Gay men are reportedly facing extreme abuse by police, including at least one instance of ‘hammer rape’, in Kyrgyzstan.
International charity Human Rights Watch is urging authorities in the Central Asian country to acknowledge the police brutality and investigate all allegations of torture, blackmail and intimidation.
‘Gay and bisexual men in Kyrgyzstan already live in fear due to widespread homophobic attitudes, and the police are making a nightmarish situation even worse,” Human Rights Watch researcher Anna Kirey said.
While gay sex was decriminalized in the former Soviet republic in 1998, Conservative attitudes are prevalent.
‘Many people perceive homosexuality as a “tragedy” and a “disease”,’ HRW said.
‘The 40 gay and bisexual men Human Rights Watch interviewed for this report all said that police are aware of their fear of disclosure of their sexual orientation and described how police officers exploit this vulnerability to target men they suspect are gay or bisexual.
‘Most, including two who were 17 years old at the time of abuse, reported having experienced some form of physical abuse, threats, extortion, or all of these abuses during one or multiple encounters with the police.’
The men interviewed reported ill treatment by police, including being punched kicked or beaten with gun butts.
Several also claimed they were victims of rape, group rape, and officers had attempted to insert a stick, hammer or electric shock device in their anus.
Mikhail Kudryashov, a 24-year-old who said he was beaten and threatened with rape in 2010, said: ‘The police told me that Kyrgyzstan is not a place for me. They said that they know many men like me.
‘They said, “You are not the first, you are not the last [gay man to be detained].” … They told me that I should stop being gay.’
In another incident in 2004, Demetra said men who identified themselves as police officers grabbed him and a friend as they left a gay club, drove them to the city limits and beat and raped them.
‘They didn’t want to listen to our pleas. They said that we are fags and deserve this, and that we don’t deserve to be on earth. After they raped us, they left us there,’ he told HRW.
Human Rights Watch has called on Kyrgyzstan’s government to ensure victims of ill-treatment received compensation and rehabilitation.
Only two of the gay and bisexual men interviewed reported their treatment to authorities. Only one case had prompted an inquiry but there was no criminal investigation.
Kyrgyzstan’s Interior Ministry have called HRW’s allegations unfounded.
Ministry spokesman Zhorobai Abdaimov told news website Kloop.kg: ‘Here everybody knows how to make unfounded claims about how their rights are violated, but let them provide the evidence.’