In Almaty, Kazakhstan's biggest city, dozens of antigay activists set about building a wall around a gay nightclub, reports Radio Free Europe. It's unclear whether the brick wall, set up as a protest against gay marriage, was designed to prevent people from entering or leaving, but according to RFE, the establishment's owner opted against notifying police.
Homosexuality has been decriminalized in Kazakhstan, a Muslim-majority country, but gay marriage is not recognized. The agit-prop around the gay nightclub comes at a dark moment: Earlier in the month, a lesbian woman who had engaged in Kazakhstan's first "public" gay wedding in 2013 was found brutally murdered, her body reportedly dismembered and burned, according to the BBC.
It's unclear whether the government in Astana will institute the same harsh penalties on homosexuality that have been enacted in Russia by President Vladimir Putin. They are, though, being drafted in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Here's the Economist:
Civil-society activists in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital, fear that Russia, still the dominant economic force in the region, is pushing an anti-liberal ideology on its neighbours. But Russia may have simply provided a legislative model to reinforce existing conservative attitudes. Either way, with Russian media dominating Central Asians’ television screens, gay, bisexual and transgender rights have become synonymous with a degenerate West. At a recent anti-gay rally outside the American embassy in Bishkek, angry young men burned a picture of a young blogger, equating his support for the pro-European movement in Ukraine with gay rights.
A report in the Guardian today says as many as 2.7 billion on the planet live in societies where being gay can lead to imprisonment or violent torture and punishment.
Tomorrow, May 17, marks the annual International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, but rights activists fear they don't have much to celebrate. A statement issued by Amnesty International today summed up the situation:
Ahead of a season of Pride events, governments across the globe need to step up and fulfil their responsibility to allow people to express themselves, protected from homophobic violence,” said Michael Bochenek, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Law and Policy...
“It’s outrageous that in 2014 authorities around the world are failing to legislate against or investigate homophobic and transphobic hate crimes. Even more grating is the fact that in many countries [LGBT] people are themselves the target of criminal charges and state violence,” said Michael Bochenek.
There are many walls outside of Kazakhstan that still need to be torn down.