Kazakhstan: Ad company ordered to pay $188,000 in ‘damages’ over gay kiss poster

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An advertising agency in Kazakhstan has been hit with yet another a fine over a poster of two 19th Century cultural figures kissing.

The controversial advert for a gay club in Almaty, which went up in August, features Kazakh composer Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly and Russian poet Anexander Pushkin locking lips.

Last month, a court found advertising agency Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan guilty of advertising ‘banned goods and services’, and they were hit with a $1700 fine.

Now, after losing an appeal against the ruling, the company has now been hit with yet another fine for “damages” amounting to 34 million tenge ($188,000).

EurasiaNet reports the award is to be paid to a group of music students whose only connection to the image is that they study and work at the Kurmangazy Kazakh National Conservatory.

“This 34 million will ruin our company,” said Dariya Khamitzhanova, director of the Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan agency.

She called the ruling “unfair” and said she couldn’t pledge to appeal because the courts had frozen the agency’s assets.

One of the artists involved in creating the advert was quoted to have said: “One can be proud of this work. First of all because it works: people understand and remember the address.

“Secondly, it is a brave work, and in the case of the gay movement, traditionally living on the edge, it is more than accurate and justified.”

Despite homosexuality being decriminalised in 1998, anti-gay attitudes are still common in Kazakhstan.