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Tajikistan Creates Database of Suspected Gay Citizens, Forces Them to Take HIV Tests

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky

The police identified the 367 citizens through two operations called "Purge" & "Morality."

The country of Tajikistan has compiled a list of 367 suspected gay and lesbian citizens and forced them to give blood samples to test for sexually transmitted diseases, according to a journal published by the country's Ministry of Internal Affairs. The journal goes on to say that prosecutors and police identified the 319 men and 48 women through two operations called "Purge" and "Morality," but declined to describe the methods involved or even what the purpose was for the sweeping list.

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According to an anonymous police source, though, the registry was created because "strict medical records were needed for members of the gay community because such people have a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections through infectious diseases," according to the news agency AFP.

Despite Tajikistan decriminalizing homosexuality in 1998, the country continues to mistreat the LGBTQ population. According to Steve Swerdlow, a Turkistan-based Central Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, the country has "a severe human rights record" and "is deeply homophobic."

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The database of suspected gay and lesbian citizens is a breach of privacy that's been done under the guise of public health, but as Swerdlow explained, it "represents an opportunity for police to extort money from members of the community, and non-members of the community, by outing them, the consequences which can be disastrous for these individuals."

In a country where police forces have been accused of engaging in torture, a database of suspected gay and lesbian citizens sets a dangerous precedent for violence against the community.

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Chris Thomas