LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Gay and bisexual men in Kyrgyzstan are subject to a range of abuses by police and are forced to pay money in order to avoid further violence or disclosure of their sexual orientation, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Forms of abuse of gay and bisexual men because of their perceived sexual orientation include physical, sexual and psychological violence, extortion and arbitrary detention, the report says.
"The police told me that Kyrgyzstan is not a place for me. They said that they know many people like me. They said 'You are not the first, you are not the last [gay man to be detained]", Mikhail Kudryashov told HRW.
Victims are reluctant to report these incidents to the authorities, fearing retaliation and the disclosure of their sexual orientation.
“Gay and bisexual men in Kyrgyzstan already live in fear due to widespread homophobic attitudes, and the police are making a nightmarish situation even worse,” said Anna Kirey, LGBT rights researcher at HRW.
Many of the men interviewed by HRW reported that police asked them to pay up to $1,000 if they wanted to avoid further violence, detention or disclosure of their orientation to their families, employers or others.
Disclosure by gay or bisexual men of their sexual orientation, in a country where men are largely expected to marry women and have children, may result in violence, loss of employment and ostracism.
Many people in Kyrgyzstan consider homosexuality a tragedy and a disease, according to the report.
Although consensual sex between men was decriminalized in Kyrgyzstan in 1998 and police have no legal right to detain people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gay and bisexual men are being targeted in parks, gay clubs and hotel rooms and on dating websites.
Out of 40 men interviewed by HRW, only two filed official complaints about the abuse, one of whom never received a response to the complaint. In the other case the prosecutor’s office ignored medical evidence of the victim’s injuries and refused to open a criminal investigation.