazakhstan court last year

This poster was banned by a Kazakhstani court last year

In a victory for human rights, Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council has rejected a proposed Russian-style ‘gay propaganda’ bill.

The pending legislation was on Tuesday deemed unconstitutional because of the bill’s vague wording.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the move. “Laws that construe information about sexual orientation as ‘propaganda’ have no place in Kazakhstan,” commented Mihra Rittmann, researcher in the Europe and Central Asia division.

“Propaganda bills like those that came before Kazakhstan’s council are discriminatory, and should never have been adopted in the first place.”

By rejecting this “propaganda” bill, Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council set an important precedent against the adoption of discriminatory legislation, Human Rights Watch said.

While complete copies of the final drafts of the bill were never made public, it’s believed they included a broad ban on the publication or sharing of information relating to same-sex relations in settings where children might be present.

While the rejection of the “propaganda” law was a positive move, the authorities should do more to tackle the persistent climate of homophobia in Kazakhstan, Human Rights Watch said, especially in light of the country’s  bid for the 2022 Olympic Games.

In October 2014, a poster depicting a kiss between two male cultural icons was banned by a Kazakhstani court and the agency behind the ad was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in damages. The government has also been accused of restricting freedom of the media and freedom of assembly to silence criticism and dissent.

“As Kazakhstan bids for the Olympics, it should be aware that the eyes of the world will be on how it handles these issues,” Rittmann said. “Kazakhstan should be swiftly moving to end restrictions on fundamental human rights.”

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