Turkmen Celebrity Arrested on Suspicion of Being Gay

G.S., a well-known Turkmen performer and presenter, was arrested in Ashgabat in the second half of March on suspicion of homosexuality.


Several sources have confirmed the report to turkmen.news.

Around a dozen other people were also arrested, including his boyfriend. Several of the detainees were released, having managed to buy their way out. The investigation into G.S. and some other young people is continuing, and their trial should take place very soon. They are all facing up to two years in prison on charges of “Sodomy” under Article 135 of the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan.

Other famous people from the Turkmen show business and fashion elite were among those initially arrested. Turkmen.news knows the full names of at least three of the detainees, including G.S., but is not publishing them on ethical grounds.

The guys have defense lawyers, but it was difficult to persuade them to take on these cases. In Turkmenistan male advocates refuse to take on “Sodomy” cases as they have little chance of success, and the lawyers also have an eye on what their colleagues might say.

Same-sex relations between consenting adults in Turkmenistan are a crime.

In October and November last year the case of Kasymberdy Garaev, a young Turkmen doctor who gave an anonymous interview to Radio Liberty’s Turkmen Service, was a high-profile example of persecution of Turkmen homosexuals. A few days after publication of his story, the young man disappeared, and Radio Liberty published a video appeal from Garaev, recorded for broadcast in the event that something should happen to him.

RFE/RL and turkmen.news later found out that the young doctor was OK and at home, but his family were not giving him Internet access. Up to December 31, Garaev regularly published New Year photographs on his Facebook page, but posted nothing more after New Year. His situation remains unknown.

The Turkmenistan authorities reject criticism from the international community over the criminalization of same-sex relationships. In March 2017 Shemshat Atajanova, head of the department for democracy and human rights at the Turkmen National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights under the President, ruled out the possibility of decriminalizing same-sex relationships. She was speaking at the UN Committee of Human Rights’ review of the second periodic report on Turkmenistan’s observance of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“This contradicts Turkmen culture and the Turkmen mindset, which is based on traditional family principles, so this kind of change to legislation is unacceptable,” she said.

During an investigation, those suspected of homosexuality are subjected to forensic medical examination including inspection of the rectum and anal area. The mere presence in someone’s contacts’ list of the telephone number of a suspected homosexual is often sufficient grounds for a police summons for questioning.