LGBT rights in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan (orthographic projection).svg
StatusLegal since 1998[1]
Gender identityTransgender people allowed to change gender following surgery, medical examinations, hormone therapy and sterilization
Discrimination protectionsNo
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex unions

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Kazakhstan are limited. LGBT persons in Kazakhstan face legal and social challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Kazakhstan, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.[1]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity have been legal in Kazakhstan since 1998.[1] The age of consent is 16.[2]

Prior to 1997, Article 104 of the Penal Code of Kazakhstan used to criminalise "buggery". This legislation followed the corresponding Section 121 from the former Soviet Union, which only specifically criminalised anal intercourse between men.[3]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

Since 2003, transgender individuals have been allowed to change their legal gender on their official identity documents in Kazakhstan. People who wanted to change their gender had to receive a diagnosis of "gender identity disorder" involving several medical tests and a 30-day psychiatric evaluation. In 2011, new guidelines were established and allowed change to identity documents only after sex reassignment surgery, physical and psychiatric medical examinations, hormone therapy and sterilization. Additionally, people under 21 are not allowed to change their gender on their official identity documents.[4][5]

Military service[edit]

LGBT people are banned from serving in the military.[6]

Freedom of speech and expression[edit]

On 26 May 2015, the Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan declared a pending bill, which would have banned the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual orientation", unconstitutional. The council rejected it because of its vague wording. The bill passed the Senate, Parliament's upper house, in February 2015 and was sent to President Nursultan Nazarbayev for signature. It had already been approved by the lower house.[7] Human Rights Watch said: "By rejecting this propaganda bill, Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council set an important precedent against the adoption of discriminatory legislation."

In September 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that two women would receive compensation from a Facebook user who posted a video showing them kissing without their permission. The video solicited a large number of homophobic and murderous comments, and was viewed 60,000 times in a day before being taken down by the user. Human Rights Watch hailed the ruling as a milestone for privacy rights.[8]

Public opinion[edit]

In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, an LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Kazakhstan was ranked 118th, just above Ghana and below Burkina Faso, with a GHI score of 29.[9]

Living conditions[edit]

LGBT people in Kazakhstan face discrimination and prejudice on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity during the course of their everyday lives. Manifestation of negative attitudes toward LGBT people, such as social exclusion, taunting, and violence, often cause the victims physical, psychological and emotional harm. In order to avoid the dangers posed by people who do not approve of non-heterosexual sexual orientations, many LGBT people feel compelled to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity a secret from almost all people in their lives. The majority regard it as necessary to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity from people in the workplace in order to retain their jobs and avoid hostility from bosses and co-workers. Attempts to report homophobic and transphobic violence to police are often met with resistance and even hostility on the part of law enforcement officers.[10]

A 2011 cross-national study by University of Chicago demonstrated that a trend of LGBT acceptance is either slowed or reversed in Russia and some other former USSR republics, a direct opposite of world trends.[11]


According to a 2018 survey, conducted by the Republican Centre for AIDS Prevention and Control and the Kazakh Ministry of Health, there were about 62,000 men who have sex with men in Kazakhstan; about 6,000 in Almaty, 3,300 in Astana, and 4,900 in Karaganda Region.[12] This number, however, is expected to be higher, due to societal homophobia which may prevent individuals from coming out.

Summary table[edit]

LGBT flag of Kazakhstan
Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1998)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1998)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 2003)
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]



"The study of the level of tolerance towards LGBT-community of Kazakhstan 2016."