Showing posts with label Uzbekistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Uzbekistan. Show all posts

March 26, 2020

Hope Fades For End of LGBTQ Violence in Uzbekistan

        Image result for Uzbekistan

Uzbek activists say that police often blackmail victims and rarely investigate crimes even when videos are posted online. Uzbekistan is not ready to accept people that don’t fit with mainstream notions of gender and sexuality, LGBTI activist Luiza Atabaeva said :

“The economic situation of society doesn’t allow us to think of sexual freedom. Who cares about discrimination against LGBTI in Uzbekistan when people cannot meet their basic needs?”

Activists hoped for reform when Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed the presidency in 2016, but routine anti-LGBTI violence and discrimination continue.

The previous head of state, Islam Karimov, who ruled the country for 27 years, did not address the issue of LGBTI rights. In a rare comment on this issue before his death in 2016, he said that such sexual minorities “had some deviation in their heads”.

When Mirziyoyev came to power, international rights organisations including HRW as well as diaspora LGBTI groups called on him to address discrimination against the community. So far, he has also made no public statements on LGBTI rights.

 Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. (Map courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin)
Observers say that not only does violence against LGBT people often meet with public approval in Uzbekistan, but local human rights activists show little solidarity with those discriminated against for their sexual orientation.

Following the collapse of the USSR, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were the only Central Asian states not to decriminalise homosexuality.

Although the constitution of Uzbekistan mandates that the government must “create a humane democratic law-governed state that seeks to provide a decent life to all the citizens of the republic,” LGBTI people remain isolated and discriminated against.

In their 2019 index, a gay travel website Spartacus ranked Uzbekistan 159 out of 197 countries for their level of tolerance towards sexual minorities. Acts of violence are not only rarely investigated, but often meet with public approval.

In September 2019, 25-year-old Shokir Shavkatov was murdered by unknown assailants in Tashkent after he came out as gay on his Instagram account.

A local gay man said that the LGBTI community had been shocked not only by the murder, but the public reaction. He described numerous comments on social approving the actions of the perpetrators and calling for other LGBTI people to be killed.

IWPR asked the prosecutor general’s office and the ombudsman for human rights for a comment on the Shavkatov murder. Neither of them responded.

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee received an official reply from Uzbekistan regarding its criticism of the treatment of LGBTI people, denying any discrimination and noting that they had no record of any formal complaint about discrimination or abuse from LGBTI people.

“The attitude to LGBT people in Uzbekistan is similar to the situation in Chechnya, where the head of the country, Ramzan Kadyrov, says that there are no gays in Chechnya in response to all the claims of human rights activists about the murders of gays,” said a Tashkent-based lawyer who asked to remain anonymous.

He told IWPR that LGBTI people rarely sought help from human rights activists, who he said tended to be conservative, middle aged people who viewed homosexual relations as unacceptable. There are no dedicated LGBTI rights organisations inside Uzbekistan.

“Uzbek society has a negative attitude towards gays. Therefore, we have to live a double life,” said another gay man who asked to remain anonymous. “Some get married for show, even have kids.”

He explained that gay men were frequent targets of intimidation and extortion but knew that they could expect no help from the authorities if they made a formal complaint.

“Law enforcement officers blackmail the victims and extort money,” he continued. “Otherwise, they threaten to open a criminal case or tell the truth to the family. So, gays don’t complain about the police if they face blackmail and extortion.”

It was not unknown for police officers to pose as gay men on dating websites in oreder to lure victims into a meeting.

“Then they blackmail, threaten to disclose their identities in public. Sometimes, they don’t stop at extortion. They beat and humiliate the young people,” said Abbosali Abbosov, a LGBTI activist from Samarkand, now living in the United States.

Yelena Urlaeva, chair of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, also said that public sympathy was with perpetrators of violence against LGBTI people rather than the victims of abuse.

This article is based on coverage in UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes news briefs and the IWPR Web site. For more information, read the full IWPR article “Uzbekistan: LGBT Rights Neglected.”

The London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting seeks to foster peace and reconciliation in conflict zones around the world by strengthening the ability of media and civil society to speak out.

76 Crimes

September 17, 2019

25 Yr Old Gay Man's Body Found in An Apartment Days After Coming Out in Uzbekistan


 Shokir Shavkatov's body was found in an apartment in Tashkent just days after he "came out" on Instagram.

