TheUN Human Rights Office in Central Asia today expressed deep concern at the second-stage approval in Parliament of amendments to various laws that would create criminal and administrative sanctions for so-called "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations". If adopted, these amendments will entrench in law discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The proposed changes would infringe on the rights to freedom from discrimination, freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, as well as on the vital work of human rights defenders conducting important advocacy work to protect the rights of individuals including those who are LGBT. These amendments may also fall foul of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic which provides that “laws that deny or derogate human and civil rights and freedoms shall not be adopted in the Kyrgyz Republic”.
In addition to targeting the LGBT community, the draft law as it stands would inhibit discussion and access to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to health. It would also bring both criminal and administrative sanctions for those found guilty of engaging in so-called ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’.
“In recent years, many States have made a determined effort to strengthen human rights protection for LGBT people. An array of new laws have been adopted – including laws banning discrimination, penalizing homophobic and transphobic hate crimes,” said Elisabeth da Costa, Regional Representative a.i. of the Regional Office in Central Asia of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“We strongly encourage the Kyrgyz Republic to stay on the welcome path it has maintained in recent years, and uphold the human rights principles enshrined in the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic which are mirrored in the international treaties it has ratified.”
The proposed amendments take place against a backdrop of recent violent attacks against the LGBT community. On 17 May, around 20-30 activists of "Kalys" and "Kyrk Choro" (youth nationalist political movements) reportedly broke into a local restaurant in Bishkek where members of the NGO Labrys were celebrating the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. They threatened and insulted the Labrys members, at least one of whom was injured. The police opened a criminal case on charges of “hooliganism” and are reportedly investigating the circumstances of the case.
“The recent attack against LGBT individuals demonstrates that deeply-embedded homophobic and transphobic attitudes, often combined with a lack of adequate legal protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, expose individuals to egregious violations of their human rights,” da Costa said. “We urge the Kyrgyz authorities to take all necessary measures to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination and to safeguard the human rights of all people, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity. The law enforcement authorities have to ensure that perpetrators of homophobic and transphobic attacks, acting in their personal capacity, or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity, are identified and brought to justice.”