The most common refrain from the lesbians, bisexual women, women who have sex with women, and transgender men that Human Rights Watch spoke with for this report was the simplest: acknowledge that we exist. Such an acknowledgement means they are bearers of rights, and that their sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be used to deny those rights or subject them to violence or discrimination.
As an essential first step, authorities should publicly reaffirm that all such people have a right to live free from discrimination and violence and that any acts to the contrary are illegal and will be prosecuted. They should repeat the same message whenever an incident of discrimination or abuse comes to light.
These recommendations spell out that principle in greater detail.
Educate law enforcement and the judiciary about lesbians and transgender men:
- Require members of the police and the judiciary to engage in outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and civil society agents representing their concerns, to explore barriers to justice and protection and ways to overcome them.
- Train law enforcement and judicial personnel in recognizing, investigating, and prosecuting domestic violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Ensure that such training is fully integrated into existing training programs and provided to personnel at all ranks.
- Refrain from statements that incite hatred, violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.
- End and repudiate all violence and harassment by police and other agents of the state against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. Credible, independent oversight bodies including the Office of the Ombudsman should be empowered to investigate all allegations of police and official misconduct.
- Establish an independent mechanism to monitor and oversee police treatment of female and transgender victims of violence.
Educate the public:
- Undertake campaigns of awareness-raising, directed to the general public as well as to actual and potential perpetrators of violence, in order to combat the prejudices that underlie violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Launch a national public education campaign about rights protections, legal remedies, and social services available for victims of violence and discrimination, particularly as they relate to womens rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Distribute (in Kyrgyz and Russian) information about the Law on Social-Legal Protection from Domestic Violence, provisions of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic on assault, and constitutional protections for privacy and guarantees of equality before the law. Make information available through the state media, libraries, schools, and other public institutions.
Legal and policy measures:
- Implement fully the 2003 Law on Social-Legal Protection from Domestic Violence, ensuring that all criminal justice personnel are educated about its provisions and are prepared to enforce them and that the general public is aware of the provisions and informed about their rights. Ensure that authorities effectively gather statistics about reported cases of domestic violence under the provisions of the law, including violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity. These statistics should include information about all actions taken by police and other authorities in response to complaints, and should be disseminated widely and in a timely way.
- Amend Kyrgyz law to ensure that wherever family ties are taken into consideration, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender partners and their children will be considered on an equal basis with other forms of family and heterosexual relationships.
- Include sexual orientation- and gender identitybased discrimination expressly in the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman as an issue to be monitored and addressed.
- In accordance with the concerns of the CEDAW Committee during its 2004 review of Kyrgyzstan, develop inclusive and non-discriminatory policies and programs for all womens financial empowerment: including ensuring safety on transportation routes, providing job training programs, launching legal aid programs that are free of charge or economically accessible, strengthening prohibitions on discrimination in employment, and providing remuneration for labor by all members of the household.
- Amend the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic to include a single, gender-neutral criminal provision on rape, including criminalizing marital rape.
- Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and other measures to respect and legally recognize each persons self-defined gender identity, and to ensure that procedures exist whereby all state-issued identity papers which indicate a persons gender/sex reflect the persons self-defined gender identity. Ensure that changes to identity documents will be recognized in all contexts where the identification or disaggregation of persons by gender is required by law or policy.
- Amend article 15 of the constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic to bar discrimination on all grounds recognized in international human rights law and jurisprudence, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
Improve direct services for lesbians and transgender men:
- Establish new and financially support existing short-term crisis response centers and long-term shelters that can provide targeted assistance to lesbians and transgender men, and their minor children, either with other victims of violence or in independent facilities. Provide necessary security to ensure victims safety during their stay. Ensure that such shelters provide mediation with abusers only at the victims request.
- The Ministry of Health should work with other agencies to ensure the training of healthcare providers, social workers, educators, and medical students about sexual orientation and gender identity, including transgender healthcare and domestic violence. Ensure that training is fully integrated into existing curricula and provided to healthcare professionals at all ranks. Civil society, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender NGOs, should be consulted at all stages of the process.
- Increase financial and technical assistance to civil society organizations providing services to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people who have suffered violence, including domestic violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Specifically, increase funding for community organizing, advocacy, and direct services to lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender men. Services could include short and long-term shelters, legal aid, crisis hotlines, counseling, medical assistance, and job training.
To International Financial Institutions
- The World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development should include gender-based violence and discrimination against lesbians and transgender men among the issues raised in their country strategies for Kyrgyzstan, and encourage the Kyrgyz authorities to take adequate measures to address them.
- All parts of the UN working on Kyrgyzstan, with particular attention from the human rights mechanisms and UN agencies, should be attentive to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity as they relate to their mandates.
To the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
- Include human rights and, specifically, discrimination and violence against lesbians and transgender menincluding domestic violenceamong the components of the OSCE Police Assistance Program for Kyrgyzstan. Work with local and international human rights groups to integrate human rights and attention to the problem of violence against lesbians and transgender men into projects already in the assistance program.
To the European Union
- Raise the issue of violence and discrimination against lesbians and transgender men in meetings with senior Kyrgyz government officials. Encourage the government of Kyrgyzstan to enforce laws against violence and implement laws against discrimination.
- Ensure that Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States(TACIS) and related EuropeAid funding for direct servicesincluding legal and psychological counseling and housing and medical treatmentincludes and reaches lesbian, bisexual, and transgender victims of violence. Fund civil society initiatives that conduct research and advocacy on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender human rights.
To the United States Government
- Ensure that USAID and other U.S. government funding for direct services to victims of violenceincluding legal and psychological counseling and housing and medical treatmentalso reaches lesbian and transgender victims and organizations that offer them services. Fund civil society initiatives that conduct research and advocacy on lesbian and transgender human rights.
- Raise the issue of gender-based violence, including violence and discrimination against lesbians and transgender men, in meetings with senior Kyrgyz government officials. Encourage the government of Kyrgyzstan to enforce laws against violence and implement laws prohibiting discrimination against lesbians and transgender men.