Anti-LGBTQ laws in Uzbekistan fuel hostility and violence

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4/2/21

Uzbekistan’s LGBTQ+ community says it is facing increasing threats and repression after anti-LGBTQ+ protests turned violent and new laws were passed this week banning the publication of content deemed to show disrespect for society and the state. Human rights groups say that the legislation, passed on Tuesday, will prevent media or online commentators arguing for the decriminalisation of sexual conduct between men, which is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison. Uzbekistan – along with Turkmenistan – are the only post-Soviet states that prohibit sexual relations between men. Anti-LGBTQ+ violence erupted in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, last weekend after heated social media debate around calls to reform the penal code on homosexuality. Two teenagers were badly injured in the clashes. Miraziz Bazarov, a popular blogger and critic of Uzbek conservative values who actively supported LGBTQ+ rights, was also beaten by a group of masked men and hospitalised. Three days later, his house was searched by the security services and documents and a computer confiscated. Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Uzbekistan, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, say that the protests and the publication of the photos, names and addresses of LGBTQ+ people on social media, along with calls for violence, have left them fearing for their lives.

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