Tajikistan’s government forces gays to take blood test over ‘high risk of sexual infections’
The Government in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan has started forcing gays to have blood tests in order to screen them for sexually transmitted infections.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced last week that it had started compiling the list, claiming that the reasoning behind it was a higher risk of STIs in LGB people.
According to a journal by the Prosecutor-General’s Office, 367 people had been identified.
Although police and prosecutors did not give the methods they used to identify LGB people, 319 men and 48 women were listed.
They did say they used operations ‘Purge’ and ‘Morality’ to find them.
Speaking to AFP, an anonymous police source said that the government started the registry because “strict medical records were needed for members of the gay community because such people have a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections through infectious diseases.”
A Human Rights Watch researcher Steve Swerdlow confirmed that the LGB people identified on the register were forced to take blood tests.
“What we’re learning now is that this registry had been drawn up — we’re not exactly sure when — and members of the gay community have been forced to go in to take blood tests to test for HIV,” Swerdlow said.
The country decriminalised homosexuality in 1998 but Swerdlow described it as having “a severe human rights record” and as “deeply homophobic”.
He said that the latest move was a demonstration of the government’s mistreatment of LGB people.
“This is being done by the government under the pretext of public health,” Swerdlow added.
“What it really reflects is a deep homophobia and fear of the gay community. It also represents an opportunity for police to extort money from members of the community, and non-members of the community, by outing them, the consequences which can be disastrous for these individuals.”
Outright International, a group which works to protect the international LGBT+ community said that the government was using a risk of HIV infection as an excuse for anti-LGBT+ discrimination.
“Study after study makes clear that lesbians and gays experience higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and lower overall health because of discrimination, violence, shame and stigma,” said Stern.
“Now, the government is warping the truth to justify singling them out in a grotesque and dehumanizing registry.”
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Swedlow also urged the international community to condemn the registry as a threat to LGBT+ life in Tajikistan.
“In reaction to this official database, there should be a strong condemnation at the suggestion that LGBT people would be forced to submit to what could be a very humiliating experience,” Swerdlow said.
“And when the police have a record of torture, like they do in Tajikistan, it’s not a good idea to have security forces dealing with public health.”
Stern also said she hoped that the government in the country would reverse its decision to start the registry.
“The Tajik government must immediately discontinue the registry, destroy the confidential names of all those listed and commit to using public health data in the service of all its citizens,” Stern demanded.
“Every person in Tajikistan must be entitled to a private, consensual sex life regardless of their sexual orientation or health status.”