New Kyrgyzstan anti-gay law worse than Russian law


Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev

Kyrgyzstan lawmakers have voted in favour of a discriminatory anti-gay bill in its second reading in the country’s National Assembly, bringing it a step closer to becoming reality for the Kyrgyz LGBT community.

The legislation passed an initial reading in October last year, but had been stalled until today’s vote. After one final vote it will be send to Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev to sign it into law.

The bill emulates Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law but Kyrgyzstan’s version includes even harsher punishments, including jail time of up to one year, for expressing sentiments that could “create a positive attitude to unconventional sexual orientation.”

Activists say that the law solidifies the ongoing harassment and violence waged against LGBT people in Kyrgyzstan.

In January, members of the European Parliament called on the Kyrgyz Parliament to reject the bill, describing it as “an attack on the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly and the right to non-discrimination.”

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has also urged Kyrgyzstan to scrap the legislation.

America’s Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on Wednesday condemned the latest vote by lawmakers.

“A law that forces LGBT Kyrgyz to live in fear while denying them the rights of free speech and assembly is dangerous,” commented HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “These types of laws and the rhetoric surrounding them only empowers bigots who seek to harm LGBT people.”

Kyrgyz LGBT activist Dastan Kasmamytov said: “This is a critical moment for Kyrgyzstan. We, LGBTI activists in Kyrgyzstan, call on the international community to react swiftly. We are running out of time.”

“It’s terrifying to see Kyrgyzstan following in the footsteps of Russia,” added Cobb. “The United States and international observers must not look the other way while LGBT people in Eurasia are being dangerously marginalised with new laws that replicate the ill-advised policies of President Putin.”

Kyrgyzstan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, has a population of around 5.7 million people.

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