A detailed report accusing Kyrgyzstan’s police of systematically abusing and extorting money from gay men appears to have provoked a backlash against the country’s LGBT community. In recent weeks, a series of protests that have parroted the anti-gay rhetoric coming out of Moscow – a moral compass for many people in the former Soviet Union – have highlighted a growing trend of intolerance and the challenges facing human rights activists in Kyrgyzstan.
The January 29 report by Human Rights Watch found Kyrgyzstan’s police were subjecting gay and bisexual men to “physical, sexual, and psychological violence; arbitrary detention; and extortion under the threat of violence, or of exposing victims’ sexual orientation to friends and family.” On occasion the abuse “rose to the level of torture,” the report noted. HRW urged Bishkek to “acknowledge the scope and gravity of the problem […] and commit to taking all necessary steps to end these abuses.”
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist. David Trilling contributed reporting for this article.