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Top Tajik Cleric Urges Faithful To Shun Homosexuals

DUSHANBE -- The leader of the Tajik Council of Ulemas (Islamic clerics) has called on Muslims to shun homosexuals, saying they will face "awful punishment" on Judgment Day.

Speaking at Friday Prayers in the Grand Mosque in Dushanbe on February 7,Saidmukarram Abdukodirzoda also called on all Muslims to bring up their children in the "right way" so that they avoid "sinful behavior."

Mullahs in Tajikistan's other mosques delivered similar messages on February 7 as the Tajik government's Committee for Religious Issues asked all clerics to discuss the issue of "nontraditional sexual relations" in their sermons.

Tajikistan and other former Soviet states decriminalized same-sex relations in the 1990s but societies in those nations remain largely hostile toward gays.

In Kyrgyzstan, acting Grand Mufti Maksat Hajji Toktomushev issued a fatwa against same-sex relations last month.