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Kazakh Firm Fined For Gay Club Advertisement

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

This image of Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin kissing Kazakh composer Qurmanghazy Saghyrbaiuly outraged many in Kazakhstan.

This image of Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin kissing Kazakh composer Qurmanghazy Saghyrbaiuly outraged many in Kazakhstan.

A Kazakh company behind a controversial advertisement for a gay club in Almaty has been ordered to pay about $180,000 to 34 students who filed a lawsuit against the firm.

Daria Khamidzhanova, director of the Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan Company, said she was "shocked" by the Almaty court's October 28 ruling and will appeal the decision.

The online banner advertisement -- created for a gay club called "Studio 69" -- depicts a 19th century Kazakh composer and folk singer, Qurmanghazy Saghyrbaiuly, kissing Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin.

The students from the Qurmanghazy Conservatory accused the company of "insulting both Kazakhs and Russians."

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The banner prompted protests in August and an apology from the firm, which said it would not display the banner on the streets of Almaty.

In September, an Almaty court found the company guilty of "advertising goods and services banned in Kazakhstan."

Homosexual relations were decriminalized in Kazakhstan in the 1990s, but intolerance towards homosexuals remains strong.

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