There is a unique opportunity for Uzbekistan to decriminalise same-sex conduct
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is currently making many legal reforms in Uzbekistan, presenting a unique opportunity for the decriminalisation of same-sex conduct.
The reforms have also spread into the criminal justice system, making it possible for same-sex conduct to be legalised. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were the only Central Asian states to keep the barbaric law in place after the fall of the Soviet Union. This would bring Uzbekistan in line with International Human Rights Standards.
"However, the draft of the new Criminal Code, released for public discussion by the Uzbek Prosecutor General's Office on 22 February 2021, does not remove the provision criminalising consensual same-sex conduct between men," says ILGA Europe, who has launched a campaign on the issue. They continue: "Despite calls from international human rights bodies and civil society, the provision remains in the new version of the Code, moved from Article 120 to Article 154 without changing its substance."
However, past events do not fill us with confidence. In May 2018, Uzbekistan did not accept 11 UN recommendations on human rights that pertained to the LGBT community. Director of the National Center for Human Rights of Uzbekistan Akmal Saidov, commenting on the decision of the Uzbek authorities, said: "that the rejected recommendations run counter to Article 120 of the Criminal Code of the republic."
In October 2019, the National News Agency released the following article to their nationwide audience: "Are there signs of that ideas of “homosexuality” are being introduced?
At the end of August 2020, the head of the department of the Republican Center for Spirituality and Enlightenment, Mansur Musayev said that wearing short socks in Europe is considered a hallmark of homosexuals.
In November 2020, the State Security Service (SGB) of Uzbekistan opened a criminal case against the 44-year-old assistant to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court — under article 120 of the Criminal Code — for "sodomy".
The arresting and torturing of LGBT+ people has not slowed down in recent years. In September 2019, Shokir Shavkatov, a 25-year-old gay man was brutally murdered in Tashkent. His story shook the whole of Uzbekistan. And in March 2021, 'The New East is Queer' interviewed LGBT+ activist, Shahrukh Salimov, where he detailed his horrific abuse and story:
"During sexual intercourse with my partner in the apartment, officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs broke into our apartment with cameras in their hands, they filmed everything that was happening and was arrested under article 120 of the UKRUz (sodomy). After my arrest, I became a victim of torture, after which I developed significant psychological trauma. After the torture they announced that if I did not pay them $ 2000, they would have to put me in jail. I gave this money and left Uzbekistan, but my personal data and the video, on the basis of which I was arrested, remained with them."
Join ILGA Europe and their campaign to #REPEAL154 now!