Washington, D.C.—In advance of tomorrow’s C5+1 ministerial meetings, Human Rights First today called on Secretary of State John Kerry to integrate the concerns of marginalized Central Asian communities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, into human rights discussions with his counterparts. The secretary will meet publicly with the foreign ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan tomorrow morning to discuss a number of issues, including regional security, economic connectivity, climate change, and humanitarian concerns.
Tomorrow’s meetings mark the second time the six leaders have met as part of the C5+1 format to discuss unified approaches to regional concerns and interests. In November 2015, at the inaugural C5+1 meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the leaders issued a Joint Declaration of Partnership and Cooperation which detailed nine commitments the leaders agreed to jointly work towards, one of which was to “protect human rights…and strengthen civil society.”
“Regionally, we are witnessing disturbing step backwards when it comes to fundamental human rights,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We have been closely tracking efforts to adopt propaganda laws in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. We are hearing new reports of a crackdown on NGOs in Tajikistan. And, of course, in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan people can still face prison sentences just for being a member of the LGBT community. These issues must be part of any dialogue the U.S. engages in with these countries.”
Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to prevent the spread of Russian-style propaganda laws in the surrounding region. Human Rights First’s blueprint, “How to Stop Russia from Exporting Homophobia” details how Russia’s homophobic laws and policies have spread throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and outlines key steps that the U.S. government can take to stop the spread of laws and policies that infringe on the human rights of the LGBT community.
This article was originally featured on Human Rights First.