Prosecutors in Tajikistan say authorities have drawn up a registry of more than 300 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Central Asian state, a move purportedly aimed at protecting sexual minorities and halting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
An article in an official journal published this month by the Tajik Prosecutor-General's Office said that that a total of 319 gay men and 48 lesbians had been included in the registry, adding that their "affiliation with sexual minorities has been proven."
The journal said the individuals were identified in operations called "Morality" and "Purge" carried out by federal prosecutors and the Interior Ministry in the nation of 8.7 million.
Tajikistan decriminalized homosexuality in 1998, scrapping a Soviet-era law, but sexual minorities still face firmly entrenched social taboos.
Rights groups say LGBT people face discrimination and persecution across the Muslim-majority former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
The journal article said that the individuals were included on the list "due to their vulnerability in society and for their safety and to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases."
The Tajik Interior Ministry declined to comment on the article when contacted by RFE/RL.
The state of LGBT rights in the former Soviet Union has triggered mounting concerns among global rights groups and Western governments in recent years.
UN experts last week urged Azerbaijani authorities to investigate reports of human rights abuses against gay and transgender people that included arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment, torture, and forced medical examinations while in detention.
Meanwhile, an alleged campaign of violence and torture against gay men in Russia’s southern Chechnya region has drawn international condemnation and prompted European leaders to press Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter.
With reporting by AFP