June 25, 2015 – Reported by The Diplomat.com – Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted Wednesday 90 to 2 in favor of a proposed bill that would punish “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation” with jail terms. The bill has now passed two of three mandatory readings before it can be sent to President Almazbek Atambayev for signature into law. The third reading is expected in the fall before parliamentary elections scheduled for October.
Along with the ‘foreign agents’ law that passed its first reading earlier this month, the so-called ‘anti-gay propaganda’ law is seen by human rights organizations as a serious step backwards for a country long praised as a beacon of civil society in the region.
The Kyrgyz law was first proposed in March 2014, and resembles a Russian law, passed in 2013 that bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors” and imposes heavy fines on individuals who do. The Kyrgyz version, the Human Rights Campaign warns, “mandates even harsher punishments, including jail time, for expressing sentiments that could ‘create a positive attitude to unconventional sexual orientation.’” In addition, social pressure on members of the LGBT community have been on the rise–in May anti-gay nationalists crashed a gathering held to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, while a report from Human Rights Watch last year chronicled the torture of gay men by police in Kyrgyzstan.
In October, the proposed law passed its first reading 79 to 7. While opposition in parliament has shrunk, there remains some opposition to it in the country. In March, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service reported that the Minister of Justice, Jyldyz Mambetalieva, said both the ‘foreign agents’ law and the ‘anti-gay propaganda’ law violated human rights…story continues below…