By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com March 28 2014 4:40 PM ET
The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan is considering an antigay law similar to Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” statute.
A draft of the legislation, which would make it a crime to create “a positive attitude toward non-traditional sexual relations, using the media or information and telecommunications networks,” was published online Wednesday by the nation’s Parliament to initiate a 30-day public comment period, after with Parliament can take it up, reports Human Rights Watch.
“The sponsors define ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ as ‘sodomy, lesbianism and other forms of non-traditional sexual behavior,’” according to the organization. “They justify the amendments as necessary ‘to safeguard and protect the traditional family, human, moral, and historical values of Kyrgyz society.’”
Violations would include “disseminating information that would create non-traditional sexual attitudes in an individual or distorted notions of social equivalence between traditional and non-traditional sexual relations, or that would impose information about non-traditional sexual relations to evoke interest in such relations.” This would also cover the dissemination of such information at peaceful public gatherings, apparently including pride parades and festivals.
Those convicted of violating the law would face up to six months in prison and a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 som ($36 to $91). For repeat offenders or those who create this “positive attitude” among minors, the maximum sentence would be a year and the fine 3,000 to 6,000 som ($55 to $110).
Kyrgyzstan already has a climate of hostility toward LGBT people, notes Human Rights Watch, which called on Parliament to withdraw the bill. “This draconian bill is blatantly discriminatory against LGBT people and would deny citizens across Kyrgyzstan their fundamental rights,” said Hugh Williamson, the group’s Europe and Central Asia director. The organization also urged that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to which will consider Kyrgyzstan’s application for special “Partnership for Democracy” status with it April 8, “send a strong message that the bill is unacceptable, and make clear that partnership status is wholly incompatible with legislation of this kind.”
A memo accompanying the bill is misleading in its claims about other countries that have adopted such laws, observes BuzzFeed. It lists the U.K., but its ban on teaching about homosexuality in schools was repealed in 2003. It also includes Moldova, which repealed a “gay propaganda” law last July, a month after it was enacted, and Ukraine, which is considering but has not passed such legislation. A similar bill is pending in Lithuania but has yet to come to a vote.