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HRW Says Kyrgyz Police Abuse Gay Men

A gay-rights demonstration in Kyrgyzstan (undated)
A gay-rights demonstration in Kyrgyzstan (undated)
A new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) concludes that police in Kyrgyzstan have extorted, threatened, arbitrarily detained, beaten, and sexually abused gay and bisexual men.

The 65-page report is based on interviews with 40 gay and bisexual men in four regions of Kyrgyzstan.

It includes cases of severe physical violence against gay and bisexual men, including punching, kicking, and beating with gun butts, batons, empty beer bottles, or other objects.

Several gay men also reported sexual violence by police officers, including rape, group rape, and attempts to insert a stick, a hammer, or an electric shock device into their rectums, as well as gratuitous touching during a search or being forced to undress in front of police.

Anna Kirey, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at HRW, said that "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."

"The state has to publicly accept that it is taking place and must condemn on the highest level those kinds of crimes," she told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

HRW is asking the Kyrgyz government to thoroughly investigate the reports.

It also wants Kyrgyzstan to establish a confidential complaint mechanism.

HRW said only two of the 40 men interviewed had filed complaints. Neither case led to anyone being held accountable.

However, Kyrgyz Interior Ministry spokesman Jorobai Abdraimov cast doubt on the accuracy of the HRW report.

"We do not know how much of the report by the international rights organization is true and how much is not," Abdraimov said. "If they really have facts saying that [homosexuals] had been beaten or tortured, then let them come to us and show us those facts. We will launch internal investigations into such facts. Or let other state bodies lead the investigations. Those kinds of complaints are thoroughly investigated."

Society in Kyrgyzstan, as in many other former Soviet republics where same-sex relations were decriminalized in the 1990s, remains generally hostile toward homosexuality.

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