Being Gay In Kazakhstan: "If You Do This Secretly, Everything Is Good"

LGBT citizens of the country report living in a "constant state of fear."

When Kazakhstan placed a bid to host the 2022 Olympics, it gave hope to the central Asian country's LGBT community, who knew it would draw attention to the discrimination and harassment they routinely face.

Ultimately, the nation lost the bid, and with it the prospect of Kazakhstan facing any international pressure to change its homophobic ways.

"When we were there, LGBT people in Kazakhstan told me about the constant state of fear they live in," said Kyle Knight, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Homosexual activity was decriminalized in Kazakhstan in 1998, but the LGBT community still lives in silence. Police routinely ignore gang attacks on gay men, and doctors often refuse to treat the victims..

Dance teacher Arman Bima says that most gay men in Kazakhstan are closeted, believing it will protect them from mistreatment.

"They repeat the things that say, 'No, why I should say to everyone I am gay? If you do this secretly, everything is good.' But it's not true. Everyone has the problem," he says.

Trans people suffer even more—Kazakhstani laws make it nearly impossible to change their gender on official documents.

Trans activist Tim Shenker believes the biggest problem is that his countrymen don't understand the concept of human rights to begin with.

"They don't care for their own rights," Shenker says. "They don't know that they have rights, so of course they don't think about the rights of other groups of people."

h/t: NPR

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