Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Kazakhstan LGBTI Resources

 (See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)

 

National Law

Kazakhstan decriminalised homosexuality in 1998. Prior to this, Article 104 of the Penal Code had criminalized anal intercourse between men. This law had its antecedents in Section 121 of the criminal code of the former Soviet Union. There is a common age of consent of 16 years for all sexual activity. There are currently no provisions in Kazakh law that criminalise any aspect of same-sex sexual relations. However, lesbianism and ‘muzhelozhstvo’ (sodomy) are listed in the Kazakh Criminal Code in Articles 121-123 as separate categories for forced sexual contacts. Additionally, Kazakhstan does not include discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination legislation. In Articles 141 and 164 on ‘Violating equality of the citizens’, which discusses hate crime based on different characteristics, the Kazak Criminal Code does not include sexual orientation or gender as grounds of criminal discriminatory conduct.

 

CASE LAW

There is currently no relevant case law on LGBTI issues.

 

PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE'S CAPACITY TO PROTECT

Known incidences of violence and discrimination

In May 2014, the BBC reported that a lesbian woman who had engaged in Kazakhstan’s first public gay wedding in 2013 was found brutally murdered, and her body was reportedly dismembered and burned. LGBTI individuals have recorded experiences that describe instances where they have been unlawfully detained by the police on the grounds of their sexual orientation. LGBTI individuals have also been refused help from medical specialists because of their sexual orientation.

State and political attitudes

Nationalist politician Dauren Dabamuratov has recently called for a ban on gay people serving in the civil service and the army. Dabamuratov has also claimed that the country has ‘stooped so low that LGBTs no longer hide their orientation’.  The same politician has suggested that gay people could be identified through blood tests and called for homosexuality to be criminalised.

In 2013, Bakhybek Smagul, a member of Kazakhstan’s parliament, called for a new law banning ‘homosexual relations’. Smagul stated that the future of the country depended on strong families and that the declining birth-rate in Kazakhstan showed a need for anti-gay laws.

Societal attitudes

A 2013 country report on Human Rights Practices undertaken by the United States Department of State highlighted that LGBT individuals and particularly gay men were the most oppressed groups in Kazakhstan. The report cites research undertaken by a 2009 Soros Foundation study that indicated that 64% of LGBT respondents said that, although they did not face abuse in the workplace, they tended to conceal their sexual orientation to avoid this.

A joint report on Kazakhstan by the Sexual Rights Initiative and LGBT Organization Labrys highlights that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are often described in an offensive and discriminatory manner in the public sphere. Various instances support this claim. In 2014, a Kazakhstan court forced an advertising agency to pay damages to musicians who were offended by a gay club poster that depicted poet Alexander Pushkin kissing composer Kurmangazu Sagyrbayuly. The agency lost one case against Almaty City Hall which claimed that the poster violated ‘moral values’ by depicting ‘non-traditional sexual relations, which are unacceptable to society.’ In May 2014, there were dozens of anti-gay activists in front of a gay nightclub in Almaty to demonstrate against same-sex marriage. It is reported that the anti-gay protesters built a brick wall in front of the nightclub.

Despite the widespread homophobic sentiment in Kazakhstan, there are gay communities. Whilst some of these are clandestine, not all are hidden from society, and the first aboveground gay bar in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana opened in May 2012.

Whilst there is information available on societal attitudes towards gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, there is less publicly available information on transsexual and intersex people.

 

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)

No NGOs working with LGBTI persons in Kazakhstan are listed here, but we welcome suggestions.

 

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS (COIs)

We do not currently list any COI experts for Kazakhstan, but we welcome suggestions.

 

Researched by: Nicholas Cottrell
Email: n [dot] g [dot] a [dot] cottrellatgmail [dot] com

 

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