UN CAT recommends protecting LGBTI people from torture and harassment in Uzbekistan

In its Concluding observations on the 5th periodic report of Uzbekistan, the United Nations’ Committee against Torture (CAT) focused on violence against the LGBTI community in that country.

The Committee’s experts expressed concern about the persecution of LGBTI people, and noted that detention was often associated with violence and torture by law enforcement agencies. Harassment was most often accompanied by video filming, threats of outing, blackmail and extortion of bribes. Both government officials and private individuals often lure victims to fake meetings via various dating sites and social networks.

The Committee against Torture regretted the absence of legal cases aimed to protect LGBTI people from violence. Criminalization of voluntary same-sex sexual relations by the criminal legislation of Uzbekistan (Article 120 of the country’s Criminal Code) leads to particular vulnerability of LGBTI people: the latter were deprived of the opportunity to seek protection from violence because of fear of arrest and even greater prosecution.

The harmful practice of criminalizing same-sex relationships and the application of discriminatory legislation in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as well as various aspects of prosecution of GBT in Uzbekistan, were considered in an analytical report prepared by the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”.

UN CAT experts recommended that the Uzbek authorities take measures to prevent violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI): first of all, by abolishing Article 120 of the Criminal Code, protecting victims, and conducting prompt, effective and impartial investigations of cases of torture, violence and ill-treatment of LGBTI people, which had been carried out by public servants or with their tacit consent.

A few months ago, the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee (UN HRC) raised the issue of the need to adopt anti-discrimination legislation that would include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. The Committee also asked Uzbekistan about its plans to decriminalize same-sex sexual relations by mutual consent, which had been repeatedly recommended by various international institutions.