Press release

Kazakhstan: New Restrictions on Freedom of Expression, LGBTI Rights

Freedom House issued the following statement in response to the passage by Kazakhstan's Senate of a vaguely worded law requiring all internet publications to register, and banning foreign broadcasts containing "propaganda of a non-traditional sexual orientation."

Washington

In response to the passage by Kazakhstan's Senate of a vaguely worded law requiring all internet publications to register, and banning foreign broadcasts containing "propaganda of a non-traditional sexual orientation," Freedom House issued the following statement:

"This law will take a bad freedom of expression situation in Kazakhstan and make it worse," said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia programs. "Requiring internet sites to register is the latest official effort to censor speech. And despite the government’s claim, banning “propaganda of a non-traditional sexual orientation” has nothing to do with the safety of children. It is simply a disguise for discrimination and intolerance that will allow government censors to punish speech they don’t like. The bill should be rejected."

Background:
On February 19, the upper house of Kazakhstan's Parliament, the Senate, passed amendments to a number of laws "for the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development." The amendments extend stiff regulations already applied to print publications to vaguely defined "online publications." 

Authorities in Kazakhstan commonly use these regulations to fine, harass, and close print publications, and the regulations will likely be used in the same fashion against online publications. The clause banning "propaganda of a non-traditional sexual orientation" was inserted late and mirrors language used in similar laws enacted in Russia and under consideration in Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014