Tajikistan: LGBT Registry Sparks Outrage
Authorities in Tajikistan have reportedly compiled a registry of hundreds of people in the country’s gay and lesbian community as part of a purported drive to promote moral behavior.
RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, reported on October 17 that the list drawn up by the Interior Ministry and the General Prosecutor’s Office comprises 319 gay men and 48 lesbians.
Ozodi cited law enforcement officials as claiming the registry was drawn up primarily to protect the people named on it and to monitor sections of the population perceived as being at greatest risk from sexually transmitted diseases. But rights advocacy groups are warning of the pernicious potential of such lists.
“Tajikistani authorities can dress this up any way they want, but they are fooling no one. This is not an effort to protect the LGBT community, it is the first step in a broader scheme to persecute them,” Shawn Gaylord, advocacy counsel for New York-based Human Rights First, said in a statement.
A Soviet-era statue criminalizing homosexuality was scrapped in Tajikistan in 1998, but social mores are such that gays and lesbians are often compelled to keep their sexuality secret.
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