The former Soviet states of Kyrgyzstan and Georgia have been criticised by Human Rights Watch and ILGA Europe for backtracking on human rights.

Kyrgyzstan’s human rights record is today coming under scrutiny during the annual EU-Kyrgyzstan human rights dialogue, as well as by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which will decide whether to grant Kyrgyzstan ‘partnership for democracy’ status.

In recent months, officials in the country have stepped up homophobic rhetoric and moved to introduce legislation that would criminalise the dissemination of information about homosexuality or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues – so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’ – in line with Russia and Ukraine.

A court banned peaceful protests in several central locations in Kyrgyzstan’s capital until the beginning of May, and authorities failed to take any meaningful action when activists were harassed and threatened, prompting one to leave the country, fearing for his safety.

More recently, a group of provocateurs harassed representatives of the US-based rights organisation Freedom House in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan. Although the Freedom House team travelled to Osh to discuss a range of human rights issues, a crowd of approximately 30 people gathered outside the hotel where staff were staying, while several individuals held up posters with anti-LGBT slogans and calling NGO workers ‘perverts’.

Same-sex marriage ban in Georgia

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has become the latest European politician to propose a ban on same-sex marriage. Garibashvili moved to introduce the new law at the same time that new anti-discrimination legislation was introduced, arguing that: ‘Since there may be different opinions on the issue and there should be no speculations around this topic, I am proposing an initiative to insert a clause in the constitution, defining that family is a union between man and woman.’

ILGA Europe’s Executive Director Evelyne Paradis said: ‘Constitutional bans are highly symbolic measures to enshrine discrimination in law and to prevent debates on recognition for same-sex couples. Very few of the countries which ban marriage equality in their constitutions grant any form of rights to same-sex couples.

‘These bans are largely tools used by those who oppose equality for LGBTI people to institutionalise discrimination against LGBTI people. By doing so, political leaders and politicians only fuel homophobia and give further credence to groups – especially religious extremists – who use an anti-gay rhetoric to gain influence in society.’