IE SOGI refers to the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Although same-sex relations have been legal since 1998, Kyrgyzstan remains socially conservative. Societal attitudes toward LGBTIQ people are pervasively negative, with LGBTIQ people being seen as “deviant” and a threat to traditional cultural and gender roles. An increase in LGBTIQ activism has led to heightened LGBTIQ visibility, which has, in turn, sparked a backlash with increased attacks against LGBTIQ people, as well as increased hostility and misrepresentation by the media. The proposal of a so-called “gay propaganda” law based on the one in force in Russia in 2014 exacerbated aggression and, despite being withdrawn in 2016, added to the politicization of the human rights of LGBTIQ people. Nationalist politicians and populists have used the increased attention on LGBTIQ human rights as an example of “western influence” and attacks on “traditional” Kyrgyz society. Hate crimes against LGBTIQ people are common, and go unreported for fear of secondary victimization. Despite these challenges, there have been some positive signs for LGBTIQ equality. In 2017, the Minister of Health approved a manual which calls for improvements in social and medical assistance for transgender people, and decreases the necessary requirements to legally change one’s gender. In another tentative sign of change, the LGBTIQ community had a strong and visible presence at the 2019 Women’s Day March in central Bishkek.