Two Suspects Detained In Connection With Uzbek Gay Murder

Police in the Uzbek capital Tashkent say they have detained two men in connection with the brutal murder of a young gay man in the country where homosexuality is officially considered a crime.

A representative of the police department in Tashkent's Yunusobod district told RFE/RL on September 13 that two suspects were charged with the murder of 25-year-old Shokir Shavkatov, whose body was found a day earlier.

The officer, who asked that his name was not mentioned as he was not authorized to give out information on an ongoing investigation, told RFE/RL that Shavkatov was found with two stab wounds in his body and his throat cut so deeply that he was almost decapitated.

Shavkatov had said that he was gay on Instagram.

His mother told RFE/RL that authorities refused to release her son's body for burial, which, according to Islamic traditions, must be buried before sunset after the death.

Shavkatov’s friend, who only gave his first name, Aziz, told RFE/RL that Shavkatov was in a nightclub on September 12. He left the club late at night with two men, Aziz said, and went to an apartment in Tashkent where he most likely was attacked and eventually killed.

It is not clear at this point if the murder was a hate crime, but a gay resident of Tashkent told RFE/RL that he believed it was.

"Just two days ago, police raided the same nightclub and took some 10 gays with them. The two men who took away Shokir Shavkatov last night from that nightclub introduced themselves as ethics police," the man said, adding that Shavkatov's killing shocked and frightened all of the capital's LGBT community.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are the only former Soviet republics where gay relations have not been decriminalized since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In Russia, as in most former Soviet republics, homosexuality was decriminalized in the 1990s, though it remains illegal to promote homosexuality among minors.