(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Under Article 135 of the Criminal Code of 1997, male homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of two years. Since homosexuality is considered a mental disorder in the country, punishment for homosexual acts between men or perceived homosexual behaviour can also include placement in psychiatric institutions to be ‘cured‘ of their sexual preferences. The law criminalising male homosexuality is enforced selectively, and while there are reports of arrests, individuals are rarely prosecuted under this law. The Criminal Code does not mention female homosexuality.
While female homosexuality is not mentioned in the Criminal Code, a lesbian from Turkmenistan received asylum in May 2007 based on her fear of persecution from her family because of her sexual orientation and political opinions.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
Although male homosexuality is rarely prosecuted in Turkmenistan, there are reports of arrests of gay or suspected gay men in the country. Homophobia is widespread, and government officials deny that there is gay community in the country. Because sexual and gender identities that fail to conform to traditional norms are so highly stigmatized, homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals hide their sexual orientation in order to avoid discrimination; consequently, the LGBTI community in Turkmenistan is largely invisible and disunited. However, there is a growing gay subculture in the country, and a number of practices have developed whereby men can meet each other in public places such as at the bazaars and on buses. Such attempts to circumvent the stigmatisation and criminalisation of homosexuality, however, incur psychological consequences and potential physical risks for LGBTI individuals.
Medical and educational resources, many of which remain outdated, reflect prevailing homophobic attitudes in the country. Therefore, LGBTI individuals have access to very few resources for dealing with the psychological challenges and health risks of living in a society that discriminates against their sexual and gender preferences.
Abuses of the anti-gay law include blackmail and extortion by law enforcement officials. Men who are arrested for being or suspected of being gay are reportedly also asked to ‘denounce‘ other gay individuals. For instance, one man who was imprisoned for being identified by another gay man was force to pay a fine that amounted to approximately ten times Turkmenistan’s average monthly wage in order to avoid prolonged imprisonment.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
We do not currently list an organisation supporting LGBTI persons in Turkmenistan, but we welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We do not currently list a specialist in LGBTI issues in Turkmenistan, but we welcome suggestions.
Researched by Christina Kovacs