Tajikistan has started an official registry of gay citizens who will reportedly be required to undergo mandatory STI testing to avoid “the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.”
An anonymous police source told the AFP “strict medical records” are required for members of the gay community because “such people have a high risk of contracting sexually-transmitted infections through infectious diseases.”
Homosexuality is not illegal in the majority-Muslim country, though it remains heavily stigmatized:
“Despite the abolition of the law [against homosexuality], homophobia remains a very big problem,” Kiromidin Gulov, the head of one of Tajikistan’s only LGBT rights groups, told the BBC in 2012. “Obvious cases of discrimination, beatings, rapes, robberies.”
In 2014, the nation’s most senior Muslim cleric condemned homosexual relationships as “calamitous” in a sermon in the capital city, Dushanbe.
Gulov recounted how one 20-year-old who was blackmailed about his sexuality hanged himself. “Gays and lesbians do not go to the police for fear of publicity and blackmail.”
Another man says he was raped by a group of assailants.
“They beat me, raped me and started to intimidate me so that I would not complain,” he recounted. “Who will I complain to—the police? And complicate my life even more? I have to hide my orientation from my classmates. I’m afraid of everyone and everything.”
The official roster was compiled following two state investigations last year identifying 319 gay men and 48 lesbians among the country’s 8.5 million inhabitants.
Details about the registry are scant, but human rights activists are concerned about the wellbeing of LGBT communities in Tajikistan in light of anti-gay purges in other Muslim former Soviet republics: Reports emerged earlier this year that at least 100 gay men were imprisoned and tortured in concentration camps in in Chechnya. And last month, civil rights activists reported that dozens of gay men and trans women had been arrested and tortured by authorities in Azerbaijan.