The Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan has stricken the country’s anti-gay law, as it considers the law to be unconstitutional. The media suggests that this step has been taken because of Kazakhstan's ambition to organise the 2022 Winter Olympics. LGBTI activists point out that even without an anti-gay law, homo/bi/transphobia is a growing problem.
Last February, the Kazakh parliament voted in favour of a bill that has to 'protect minors against propaganda for non-traditional sexual orientations'. The law - following the example of the Russian anti-gay law - is not yet official, as president Noersoeltan Nazarbajev has yet to sign it.
Because of last May’s verdict of the Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan, the implementation of the law now hangs in the balance. According to the Constitutional Council, the law contains sloppy legal formulations and provisions that are contrary to a number of constitutional rights.
The Council did communicate, however, that the government is entitled to introduce bills that limit the right and dispersal of information on the grounds of the responsibility to 'protect marriage and family life'.
Kazakh LGBT activists from Almaty, which have to remain anonymous here for security reasons, responded with mixed feelings on the news of this decision by the Constitutional Council. They point out that homo/bi/transphobia in Kazakhstan is an increasing social problem.
“Expressions of these phobias remain unpunished, making the Kazakh LGBT virtually outlawed,” an LGBT activist notes. “An advertising agency is fined by a court for publishing a poster with two kissing men, members of a youth organisation can brick up the doors to a gay club undisturbed, and the media paints a very negative picture of LGBTs, feeding the homo/bi/transphobia.”
In international media it is presumed that the striking of this anti-gay law has something to do with Kazakhstan's ambition to organise the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The Council's verdict came shortly after a group of prominent athletes - including tennis legend Martina Navratilova and Olympic pole diving champion Greg Louganis – published an open letter in which they called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to strictly adhere to the non-discrimination guidelines in the Olympic Charter in assigning the Winter Olympics. Kazakhstan and China are now the two remaining countries to organise the Olympics, in respectively Almaty and Beijing.