Recently, teachers of the police academy in Kyrgyzstan received training on the human rights of LGBTs, sex workers and drug users. This training was given by the AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW), an organisation the COC is closely working with in the Bridging the Gaps project. Local partners of the COC were also involved in the training.
“It is the first time we are meeting the LGBT community. I now have more understanding for this group and their problems”, one of the teachers of the police academy said after concluding the training. “These sessions are a must for the entire police force,” another one said.
The police teachers attended training about the human rights of sex workers, drug users and LGBTs, and the impact the violation of these rights has on their health. The training fulfils the Police directive 417 of Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to this directive, the police ‘should not make itself guilty of discrimination and violation of the rights of vulnerable groups (…) or impugn their honour and dignity in behaviour, words or actions(…). The police should act calm and peace-loving, without expressing negative emotions.’
‘They say we deserved this’
HRW - Kyrgyzstan 2014 - They Said We Deserved This Kyrgyzstan owes this progressive directive from 2009 to a successful lobby of local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dedicated to fighting AIDS. These local organisations were supported by AFEW, COC Netherlands, and the Soros Foundation.
Practise shows that this directive is not always upheld. Even though the police in Kyrgyzstan are increasingly respecting the rights of sex workers and drug users, the reality for especially gay and bisexual men is different.
This also becomes clear from the report ‘They say we deserved this’ by Human Rights Watch that came out last month. Homosexual and bisexual men are being blackmailed, physically, sexually and mentally abused, and there have a large number of cases of arbitrary confinement.
It is the first time that the position of sex workers, drug users and HIV positive LGBTs are discussed in such training. The COC hopes that in the future, the progress made for sex workers and drug users in Kyrgyzstan can also be transferred to the LGBT community.
According to one of the students, it will take time. “When I was still attending the policy academy, I thought it was nonsense when your instructors told us these programmes are necessary. Years later, I understood, and now I am in favour of these programmes.
The same thing will happen with training on LGBTs. Maybe there will be strong resistance at first, but understanding will come later.”