The brutal killing of a 25-year-old gay man in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, last week has raised concerns within the local lesbian and gay community, which has been largely ostracized in the predominantly Muslim Central Asian country.
The body of Shokir Shavkatov was found in an apartment in Tashkent on September 12, just days after he "came out" as gay in an Instagram post. 
Police say he suffered "several" knife wounds on his "neck and arms," and an officer said his throat had been cut so deeply he was nearly decapitated.
A 28-year-old suspect is in custody and is being charged with premeditated murder.
While police say a probe is underway to determine a possible motive for the killing, local activists say the attack was an act of hatred toward sexual minorities. "This barbaric killing shows obvious signs of homophobia," one local activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service. 
"We are extremely concerned…and demand the government protect sexual minorities," said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns.
Conflicting Accounts
There are conflicting accounts regarding the circumstances of Shavkatov's killing. One of his friends claimed that shortly before the attack, Shavkatov was seen in a Tashkent nightclub popular with members of the gay community. 
The friend, who gave only a first name, Aziz, told RFE/RL that two unknown men in their 40s carried Shavkatov away after accosting him.
It remains unclear whether Shavkatov was forcibly taken away or went on his own accord. Hours later, his body was found in an apartment in Tashkent's Yunusobod district. 
"The two men who took away Shokir Shavkatov from the nightclub introduced themselves as morals police," said the Tashkent-based activist, confirming Aziz's version of events.
The activist said the police had raided the same nightclub on September 10 -- a day before the attack -- and took away some 10 homosexuals.
The authorities denied the claim and urged the media not to spread baseless rumors that could mislead people and discredit the police. 
Police say Shavkatov was killed by a man whom he met on the main Russian social-media site, VKontakte. They identified the attacker as Odiljon, a "temporarily unemployed" resident of Tashkent's Olmazor district. 
Police said in a statement that the two men met in the victim's apartment and apparently had an argument. It led to Odiljon stabbing Shavkatov "several times" in his neck and arms, the statement added.
Police said the killing was reported by a neighbor, who noticed blood stains under the apartment door and called emergency services. 
The suspect was arrested with the help of the information obtained from a taxi driver, the statement said.
The statement didn't describe the severity of the wounds, but an officer told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that his head had been nearly cut off.
Crime To Be Gay
In Uzbekistan, homosexuality is a criminal offense with a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment. 
In August, a leading member of the country's various LGBT communities urged President Shavkat Mirziyoev to decriminalize homosexuality.
In a video appeal, Shohrukh Salimov asked the president to abandon the notorious Article 120 of the Criminal Code, which is called Voluntary Sexual Intercourse Between Two Male Individuals.
There was no response from the president, who has never publicly spoken about homosexuality.
Salimov, who was based in Turkey at the time, said that LGBT communities "face severe persecution" and asked Mirziyoev to protect them.
The video appeal came after police reportedly arrested two gay men under the sodomy law in Tashkent's Chilonzor district in July.
Shortly after the appeal was posted on the Internet, Uzbek police reportedly went to Salimov's family home in Tashkent and told his parents that he was wanted by the authorities.
One neighbor told RFE/RL that Salimov's parents had already been suffering "serious pressure by neighbors" because of their son's sexual orientation. "Police visits to their home became another enormous psychological pressure for the family," the neighbor said. 
Activists claim that police often blackmail gays to extort money. 
Members of the LGBT community also often face verbal and physical abuse. In 2017, five people were arrested in the eastern Ferghana Province for brutally threatening and then beating a gay man.
Police identified the attackers after they posted a video of their assault on social media.
At a meeting in Geneva in 2013, the UN Human Rights Committee called on the Uzbek government to abandon the Soviet-era sodomy law.
However, a member of the Uzbek government delegation, Abdukarim Shodiev, rejected the call, saying the law reflected Uzbekistan's culture and traditions.
Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service
  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

    RFE/RL's Radio Ozodlik is one of the only sources of reliable news and information for people in Uzbekistan. The country remains one of the most repressive in the world in terms of media freedom and human rights issues.

