On Thursday, August 22, an LGBTQ-activist filed two applications to hold the very first LGBTQ Rally in Kazakhstan. Rémy Bonny had an exclusive interview with the applicant.
While having huge economic developments in the metropolitan areas, Kazakh people experienced a crack-down on human rights in recent years. If the rally would go through, it would be the second ever rally for LGBTQ-equality in Central Asia.
The rallies would be organised both in the capital Nursultan (formerly Astana) and the largest city Almaty. “I filed an application on my behalf to hold a rally for around 1000 people in the two biggest cities of Kazakhstan. I’m awaiting the answer of the mayors’ their offices now.”, says activist Aidar Yelkeyev, who is one of the country’s main LGBTQ-activists.
The Kazakh society is very conservative. Planet Romeo ranked the country on the 118th place out of 120 countries in their Gay Happiness Index in 2015. Nevertheless, metropolitan areas saw a modest increase in tolerance. “There are no statistics, but we believe young people are a little more tolerant compared to other categories of the population.”
“There’s no on-going dialogue between any government and the LGBTQ-community in Kazakhstan. By taking these steps, I want to build a line of communication between our community and the government. This is in interest of all parties.”, Yelkeyev continues.
Right to Peaceful Assembly
The chances to get the necessary approvals to hold the rallies are limited. Only last February hundreds of anti-government protesters were detained as the ruling party (Nur-Oltan) was holding its annual conference. Amnesty International called for reparation payments for this unlawful action by the government. Something that didn’t happen.
“The approval of a rally for the LGBTQ-community would be a first step in the realisation of the right to peaceful assembly in my country.”, according to Yelkeyev.
In his application he referred to Article 32 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan that allows citizens to gather peacefully and without weapons, to hold meetings, rallies and demonstrations, marches and pickets.
Interestingly, he also referred to Paragraph 2 of Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, according to which “No one may be subjected to any discrimination on the grounds of origin, social, official and property status, gender, race, nationality, language, attitude to religion, beliefs, place of residence or for any other circumstances.”
The Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council found the attempt to implement an anti-LGBTQ propaganda law unconstitutional in 2015 – referring to the anti-discrimination clause in the Constitution.
“We didn’t sue the government. This is just an administrative procedure. We hope our local government follows the country’s law and rulings.”, Yelkeyev said.
“I also applied for the official registration of a new organisation QazEquality. The first time we got denied. So we applied a second time. We are still waiting for their answer.”
Post-Soviet Central Asia
If the rally gets approval, Kazakhstan would join the list of post-Soviet countries who held LGBTQ-ralies: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. Both Georgia and Kyrgyzstan held their first LGBTQ-rally this year. In both countries the public discussion on LGBTQ-rights became very fierce.
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