This week, a government journal in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan announced that the country's interior ministry had compiled a registry of “proven” gays and lesbians. The list named 319 men and 48 women, whom Tajik federal prosecutors identified in operations they called “Morality” and “Purge.”
A purge — likely in the form of mass incarcerations — is exactly what human rights organizations are afraid will happen. But the phenomenon would not be unique to Tajikistan: Over the past few months, police in Egypt, Azerbaijan, Tanzania, Indonesia and the Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up people suspected of being gay — and in many cases tortured or publicly humiliated them.
What's more, many of the crackdowns look like “copycats” of one another. “There are a lot of ways in which these crackdowns follow the same sequence of events,” said Kyle Knight, a researcher on LGBT rights at Human Rights Watch. “And there's reason to believe that what's happening in Tajikistan now is based on things their government there has learned from, say, what Azerbaijan just did.”
The sequence generally starts with someone — most likely a religious figure or government official — publicly denigrating acts of alleged sexual deviance. In countries where homosexuality is taboo and driven underground, such comments may be the first thing a person has heard in public about LGBT people.[...]
In each of these countries, LGBT people are facing the wrenching decision of cutting ties with their communities, living clandestine lives of constant fear or trying to claim asylum abroad. And Knight, of Human Rights Watch, said conditions are ripe for similar crackdowns in countries all over the world, pointing to Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova as examples.
But he also said he found an unlikely source of hope in the global response to some of these crackdowns, particularly the widespread condemnation of Chechnya.
“International outcry works,” said Knight. “Neither Putin nor Kadyrov has much tolerance for gay people, but after all the outcry, they had a meeting where they publicly addressed the issue. That they even brought it up was a huge deal. Read more via Washington Post