Monday, May 19, 2014

Things have gotten bad for gay Kazakhs

A year ago, I read about the gay wedding held in Karaganda, Kazakhstan in my favorite Kazakhstani blog, Vox Populi. The BBC even picked up the story. The bloggers at Vox Pop have a real talent at finding interesting angles to explore  Kazakhstani culture. While posts in the English-language version of the site are delayed a bit as they are translated from the originals on the Russian version of the blog, and the English after translation is not perfect, the posts are still very readable and the photography is really excellent. Sometimes I look at the Russian version just for the pictures even if I cannot understand most of the text.

After having a few conversations in Kazakhstan with locals about homosexuality, I appreciated that it took real guts for those two women to get married so publicly and for Vox Pop to cover the wedding. Plus, the wedding was in Karaganda, not the cosmopolitan big cities like Almaty or Astana. (Almaty is the only place I know of in Central Asia that has gay bars)

But this is still really shocking. Also, at least one of those gay bars in Almaty is being walled off. Both the murder and the walled off bar is coming in the heels of a legislative proposal to criminalized homosexuality. Over the past few months, Kazakhstani lawmakers seem to have been following Russia's lead on gay issues.

In 2010 I never would have called Kazakhstan particularly gay friendly, but things really seem to be taking a dark turn for the gay community in that country.