LGBTI people and ethnic minorities will be protected from being subjected to hate crimes in Mongolia if a government proposal goes forward.
Homosexuality has been legal in Mongolia since 1961 but homophobic views are pervasive throughout society and LGBTI rights were only discussed in parliament for the first time in April of last year.
LGBTI people have been subjected to a number of severe violent attacks in recent years, as have ethnic minorities, as there has been an up swell in neo-Nazi inspired nationalist groups in the country.
In February this year a gay man was sexually tortured by homophobic nationalists but police initially did not accept the case as male-on-male rape is not covered in the criminal code.
The man later died but it is not known whether he was murdered or committed suicide following his ordeal - while in 2009 three transgender women were kidnapped and taken to a cemetery where they were beaten and sexually humiliated.
In 2012 Mongolia’s National Human Rights Commission found that 80% of LGBTI Mongolians had been subjected to some kind of violation of their human rights over their identity in the last three years.
Under the new proposal by Mongolia’s Justice Minister Kh Temuujin law enforcement agencies would be trained to recognize and report crimes motivated by discrimination and prejudice.
The proposal would also see greater penalties for crimes that were motivated by discrimination and also greater compensation for victims of such crimes.
An initial draft produced in January by human rights groups and justice ministry officials contained language describing ‘hate bias,’ but the latest version replaces this with more general language covering ‘discrimination.’
Some human rights advocates are concerned about how such general language would be enforced.
‘They had intended to draft hate crimes into law,’ executive director of Ulaanbaatar’s LGBT Center Anaraa Nyamdorj told Al Jazeera.
‘Instead they've codified discrimination, drafting it in such a way - so broad - that it will be very difficult to bring down to an implementation level. It means that Mongolia could very well be one of the first countries in the world to criminalize the very concept of discrimination almost entirely.’