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US warns Kyrgyzstan over gay propaganda bill

US warns Kyrgyzstan over gay propaganda bill

The Embassy of the United States in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan has issued a strong statement against the Kyrgyz Government passing laws that would curtail freedom of speech by banning the expression of ‘positive attitude[s] to untraditional sexual relations among minors or in mass media.’

‘The US Embassy notes with deep concern the advancement in the Jogorku Kenesh (Kyrgyz parliament) of legislation that fundamentally threatens human rights, Kyrgyzstan’s democratic gains and constitutional guarantees,’ the statement reads.

‘We particularly note the October 9 passage of legislation on non-traditional relations on its first reading, and the scheduling of committee hearings on the foreign agents bill.’

The embassy warned of the chilling influence that such legislation could have on public discourse.

‘People everywhere deserve to live in freedom,’ the statement reads, ‘No one should be silenced or imprisoned because of who they are or whom they love. Laws that discriminate against one group of people threaten the fundamental rights of all people.’

‘Sweeping limits on civil society harm democracy. We urge MPs and the people of the Kyrgyz Republic to stand on the side of justice and equality, to stand for progress and compassion, and oppose legislation that would criminalize expressions of identity or limit civil society.’

Kyrgyz MPs reportedly passed the first reading of the bill on Thursday and the US Embassy responded with its statement the very next day.

At present the bill would see people convicted of ‘popularizing homosexual relations’ or ‘propaganda of a homosexual way of life’ fined or jailed for up to a year in prison – though some MPs have called for even stiffer penalties and the bill may be revised further.

The fines imposed under the bill would be more than half the average Kyrgyz monthly salary and journalists could potentially be caught up in the law for reporting on LGBTI issues in the country.

The European Union is also concerned about the law, dubbing it one of the most ‘sweeping anti-propaganda bills ever published.’

Kyrgyzstan, also known as the Kyrgyz Republic is 80% Muslim and 17% Russian Orthodox and 9% of the population are ethnic Russians.