Kazakhstan’s Parliament Hears Another Call for Anti-Gay Law
A member of Kazakhstan’s parliament has called for a new law banning “homosexual relations,” upping the ante in the homophobic rhetoric that erupts from time to time in the legislature.Deputy Bakhytbek Smagul urged Kazakhstan to follow the lead of countries that criminalize homosexuality and draw up a bill to “root out homosexual relations,” and ban anything perceived to promote homosexuality (following Russia’s lead).The arguments put forward by Smagul – who sits in parliament for the ruling Nur Otan party, headed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev – were convoluted, touching on family values, demographics, and the “national mentality,” before invoking the ancient cultures of Central Asia and Kazakhstan’s location in a “strategic region.”“It is obvious that when the Kazakhstani national ideology is being shaped we cannot look at the future of the nation outside the family,” Smagul told parliament on October 2 in remarks quoted by Tengri News. “However, it is worth pondering what the level of development of the institution of the family will be in a country if such homosexual relations are openly advocated. In Central Asia, where ancient cultures intersect, and [in Kazakhstan,] as a state that is an active member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, this phenomenon damages the image of our country and its domestic policy.”Politicians in Kazakhstan rarely look to strife-torn Afghanistan for inspiration, but Smagul cited that nearby state (where homosexuality is criminalized) and Malaysia (where sodomy is criminalized) as examples to follow, as well as Indonesia (where same-sex relations are taboo but not illegal). Smagul also claimed, without providing substantiation to help his audience follow his logic, that countries allowing “such relations” are located in regions that do not face security threats. “But our country is located in a strategic region, where we have to be on our guard day and night,” fretted Smagul, wondering aloud how “men with a different orientation” can effectively guard the country’s borders. For good measure, he then turned to birthrates: “What contribution will [homosexuals] make to our country’s demography?”Homophobic rants are nothing new for Kazakhstan’s parliament: In May another Nur Otan deputy, Aldan Smayyl, called for a law which would consider homosexuals “criminals against humanity” and blustered that homosexuality is “amorality of the highest degree.” That outburst came days after parliamentary deputy Kairbek Suleymenov demanded “mechanisms” to counteract gay marriage, which is “alien to Kazakhstani psychology” and “traditions” – although there is no legal mechanism for gay marriage in Kazakhstan, nor is any planned.Smagul has sent a request to Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov to consider his bid for an anti-gay bill, but so far government officials have stood aside from the debate.