Amir Shaikezhanov

At certain point two years ago I realised that I do not wish to stay in closet anymore and that I have the capacity and willingness not only to be open about myself but also to speak up about LGBT issues more broadly. At the time the gay community was smaller, and we would have regular discussions and educate each other.

At this moment I do not belong to or run an official organisation (though that is soon to change). What I do as an activist is create visibility for the LGBT community in the media, support the community by organising regular meetings and support groups. I also contribute to the LGBT portal Kok.team that aims to expand and educate the LGBT community and its allies.

At this point there is very little support from the government; we do not face direct obstructions even though some parliament members allow themselves to use homophobic, transphobic and other hateful language. There are no anti-discrimination laws in place and a lot of generally discriminatory moods at large in society, including homophobia, transphobia and misogyny. LGBT people are not allowed to marry, to serve in the military, to adopt children or to use surrogate mothers; transgender people are forced to undergo sex reassignment surgery to obtain passports with their correct gender.

You cannot just stay standing still when you see that people are in need. I feel inspired whenever I get supportive messages from allies that prove that society is not as hostile towards LGBT people as propaganda claims. I would feel satisfied if I saw proper anti-discrimination laws in place, if government updates all mentioned above regulations to be inclusive of LGBT people and supports the society in becoming more accepting and tolerant. I know this will take some time, however, I am ready to put in as much effort as needed.

I do believe that Kazakh society can be very light-hearted and open-minded, were it not for ignorance regarding certain questions and political and economic instability. I am sure that if parliament is allowed to reform current legislation, we will be on the way to becoming a more stable and trustworthy country, with proper education that promotes sexual and gender equality. We can become a united and strong society of accepting and educated people.