Temir Kalbaev

I used to think that I was the only guy in Kyrgyzstan who was gay. Everything changed at a party event held by the Kyrgyz Indigo team. I enjoyed their work as a team — it was so harmonious and inspiring. Later, I was able to visit their office and engaged with them as a volunteer; now, after four years of working here I feel like a professionally and personally well developed and devoted activist. We do advocacy work around human rights, empower LGBTI communities and work on different levels of HIV prevention and treatment.

I never start working without getting a cup of tea or coffee and having discussions with my colleagues. It feels like I am coming to my second home just do to my work. My colleagues and the people visiting our community centre to relax, talk to each other and enjoy the safe and friendly space really make me feel that I am home.

Kyrgyzstan has decriminalised homosexuality but the legislation does not provide any legal defense for LGBT people. Moreover, in 2014 the Kyrgyz Parliament introduced a discriminative bill on “gay propaganda” banning any mentions of LGBT life in the media and putting at risk the work of LGBT organisations. The bill passed its second reading, but, due to the efforts of civil society and international pressure, it is still stuck at this stage. Our priorities when it comes to legislation is to defeat this law and promote anti-discrimination legislation as a first legal defense for LGBT people and other vulnerable groups.

Inspirations and ideas often come to us from regional and international meetings and workshops, where we see the work of activists in different contexts and regimes. Events held by grass root organisations in particular encourage us to do more than we were doing currently. The rest of our motivation comes from our communities. Holding an event and getting positive feedbacks just makes us to forget every barrier and challenge we face. We do our work for our communities; when they see that and appreciate it, it just makes us want to do more.