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Uzbekistan considers chilling bill to criminalise speaking out for LGBT+ rights

Lily Wakefield April 2, 2021

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, president of Uzbekistan. (Presidency of Uzbekistan/ Handout/ Anadolu Agency via Getty)

It could soon be illegal in Uzbekistan to publicly back the legalisation of gay sex, following the passing of a new law banning criticism of the president online.

On Wednesday (31 March) Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the president of Uzbekistan, signed into law amendments to the country’s criminal code which ban “insult and slander” of the president online, by media or individuals. The legislation does not specify what qualifies as an “insult”.

The new law could be an indication of what’s so come, as the country is currently considering a draft of many more changes to the criminal code.

Uzbekistan currently bans consensual same-sex sexual conduct under Article 120 of the current criminal code, and violations can be punished with up to three years in prison.

The new draft would keep the ban, but would add to the code that gay sex is a crime “against family, children and morality”.

Under the laws currently being considered, however, even criticising the ban on same-sex sexual relations could become illegal.

According to Human Rights Watch, would also ban “disrespect for society, the state, state symbols (national and universal values)” as well as any call to public protest “in violation of the established order”.

While not yet technically illegal, criticism of Uzbekistan’s president and the government’s laws against gay sex is far from safe.

As well as being criminalised, LGBT+ people in Uzbekistan commonly face violence, threats and extortion.

This week, Uzbek LGBT+ activist Miraziz Bazarov was hospitalised after he was beaten with a baseball bat for speaking out against the criminalisation of gay sex.

Bazarov, 29, suffered multiple injures to his internal organs and legs, including an open fracture of the left femur, and a severe concussion.

Although he had received several threats leading up to the attack and had alerted police at least ten times, no action was taken.

More: uzbekistan

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