US Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks this week show that the President of Uzbekistan claimed his country would not back “Western style” democracy as it was associated with homosexuality.
Islam Karimov is the first president and effective dictator of Uzbekistan, having ruled since 1989 through a series of elections which were dubbed “neither free nor fair” by the United States.
On Monday, Wikileaks published a US Diplomatic cable describing a meeting in 2006 between Mr Karimov and the South Korean President Roh Myu-Hyun, summarised by the then US ambassador John Purnell.
The two men met to sign the ‘Declaration on Strategic Partnership’, in which both leaders agreed to promote democracy and human rights,
However, Mr Karimov clarified that “Western-style” democracy was not appropriate for Uzbekistan, claiming the country’s 85% Muslim population would not accept it. Instead, he said the government would have to implement democracy “specific to its culture”.
Mr Karimov then claimed that homosexuality is “disgusting” to Uzbeks, and that therefore Western democracy would violate Uzbekistan’s “moral purity”, “presumably because it allows for or fosters the practice of homosexuality,” writes Mr Purnell.
Mr Purnell adds: “Karimov’s comments on democracy are interesting, as they may indicate a policy shift…His comments about the alleged immorality of Western democracy could indicate that the GOU [government of Uzbekistan] is ready to dispel the myth that it is even interested in democracy.”
In Uzbekistan consensual sex between two men is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.