February 2, 2018

Trump Endangers The Life of Gay Immigrants in Uzbekistan

  There are many handsome young men with firm-fitting pants. But men do not seem to notice other men, although friends often hug and gesture-kiss in public and touch each other as a close expression of liking. These are  Khiva boys. It's easy to hide being gay as a boy since they are generally given the benefit of the doubt since adults do it too [PDA]. Not the same in the US when you have one boy kissing the other, even on the cheek they are-assume gay even if family sometimes. This is a UK -US fear of gender since in Latin America and on the East, men can express public expressions of friendship and affection without being classified as gay. The exception to Latin America more openness to PDA's might be in this hemisphere Mexico, which they are not (maybe they are too close to the US and have adopted the same homophobic attitudes). adamfoxie

“I want queer people in Uzbekistan to know there is a chance for us to live,” Akram* says while sitting on my couch. “There's a life for us. We just have to find the courage not to give in, not to commit suicide, not to be afraid.” Akram, who was granted asylum in April 2017, asserts multiple times that the only chance of survival for “queer people from Uzbekistan is to escape, to run away.”
I was pretty unsurprised to hear this, given Uzbekistan's abhorrent human rights record, and that sexual intercourse between two men is illegal and punishable by three years in prison.
But Akram did surprise me by saying, practically in the same breath, “My life is wonderful and I'm very happy. I have a boyfriend. I have wonderful friends, whom I love and respect, and I love New York. I'm in love with New York."

Akram risked everything, left his family, crossed Europe and the Atlantic to start life over again with the hope of living in a country where "all men are created equal," with the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." And it had worked. Sitting before me, beaming with pride, was the 2018 manifestation of the Queer American Dream.
President Donald Trump has made achieving this dream nearly impossible for many queer asylum seekers and refugees. The countries included in Trump’s third travel ban, which is headed to the Supreme court, can easily double as a list of the “World's Least Safe Places To Be Queer.”

Six of the eight countries have explicitly outlawed homosexuality, and LGBTQ, intersex and asexual (or LGBTQIA+) people in the remaining countries—Venezuela and North Korea—face extremely aggressive environments with no legal protections. Punishment for homosexuality ranges from one year in prison to the death penalty, and each of the eight countries has laws that restrict gender expression.

In Uzbekistan, Akram explains, gay life does not exist at all. Being queer is a “sin by religion, disgraced by society and shunned by all." At age 13, Akram bought 40 Demerol to take his own life; then one of his neighbors fortuitously offered to teach him English after school. He explains, “I opened up a new world by learning English. I knew straight away that the best thing for me would be to go to an English-speaking country if I want to live as who I am." Trump extinguished this hope for countless people with his travel ban.  
As the Trump administration enters its second year, life for LGBTQIA+ people within America has become increasingly less safe. By terminating the temporary protected status program for Salvadorans, Trump is sending countless queer people to a country “that has a pattern of systemic discrimination and violence against LGBTQIA+ people by Salvadoran law enforcement ... with a “staggering rate of impunity.” By threatening to overturn Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Trump is also gambling with the well-being of an estimated 36,000LGBTQIA+ Dreamers who face danger in their “origin” countries. A recent survey from Mexico, the top country of origin for DACA recipients, suggests that 60 percent of LGBTQIA+ people surveyed by the Mexican government knew an LGBTQIA+ person who was murdered in the past three years.
Akram and I met through Voices4, an advocacy group focused on LGBTQIA+ persecution around the world. The group operates on a core belief: Queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere. While discussing his new American friends Akram says, “They helped me to feel comfortable as a gay man, that being gay is OK, and to overcome a lot of my fears of who I really am.” With his new community’s support, Akram came out to his family in Uzbekistan, finished his degree, found a loving boyfriend, got a new job and has his sights set on accounting school.
Trump’s policies and an increase of LGBTQIA+ persecution abroad mean that queer immigrants, asylees, and refugees need more help than ever. This spring, news broke of “gay purges” taking place in Chechnya, and since then, reports of violence against LGBTQIA+ people have emerged in EgyptAzerbaijanTajikistanUkraineTanzania and Uzbekistan.
Some LGBTQIA+ people around the world live in relative peace with societal acceptance and legal protection. These communities have the power and responsibility to help queer asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants. And they can—through donations and through protest. “Those who kill with impunity in Chechnya [will] take a pause when there's visibility here [in the U.S.],” says Nina Zaretsky, a co-president of RUSA LGBT, a network for Russian-speaking LGBTQIA+ people. “[A] march may save a life."
If the queer community begins to think of itself as a single entity, a family with no borders, its power would be immeasurable. At Voices4, we like to say, “When you mess with one queer, you mess with us all.”
*Akram's name has been changed to protect his safety.
Adam Eli is a community organizer, writer, and content creator in New York City. He is the founder of Voices4, a non-violent direct action activist group committed to advancing global queer liberation. He is passionate about using social media to make the world a better place.

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