Reviving this blog

It has been more than two years since my last entry. I don’t follow current events as much as I would like to but at the same time I think a lot about gender perspective and what it means in Kyrgyzstan. Most recently I am looking at legal and medical regulation of (homo)sexuality and gender identity in Kyrgyzstan within the past 20 years. It is a massive amount of work with 1990s being recoverable mostly through fragments of memories and hopefully newspaper articles if I manage to find them. Some of the questions that I am looking at is who and why decided to decriminalize homosexuality in Kyrgyzstan in 1998, how the process of adopting ICD-10 went in Kyrgyzstan especially in relation to homosexuality which all of a sudden was not treatable anymore. In the 2000s I am interested in looking at how interest/civil society groups were formed around ‘queer’ identities.

Originally I thought that I would be writing a story of the small ‘LGBT’ movement in Kyrgyzstan but somehow right now I feel that this story that I am working on is more about development and international institutions.
I know, for example, that women’s organizations started to form in Kyrgyzstan closer to 1997-1998 with funding available from Counterpart Consortium, USIS and Soros Foundation – Kyrgyzstan. What kind of participation of ‘civil society’ was present before 1997, история умалчивает. I really want to know what happened between 1991 and 1997. What was the reform of psychiatry field like? How did the reform of the criminal code reflect the neoliberal blueprint that was part of ‘transition’ that attracted foreign funders and set Kyrgyzstan in an ‘island of democracy’ mode. Sometimes I think that Kyrgyzstan is a success story guinea pig. It’s small enough and flexible enough to test new models and implement them without much resistance but quickly and in a way that attracts more funds because now there is so much to build on.

Vigil on the occasion of Transgender Remembrance Day in Bishkek

Candles at Ala Too Square on Transgender Remembrance Day 

Every year around 40 transgender people are reported to be murdered worldwide.  Dozens and maybe hundreds more go unreported.  Since 1998 transgender movements all over the world commemorate 20 November as a Transgender Remembrance Day.Policeman who wanted to know what was happeningPoliceman who wanted to know what was happening  

Bishkek activists, mostly lesbian, bisexual women and transgender people gathered at Ala-Too square to honor those transgender people who were killed in hate crimes.  In Kyrgyzstan transgender people often experience violence from their families, police and street gangs.  There were no murder cases reported, but the activist community is aware of dozens of cases of severe violence against transgender people. The Kyrgyz cases include death threats, persecution and severe beatings from families. One transgender woman had to flee Kyrgyzstan fearing for her life.

Participants of the event lit candles for 26 murdered transgender people and released 26 baloons with the victims’ names on them.  Each event participant had two candles and balloons with case information.

 Transgender Remembrance Day

 The organizers of event feared that the police might detain them for an unsanctioned meeting, yet the policeperson who stopped by only asked what was happening.

Policeman who wanted to know what was happening