Today on Human Rights Day, 10 December, ARTICLE 19 is launching a new report “Don’t Provoke, Don’t Challenge” The Censorship and Self-Censorship of the LGBT Community in Kazakhstan.
Don’t Provoke, Don’t Challenge reveals the vast number of challenges faced by LGBT people in Kazakhstan in exercising their right to freedom of expression. LGBT individuals are both directly censored, often on the grounds of ‘protecting morality’, and indirectly silenced, self-censoring in fear of harassment and violence. There are also barriers to accessing platforms for disseminating and accessing information and ideas about LGBT issues. The situation is exacerbated by societal prejudices and a lack of legal protection against discrimination.
“The failure of the Kazakh authorities to ensure the right to free expression of LGBT people represents a major violation of human rights, undermining the rights of all people to access information on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity;” said Katie Morris, Head of the Europe and Central Asia Programme at ARTICLE 19.
The dominant rhetoric around gender identity and sexual orientation must be challenged, by both government and civil society, in order to tackle hate speech against LGBT individuals and create an environment which favours the freedom of expression of all people.
“Unfortunately restrictions on the rights of LGBT people, while particularly blatant, are part of a broader pattern of suppressing free expression in Kazakhstan. It is essential that civil society works together to promote freedom of expression for all citizens, recognising the universality of human rights. The rights of one section of the population cannot be suppressed simply due to the prejudices of the majority;” Morris added.
Suppressing and censoring differing viewpoints is not the solution to discrimination and intolerance: this report recommends that positive policy measures should be adopted in order to tackle the root causes of prejudice. A coherent legal framework must also be implemented to prohibit incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence, but this framework must uphold the principles of freedom of expression.