BISHKEK -- Several antigay activists in Kyrgyzstan have been charged with hooliganism after they disrupted an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community event in Bishkek.
Kyrgyz Interior Ministry officials told RFE/RL on May 19 that the Kyrgyz capital's Birinchi Mai district police department is investigating the May 17 incident.
Antigay activists reportedly raided a gathering at a Bishkek restaurant to mark International Day Against Homophobia, attacking LGBT activists and supporters.
Although police arrived in time to prevent more serious clashes between gay-rights activists and the antigay group members, the event was disrupted.
Now, the antigay activists involved in the incident may face up to five years in jail if found guilty of the hooliganism charges.
Right groups say homophobia is widespread in Kyrgyzstan, where a leader of the Kyrgyz Muslims' Spiritual Directorate issued a fatwa in 2014 against same-sex relations.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said Kyrgyz police have extorted, threatened, arbitrarily detained, beaten, and sexually abused gay and bisexual men.
Kyrgyzstan has also come under criticism for a pending bill that would criminalize "gay propaganda." The HRW has called the draft law a "blatantly discriminatory antigay 'propaganda' bill."
In March, the HRW urged Kyrgyzstan's parliament to "stay true to the principle of nondiscrimination that is enshrined in the country's constitution."
The bill was introduced to parliament in October and approved by the country's parliamentary Committee on Law, Order, and Fighting Crime in February.
It provides for criminal and administrative sanctions for the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and bans any information promoting "nontraditional sexual relations" or "homosexual relations" in a "positive" way.
The bill calls for "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to be punishable by up to one year in jail.
It says journalists found guilty of "propagating" homosexual relations will be held accountable.