An appellate case involving a young homosexual man convicted of distributing pornographic films is shaping up as an important test for gay rights in Kyrgyzstan. Local rights activists contend that that the defendant, Mikhail Kudryashov, was entrapped and is a victim of gender-related bias at the hands of police and prosecutors.
Kudryashov’s appeal is currently being heard in Bishkek after a lower court found him guilty this past winter, handing out an 18-month suspended sentence and validating the confiscation of personal property, including a video camera. The defendant claims that in mid-2010 a young man phoned him out of the blue and told him, “I haven’t known for a long time.” The phrase was a code that closeted homosexuals used at the time to gain entry into the gay community. Having earned his trust, the young man persuaded Kudryashov to meet with him and sell him two films of an erotic nature as a one-time “favor.” Kudryashov, who had not previously sold films, freely admits that he agreed to the transaction.
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.