Kazakhstan: An advertisement for a gay club showing a Kazakh composer kissing one of the greatest Russian poets has won an international award but has sparked outrage for what many consider is a national insult.
The ad created by Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan for the “Studio 69” gay bar and club in Almaty shows an image of great Kazakh composer Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly and one of the greatest Russian poets Alexander Pushkin kissing.
The bar is gay bar and club located at the intersection of Kurmangazy and Pushkin streets in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.
Someone going by the nickname of Almaz Applez on Facebook published a photo of a complaint that he filed to the Prosecutor’s Office saying that the poster was “insulting the dignity of the (Kazakh) nation,” according to en.tengrinews.kz.
“Things have been put in motion. The Regional Department of Internal Affairs has accepted the complaint. There was a prosecution officer there who said that this outrageous case had generated a huge public resonance, and the authorities monitoring the Internet would not miss it,” he said.
Minister of Culture and Sport of Kazakhstan Arystanbek Mukhamediuly described the poster as a crime and said his ministry would take measures against those responsible for it, according to en.tengrinews.kz.
Reports say the order for the ad was placed with the advertising agency by the LGBT community of Kazakhstan and presented at Red Jolbors Fest, a competition organized by advertising professionals from Kyrgyzstan for Central Asian advertising agencies where it won third place in the Outdoor Advertising category.
Many on social networks have since threatened the advertising agency with a law suit and called for a closure of the gay club.
However, there were softer comments as well. Some even liked the poster and spotted “at least some creativity in the barren steppes of domestic oeuvre.”
“This work can make one proud. First of all because it works – people get the message and remember the address. Secondly, it is a bold work, and in the case of the gay movement, traditionally living on the edge, it is more than accurate and justified,” said copywriter Valery Volodin, one of the creators of the poster, according to en.tengrinews.kz.
The poster is similar to the clothing brand Benetton’s fake kissing ad showing computer-generated photos of famous world leaders kissing. The ads called “Unhate” included Barack Obama kissing Hu Jintao and Pope Benedict XVI kissing Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, head of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo.
Same-sex relations were decriminalized in the 1990s in Kazakhstan, a Muslim-majority country.