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Kazakh Senate passes anti-gay draft law

Photo courtesy pravmir.ru Photo courtesy pravmir.ru

The Senate of Kazakhstan has approved a draft law aimed at protecting children from information harmful to their health and development, Tengrinews reports.

The draft law took four years to prepare after the initiative was put forward by Kazakh MPs.

In August 2013 Aldan Smayil said that Kazakhstan needed a legislation that would enable it to close down gay clubs and bringing their owners to justice. He also declared that the idea of gay pride parades in Kazakhstan was unacceptable and that representatives of sexual minorities needed help of psychologists.

"The draft provides a ban on information products depicting cruelty and violence, provoking children to life-threatening acts, including suicide, containing scenes of pornographic, sexual and erotic nature, promoting non-traditional sexual orientation," said Aldan Smayil, a member of the Majilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, presenting the draft law at the plenary session of the Senate, the upper chamber, on February 19.

He said that the draft law defines age groups and specifies content that is appropriate to each of them. There are 5 age groups: children under the age of 6, those older than 6 y.o., those older than 12, 14+, and 16+.

"Television channels will be allowed to broadcast only the content marked in accordance with these requirement. Otherwise, they will be subject to penalties as provided by the law. The draft law provides legal ways to remove harmful information products from circulation. It also defines the time when live TV and radio shows or movies suitable for children can be put on air," Smayil said.

It also creates legal grounds for inspection of computer, electronic and online games. They also have to be age rated.

The content and design of information products used for training and education of children in preschool and other education institutions will be closely monitored.

"We have to admit that the information space is now filled by those who misinterpret freedom in their favour, i.e. with those who use the freedom not for the benefit of society and the people, but for selfish interests and sometimes criminal activities, so our public and personal duty is to protect children from harmful information," the MP said.

According to Smayil the draft law is a set of legal measures aimed to "to protect children from information that kills the feeling of warmth and humanity, which is harmful to the health and psyche, promotes violence and is, in short, spiritually devastating to the younger generation."

Kazakh Senator Nurlan Orazalin has spoken in support of the draft. He said that the law in may ways determined the fate of the future generations. "Our teens today are the leaders of our country tomorrow," he said.

A companion draft law that was approved approved by the Kazakh Senate alongside the main draft law introduces amendments to the Administrative Code to provide liability for dissemination of information prohibited for children and persons younger than 18. The authorized body in the field of information shall have the function to impose the administrative penalties.

The new law covers a wide range of matters that do not infringe on any freedoms and are uniformly supported by all the population groups in Kazakhstan. The clauses that prohibit 'propaganda' of same-sex relations are the only part of the law that trespasses personal freedoms. But they, too, have met few to no resentment in the society. In Kazakhstan, the LGBT community is so small and feeble that it constitutes no political or economic power and thus has no say in legislative matters.

Besides, banning same-sex relations is traditional for Kazakhstan. Homosexuality had been a criminal office until 1997 and stopped being officially illegal only 16 years ago. Such a short span is clearly not enough to change an attitude. Same-sex relations are viewed as unacceptable, amoral and shameful in Kazakhstan, and are openly condemned.

However before this new draft law came to be, Kazakhstan had been moving towards liberalisation and freedoms, not away from them. 

Kazakhstan signed several international treaties on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which prohibit discrimination on any grounds, including (as it follows from resolutions of the UN Committee on Human Rights) discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.

Reporting by Renat Tashkinbayev, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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