Legislative Analysis Related to LGBT Rights and HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia


This report offers an analysis of legislation and other regulatory acts and documents, as well as international human rights obligations related to HIV and the rights of MSM and trans* people in nine countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine. The EECA region is one of two regions in the world where HIV prevalence and AIDS-related deaths are increasing. Men who have sex with men (MSM) and trans* people in the region are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic and very often lack access to the necessary health services.

In addition to an increased risk of HIV infection, MSM and trans* people in the region are subject to discrimination, stigma, violence, and other human rights abuses on a daily basis. Social stigma, discriminatory legislation, and homo- or transphobic violence are pervasive in countries of the region. Despite these problems, governments have refused to implement greater human rights protections for these vulnerable populations. As a result, MSM and trans* people suffer from high rates of depression, suicide, and HIV and STI infection, and, in many cases, are unable to fulfill their potential and live productive lives.

All of the countries of the region are party to key human rights conventions, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). These conventions impose human rights obligations on states-parties. Human rights norms, such as the prohibition on discrimination, the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, the protection of one’s private life, and the prohibition on torture and other forms of degrading treatment play important roles within the context of the rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV (PLWH). The countries analyzed in this report are bound by their international human rights obligations to ensure these rights for all citizens.

National legislation also affects the lives of LGBT people and PLWH in countries of the region. Travel and immigration bans on PLWH or the criminalization of HIV transmission may unfairly discriminate against PLWH. Laws related to antidiscrimination, changing one’s legal gender, or bans on “homosexual propaganda” also have a negative impact on the lives of LGBT people in EECA countries.

In addition, these laws contribute to the difficult climate for community-led advocacy in the region. Civil society organizations and other community groups face significant barriers to implementing successful advocacy initiatives aimed at bringing about legislative change.

This report examines these issues and makes recommendations to governments and civil society organizations, aimed at improving the legislative situation in the region. Individual country reports and factsheets are provided in annexes to this report.

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This page has been funded by grant 2014097 to the Consortium of MSM and Transgender Networks by the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund.