No Sex in Advertising Please, We’re Uzbek

A draft bill in Uzbekistan is pursuing a markedly puritanical line with its rules to ban eroticism in commercials and online advertising for gambling.

The proposed legislation was posted online this week and the government has said it will invite public consultation until March 24.

While aggressively hounding anybody vaguely suspected of holding radical Islamic views, authorities in Uzbekistan have over many years also sought to stamp out perceived immorality and promote conservative values.

President Islam Karimov gave a stark illustration of that at a public event in February, when he robustly condemned same-sex relationships.

“If a man lives with a man, or a woman with a women, I think that something there isn’t quite right, or some change has happened,” Karimov was quoted as saying by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Uzbek service, Radio Ozodlik.

Some conservative drives are promoted under the pretext of protecting national cultural values.

In December, BBC News cited local media as reporting that professional musicians were being compelled to provide regular reports on their appearances on pain of being stripped of their licenses.

“The government has ordered the Uzbeknavo performing rights authority to tighten up licensing after accusing it, the national broadcaster, internet regulators, and the culture ministry of allowing performances ‘that can have a negative impact on the moral upbringing of the younger generation,’” the BBC reported.

Music of an excessively Western bent was targeted in 2011, when a documentary airing on a state youth-oriented television station described rock music and rap as literally the work of the devil. The program explained disapprovingly that rock had its roots in “African hunting rituals,” while hip-hop was deemed suspect for its associations with prison culture.

Parts of the draft advertising bill are intended to protect children from potentially harmful influences. Accordingly, commercials aimed at the underage cannot feature real or toy weapons and cannot show minors being exposed to dangerous situations. Advertisers will be barred from using words like “only” or “as little as” in relation to the cost of goods for children to avoid creating a false impression about real prices. 

Authorities also want to protect children from bad food.

“The advertisements should not encourage children to increase the amount of good that they they eat, or to replace things in their diet with snacks, like candy etc,” the draft law states.

No Sex in Advertising Please, We’re Uzbek

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