Anti-gay police abuse rampant in KyrgyzstanAround the World, Online Only, Top Highlights Monday, February 3rd, 2014
A harrowing 65-page report made public this week by Human Rights Watch paints a terrifying picture of police corruption aimed squarely at gay men in this small, landlocked Asian nation of 5.5 million people. Entitled They Said We Deserved This: Police Violence Against Gay and Bisexual Men in Kyrgyzstan, the report details a pattern of physical, verbal and sexual abuse of gay men and an entrenched bureaucracy that systematically encourages such behavior and a lack of any sort of check and balance mechanism within the police force.
From the report:
In May 2012, 32-year-old Fathullo F. (not his real name) received a phone call from a friend who said he had arranged a date for him with another man near a local hotel. Police officers grabbed him soon after he arrived at the designated meeting location, placed handcuffs on him, and insulted him. At the police station the officers hit him in the face and in the ear to force him to write a confession about seeking to meet another man, as well as to provide them with contact information for his employer and his family. The officers threatened to initiate a criminal “sodomy” case against him—even though consensual sex between men is not a crime in Kyrgyzstan—unless he agreed to give them money and contact information for other gay men from whom they could also extort money. He described how police officers treated him in detention: The officers told me that people like me do not deserve to be on face of the earth. I asked them to let me sit down because I was tired. They said that I didn’t deserve to use their chair and spat on me. They said that I didn’t deserve to live and threatened to ruin me if I didn’t give them 10,000 soms [US$214].
To date, only two men have filed complaints with local authorities but both to no avail. While sex between consenting adults of the same gender is not against the law in Kyrgyzstan, attitudes in this rural conservative country, much like in Russia, lend themselves to the kinds of abuses outlined in the Human Rights report which makes recommendation as well. They have suggested that the authorities hold to account police officers engaged in such abuses and ensure that all victims have access to an independent and confidential complaints mechanism. They also suggested that others, in dealing with the Republic, “make LGBT rights issues an integral part of bilateral and multilateral dialogues with the Kyrgyz government. Support LGBT rights and torture prevention through relevant assistance programs, including police reform and training.”
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