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Gay men marrying women in Central Asia to hide their sexuality

In a report for HomoLAB, gay and lesbian people in Central Asia speak about their lives and gay rights in their repressive countries
Kyrgyzstan has progressive gay rights laws compared to its neighbors Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan where being gay is illegal.

Gay men are marrying women in central Asia to hide their sexuality, according to a new report for HomoLAB.

A 23-year-old gay man from Uzbekistan, who wished to remain anonymous, has spoken out about gay life in the capital Tashkent where being gay is illegal.

He says he is openly gay, has gay friends and goes to gay clubs.

‘My mom probably knows because most times she has seen huge muscle guys on my desktop. She asks and I say, “I want to be the same as them”.

‘Of course she knows, I’m not scared that she will know, I’m not really scared of the law as well, I just ignore it.’

Ex-soviet legislation stills applies in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, where sex between two people of the same gender is punishable by up to three years in jail.

In the frank interview, the young gay man also says gay men in Uzbekistan marry women to keep up the pretence that they are straight.

He said: ‘They have kids and a family but at the same time the wife knows about the husband being gay. But if he provides for them with enough money and a good living, so she will just keep silent.’

The report also hears from LBGT charity Labrys in Kyrgyzstan, one of the most progressive countries in Central Asia, having legalised homosexuality in 1998.

They said one of the biggest problems facing the gay community was their sense of worth.

'You can’t really convince a gay or lesbian person to look after their health or safety unless they are proud of who they are. It’s a huge problem because people they’re normal,' a spokeswoman said.

To hear more from the report and listen to the full version of HomoLAB click here.

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