News & Politics

Support the LGBT Community of Kyrgyzstan

KSupportLGBTkgyrgyzstan, a small former Soviet country just north of Afghanistan, has just voted on a new anti-gay legislation that is in line or harsher than the one in Russia. According to Radio Free Europe, 79 members of the Kyrgyz parliament voted in favor of the legislation, while seven voted against it. An additional two parliamentary votes and the President’s signature are required before this draft will become law—- but the possibility that it could has activists speaking out. The draft law includes jail time for expressing sentiments that could “create a positive attitude to unconventional sexual orientation.” It will prohibit advocacy, public depictions of LGBT individuals, and make daily life for the Kyrgyz LGBT community even more difficult. To understand more, I spoke with Labrys, a leading LGBT rights organization in Kyrgyzstan.   

1. What was life like for LGBT people and families in Kyrgyzstan before the law?

First of all, let’s start from the 42-nd CEDAW Third Periodic Report in 2008, where the representatives of Kyrgyz Republic were asked about the situation of LGBT in the country, and they had no response. That actually meant that the government didn’t even know about their citizens and what kind of problems the LGBT community met.

In general, life before the law wasn’t so perfect and positive. There is bullying, violence, and discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. Issues with the police still exist: corruption, extortion, and violence especially against gay people and trans women. Still, before the law, we didn’t have a judgment by society and discussions that all LGBT people soon would be in prison for speaking out. Our government is legislating all kinds of discrimination into law.

2. How will this law affect LGBT people and families in Kyrgyzstan?

The draft bill by itself has a lot of unclear points and mistakes left open for interpretation. Policemen already use sexuality and gender identity it for corruption and extortion— this draft law would make this easier. Actually this law opens the legal gates to kill and discriminate the people of LGBT community and provides to homophobic people the right to clean the nation from non-tradition people, including LGBTIQ, MSM, WSW, and sex-workers. And because in the draft-bill is unclear, anyone could be arrested for saying anything.

Alyia Moldalieva, Media-Coordinator of Coalition for Justice and Non-discrimination said: “The law would have huge influence for the LGBT people who still live with their parents. The parents would worry about the security of their children and would force them to change the outlooks and clothes and try to convince the LGBT children to keep in secret their sexual orientation or gender identity. Especially when the politicians openly say that to be LGBT is not acceptable for Kyrgyz society, and in this case the parents would feel more shame, and would become more homophobic to their children because of the open society censure.”

This link is our website where you can read details of the draft-bill. 

3. What will happen to people that work for Labrys or other human rights organizations that protect LGBT rights with this law?

Actually, the process of adopting the bill by the parliament is not finalized, and amendments may be added (both for better and for worse). Last week, in the parliament there were suggestions to add a point to prohibit people from meeting to advocate for LGBT rights!

David Yanchinov, Specialist for Development Partnerships and Initiatives commented: “Because the human rights activists are most visible in the society, the people who are ‘interested’ to remove them from the stage would use the law to repress and put them in the jail to shut them up.” This means that the human rights activist probably would lose their jobs. Of course, nearly half the population is now working in the NGO sector. How will the government provide jobs for them if they have to leave their work due to this draft-law?

As for the for the future of Labrys?  Nika Yuryeva, Coordinator of Human Rights Programme for Labrys, affirms:  “It is too early to speak about the future of the Labrys now because we have hope, and we are still fighting!”

4. Can you tell me one fun or interesting thing about how Labrys brings LGBT people together?

Labrys is the oldest LGBT organization in Kyrgyzstan, and it is the first organization that started advocating for LGBT rights and fighting against discrimination of queer people. As an organization, Labrys provides the LGBT community with shelter, safe spaces, health care and information.

As Public Union of Labrys, Sanzhar Kurmanov said: “Labrys started frequent informal meetings in places like cafés, to make “pleshka” (Russian word referring to queer places in the time of the Soviet Union). The aim of this meeting is to create a queer place that would be free, friendly, and safe for LGBT community to have meetings, talk, share the latest news, and to meet new people. Actually, up until now, as an organization, we have succeeded in holding frequent (usually weekly) meetings with different themes such as movie days, cooking days, discussions of present problems, and more.”

 5. If I (as a foreigner) can do one thing to support LGBT families in KG, what should I do?

For us, it is better to have as much attention as possible! International support for us is essential.
– Join us for our photo-flashmob that we are doing on the Facebook and Twitter.
– Participate in a protest against this discriminatory bill in front of Kyrgyz Republic embassies.
– Get heads of government to write our president to condemn the discriminatory law.
– Make an appeal for more International Human rights And LGBTIQ organizations to support us against this draft-bill.
– Inform yourself about the situation in Kyrgyzstan.

 

Photo Credit: Labrys

Photo Credit: Labrys

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for bringing this to our attention Clare!

  2. No problem. I hope people participate and support Kyrgyzstan.

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