A report last week from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) found that homophobia is endemic in the central Asian former Soviet country of Tajikistan.
Gay rights groups and individuals told the IWPR about threats of public beatings and police harassment in Tajikistan. In relatively more liberal neighbouring Kyrgyzstan there are about a dozen gay rights organisations in the capital Bishkek, but Tajikistan only has one. The group, Equal Opportunities recently held a public event and invited several NGOs and general human rights groups, but only two people turned up.
Human Rights Watch World Report 2012’s chapter on Tajikistan does not mention LGBT rights at all, further evidence that human rights groups are overlooking gay rights in the region. The report does say that in general 'the human rights situation in Tajikistan remains poor'.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Tajikistan in 1998, but the director of Equal Opportunities, Kiromidin Gulov, told the BBC that the way the majority of the public treat LGBT people has not changed. ‘In Tajikistan, despite the abolition of the article [against homosexuality] in the criminal code, homophobia remains a very big problem. Obvious cases of discrimination are beating, rape, robbery. Gays and lesbians do not go to the police for fear of publicity and blackmail,’ he said in a BBC interview in April last year.
A joint report from Equal Opportunities and the Kyrgyzstan-based gay rights group Labrys said: ‘sexual and physical violence against gay and bisexual men perpetrated by the police... [in the respective countries] is very common,” and that many gay people flee for Russia or Kazakstan.
A 42-year-old woman in the capital Dushanbe told IWPR that she disliked gays. ‘If my child turned out like that, I would reject him,’ she said.