UN committees concerned with protection of women and LGBT persons from discrimination in Uzbekistan

At its 128th session, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) recommended to supplement the laws of Uzbekistan with legal norms for protection against direct, indirect and multiple discrimination in both public and private spheres, on all grounds, including race, political and other views, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), as well as guaranteeing effective remedies for victims of discrimination.

UN HRC regretted the continued discrimination, harassment and violence against LGBT people by government officials and citizens in Uzbekistan. At the same time, a high level of impunity for the committed crimes continues to exist there. Earlier, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) drew attention to the numerous threats, violence and blackmail of LGBT people by police officers. Members of LGBT community regularly experience extortion, arbitrary detentions, torture and sexual abuse, imprisonment and disclosure of confidential medical information. However, they are afraid to complain about these crimes because of the risks of prosecution, which leads to the criminalization of same-sex voluntary relations between adult men. Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” has described this difficult situation of men having same-sex relations in its analytical paper “Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: criminal prosecution for consensual same-sex relationships between men”.

UN HRC recommended combating stigma, harassment, hate speech, discrimination and violence based on SOGI, as well as conducting special training for law enforcement and judicial officials and raising public awareness through campaigns on SOGI, diversity and tolerance. The Committee also recommended to prosecute those responsible for systematic discrimination and violence against LGBT people and guarantee compensation to victims, to abolish Article 120 of Uzbekistan’s Criminal Code, which criminalized same-sex adult male relations, to introduce fast, transparent and accessible sex recognition procedure based on the applicants’ self-identification and not requiring mandatory psychiatric hospitalization.

The Committee made a number of recommendations to combat discrimination against women. In order to improve protection of women from violence, the Committee recommended monitoring compliance with the prohibition of early and forced marriages, eliminating polygamy, criminalizing marital rape, eliminating the procedure for compulsory reconciliation in cases involving domestic violence, ensuring effective investigation of victims’ complaints, prosecuting rapists, training law enforcement officers and the judiciary, providing shelters and effective remedies to victims, as well as carrying out information work with the population concerning violence against women.

The same problems were raised by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural human rights (CESCR) during its 66th precession. The Committee requested to provide information on whether the Uzbek authorities intended to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and what particular measures have been adopted to combat discrimination against marginalized groups, including Roma, Lyuli and LGBTI people (in particular, inquiries were made about decriminalization of Article 120 of the Criminal Code).

Paying special attention to the situation of women, experts of UN CESCR posed questions about implementation of laws on gender equality, overcoming discrimination against women in registration of property rights, professional segregation of women, lower wages and lack of women’s representation in senior positions. UN CESCR inquired about measures aimed at increasing the number of girls enrolled in higher education institutions and incorporation of materials on gender equality into educational programs. A separate inquiry was made concerning measures to ensure access to education and successful graduation for representatives of vulnerable groups, including Roma and Mugat (Lyuli).

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