Tajik Officers Detained For Allegedly Blackmailing Gay Man

DUSHANBE -- Three police officers in Tajikistan have been detained for allegedly blackmailing a gay man in order to extort money from him.

Officials at the Anticorruption Agency told RFE/RL on February 13 that Major Shoramazon Boronov, Captain Oyatullo Saifiddinov, and Captain Narzullo Aslamzoda had been detained several days ago while receiving 3,000 somonis ($340) from a gay man.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, had on a previous occasion been forced to give the trio 2,000 somonis ($225) to buy the officers' silence regarding his sexual orientation.

The agency says the police officers were charged with extortion and abuse of office.

In November, Tajik authorities officially registered 319 gay men and 48 lesbian women in a move purportedly aimed at protecting sexual minorities and halting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Days after that, a group defending gay rights in the country's northern region of Sughd said it had been forced to stop its operations following a series of inspections by local authorities.

Tajikistan decriminalized homosexuality in 1998, scrapping a Soviet-era law, but sexual minorities still face firmly entrenched social taboos.

Rights groups say LGBT people face discrimination and persecution across the former Soviet Union.