Alarm as Tajikistan starts “registering” LGBTQ people

The capital, Dushanbe

Questions have been asked as to why the Central Asian country of Tajikistan is creating a registry of LGBTQ people.

According to Radio Free Europe (RFE), prosecutors have included 319 gay men and 48 lesbians in the registry, asserting that their “affiliation with sexual minorities has been proven.”

The individuals were apparently identified by the authorities through a campaign dubbed “Morality” and “Purge”.

It remains unclear what the purpose of the registry is, but prosecutors claim the individuals have been listed “due to their vulnerability in society and for their safety and to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.”

There are fears that the registry will be used to identify and persecute members of the LGBTQ community.

One of the men on the list, Firuz, a 30-year-old gay man, believes he was included after he was detained and interrogated in 2016 following a police raid on a nightclub. He also claims to have been forced to take an HIV test.

Despite homosexuality not being illegal, Firuz said that “raids in the evening at nightclubs and restaurants and at disco clubs” are common.

He added: “They are trying to catch homosexuals and force them to take medical examinations in which they must give blood for HIV tests.”

Boris Dittrich, Advocacy Director for the LGBT Rights Programme at Human Rights Watch, told RFE that the government’s move reflects a growing intolerance against gay people in former Soviet republics.

““Homophobic state policies are spreading,” he said. “It’s a very scary situation when a government starts to register gays — putting them on a list and then, usually, forcing them to undergo some kind of medical testing.”

Last month, Ilga-Europe expressed its concerns over reports of physical violence, verbal abuse, forced medical examinations and detentions of LGBTQ people in the nearby nation of Azerbaijan.

Chechnya, another former soviet region and a semi-antonymous Russian republic, has also made headlines for its rounding up, detention and torture of gay men.

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