Tajikistan: LGBT Community Stuck in the Shadows | EurasiaNet.org

Posted: March 19, 2012 in History, Human Rights, International, Journalism, Politics
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Like many 28-year-olds in Tajikistan, Parviz is married. He and his wife have three children that they adore. But Parviz has a secret he can’t even share with his closest loved ones.

“I got married at age 20 because my family put a lot of pressure on me,” he told EurasiaNet.org, sitting far from prying ears in a quiet corner of Dushanbe’s Botanical Garden. “Soon after, I went to Russia to work at a market in Yekaterinburg. It was there that I first realized that I liked men and I began to go to gay bars and parks where men met.” Tajikistan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT) remains one of the most closed and secretive parts of Tajik society.

“Homosexuality is contrary to nature,” said an official from the Ministry of Health, who spoke to EurasiaNet.org on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak to the press.

“Although it [homosexuality] has been removed from the [government’s] list of treatable illnesses, many doctors still see it as a disease which can be treated with medicine. I have heard reports of the use of aversion therapy, psychiatric treatment and the use of testosterone-boosting drugs.”

Parviz doesn’t believe anything is wrong with him, but he knows to keep his secret from his relatives and friends. “I cannot tell my family. I’m scared they would not accept me for being who I am and I would bring shame on them,” he said.

Whereas in the Soviet Union homosexuality was punishable by up to five years in prison, in Tajikistan it was de-criminalized in 1998. Though Tajikistan’s criminal code does not prohibit homosexuality and homosexual relationships, LGBT individuals are still singled out for persecution by some officials. A 2011 report on sexual rights in Tajikistan co-written by a coalition of international LGBT rights groups, highlighted widespread police harassment. Thepaper lists regular cases of blackmail, arbitrary arrest and physical violence against LGBT individuals, mostly gay men.

via Tajikistan: LGBT Community Stuck in the Shadows | EurasiaNet.org.

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