Police storm international meeting for gay rights in Kyrgyzstan

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Human rights groups have highlighted the plight of the LGBT community in Kyrgyzstan after a police raid on a leading gay rights group.

Police forced their way into the premises of the LGBT group Labrys, which was in the midst of hosting a dinner for 30 domestic and international advocates.

Members of the Kyrgyz Anti-AIDS Association and other local groups were joined by international partners from organizations including COC, the Dutch LGBT association that is the world’s oldest gay groups and Gender Doc-M, an LGBT group in Moldova.

Police threatened to arrest anyone who did not produce identification papers.

Founded in 2004, Labrys recently opened its social centre and library as a safe meeting place for LGBT Kyrgyzstanis as well as a shelter for transgenders and women who have been victims of violence.

Learning from previous experience members of Labrys called human rights lawyers in an attempt to pacify the situation.

A deal was negotiated with a senior police commander in which no arrests were made. In return Labrys promised to provide documentation about its work to authorities.

Further outrage ensued when an article appeared in a leading newspaper in Uzbekistan which accused the gay rights group of being “sexual perverted.”

The article, which appeared in Press-Uz, was entitled “Kyrgyz Militia Checked Pederasts and Prostitutes from Netherlands”

The article describes Labrys as an organization defending interests of “pederasts” and “prostitutes”.

The article reminds its readers that Netherlands was among the first countries in the world, which legalized prostitution, “sodomy”, and use of drugs.

Kyrgyz human rights defender Dmitriy Kabak has sent the editors a letter of protest in which he questioned their ethics and adherence to providing objective truth.

During Soviet times, state atheism was encouraged.

Today, however, Kyrgyzstan is a secular state though Islam has exerted growing influence in politics.

There have been various attempts to decriminalize polygamy and to arrange for officials to take the pilgrimage to Mecca under a tax-free arrangement.