By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Asia
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Kyrgyzstan government to protect lesbians, transgender men, and bisexual women from violence. According to HRW, lesbians, transgender men, and bisexual women face violent abuse, including rape, from family members as well as strangers on the street.
The HRW report documents beatings, forced marriages, psychological and physical abuse endured by the lesbian, transgender men, and bisexual women communities. “No one should have to confront brutality or danger because of who they are or whom they love,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at HRW.
The violence in Kyrgyzstan occurs with impunity as the government refuses to protect lesbians, transgender men, and bisexual men while allowing the atmosphere of prejudice to continue. There is a pervasive social prejudice that leaves victims little hope that the government will protect them. In some instances, the police participate in the abuse and harass organizations that attempt to protect possible victims. Dittrich stated, “It is time for the government to protect these communities instead of denying they exist.”
The government has also ignored addressing the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. In one case, an official actually endorsed hate and violence. Three years ago, a Ministry of Interior official said of lesbians and gay men at a human rights roundtable, “I would also beat them. Let’s say I walk in a park with my son. And there are two guys walking holding each other’s hands. I would beat them up too.”
Several persons interviewed by HRW recounted their past violent experiences. One lesbian told how, when she was 15, her girlfriend’s brothers raped her brutally, saying, “This is your punishment for being this way and hanging around our sister.” Another woman told of an acquaintance that locked her in a room and allowed several men to rape her. The men promised the acquaintance “that they would help her to ‘cure’ me of being a lesbian,” she said. Another woman told HRW, “One time, these men on the street thought that I was a gay man and wanted to beat me up. I didn’t know which would be better, to say I was [a gay man] or to say, no I’m a lesbian. So I ran. They chased me and I just managed to get inside [my apartment], but they beat at the door for hours.”
For more information, please see:
Human Rights Watch – Kyrgyzstan: Protect Lesbians and Transgender Men From Abuse – 6 October 2008
Human Rights Watch – These Everyday Humiliations: Violence Against Lesbians, Bisexual Women, and Transgender Men in Kyrgyzstan – October 2008
United Press International- Kyrgyzstan Faulted for Human Rights Abuse – 6 October 2008