Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men. Conviction is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. The law does not criminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct between women.
Authorities enforced the law. Human rights defenders reported at least five cases of persons who faced prosecution during the year. They speculated this could be due to information sharing between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice that was ostensibly intended to enable the Ministry of Justice to monitor HIV+ individuals to prevent the spread of disease. Human rights defenders believed authorities used this information to identify, charge, and prosecute gay HIV+ men.
On April 12, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that 49 men convicted of performing same-sex sexual acts were serving prison sentences and being subjected to “conversion therapy” or psychological treatment of the “disorder of homosexuality” in order to “eliminate repeat crimes and offenses.”
Society generally considered same-sex sexual conduct a taboo subject. There were no known LGBTQI+ organizations. Deeply negative social attitudes related to sexual orientation and gender identity limited the freedom of expression of the LGBTQI+ community and led to discrimination. The law does not prohibit discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons in housing, employment, nationality laws, and access to government services, such as health care.
Following the country’s Universal Periodic Review in 2018, the government rejected recommendations related to decriminalization of LGBTQI+ status and called LGBTQI+ matters “irrelevant to Uzbek society.” In 2020 the Uzbek delegation to the UN General Assembly voted for a Saudi-sponsored amendment to the Extrajudicial Killings Resolution stripping LGBTQI+ individuals of legal protections against extrajudicial killings.
According to human rights NGOs, authorities conducted compulsory rectal exams on persons suspected of same-sex sexual conduct. The Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity and the International Partnership for Human Rights documented at least four cases between 2017 and 2020 in which men were subjected to forced anal exams. On August 5, international rights groups urged the president to immediately order officials to abandon such evidentiary procedures. During the year Human Rights Watch reported a case in which physicians subjected two men to forced anal exams, which served as evidence in their conviction; the men were serving two-year prison sentences at year’s end.
Human rights defenders alleged that security services used LGBTQI+ informants to entrap and blackmail men suspected of being gay. They alleged security services routinely told arrested LGBTQI+ persons they would serve prison time if they did not agree to serve as informants on other LGBTQI+ persons.
In November 2020 media reported that authorities arrested a senior Supreme Court staff member on charges of same-sex sexual conduct. The staff member was reportedly being extorted by a sexual partner for 46 million soums ($17,000) to keep the relationship secret. The partner leaked videos he had filmed of the two having sex.
Media reported that on March 28, in downtown Tashkent a group of approximately 100 men violently protested against LGBTQI+ persons, yelling “Allah (God) is the greatest,” beating random pedestrians and damaging cars. The group gathered in reaction to online posts by pro-LGBTQI+ blogger Miraziz Bazarov. Unknown assailants later severely beat Bazarov who was hospitalized for one month. Police detained approximately 70 persons, 31 of whom were charged with hooliganism and various other offenses but not for assault. Human rights activists reported that in the wake of the attack, members of the LGBTQI+ community in Tashkent were being harassed by both local authorities and private citizens and were on “red alert,” and were seeking to avoid going out in public.
Regarding the March 28 violent protest, on March 30, Chair of the Public Fund for the Support and Development of Mass Media Komil Allomjonov chastised foreign organizations promoting LGBTQI+ rights, “before making any demands to Uzbekistan or any other country, foreign organizations must take into account the mentality, religion, culture, and traditions of the nation. In our country, where the majority are Muslims, society does not accept gay men and women.” Allomjonov stated the government could do little to protect LGBTQI+ individuals because, “even if laws against gay people are relaxed, society will not accept it, and they will only remain on paper (if) such groups begin to freely show themselves on the street, the number of lynchings will increase significantly (and) small riots will lead to big problems.”