Turkmen Hairstylist Arrested on Suspicion of Homosexuality

Police have arrested a well-known hairdresser and stylist in Turkmenabat during a round-up of suspected homosexuals, turkmen.news has learnt from sources in Lebap region. Turkmen.news knows the young man’s personal details but is withholding them on ethical grounds.


The young man is married and has children. He was arrested around five days ago, according to the sources. The police are demanding that he reveal the names of gay men in Turkmenabat and Lebap region as a whole.

Article 135 of Turkmenistan’s Criminal Code specifies an offence of “Sodomy,” which carries a prison term. During investigations under this article of the code, suspects are subjected to a humiliating medical examination of the rectum and anal area. Often, someone has only to feature in the telephone contacts’ list of a suspected homosexual to be called in for police questioning.

In March 2020, a well-known entertainer in Ashgabat was arrested and convicted of sodomy. Around ten people were convicted of the same offence alongside him.

In October 2019, the case of a young doctor, Kasymberdy Garaev, who gave an anonymous interview to Radio Liberty, became a high-profile instance of persecution of Turkmen homosexuals. Several days after publication of his story, the young man disappeared. Radio Liberty then released a video appeal by Garaev, which he had recorded for broadcast should something happen to him. He last posted on his Facebook page on December 31, 2019. There has been no contact with him since.

Turkmenistan’s authorities dismiss 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 Human Rights Council’s 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.

In 2020 the authorities announced for the first time their intention to study the issue of decriminalizing homosexual relations. This was written in Turkmenistan’s third periodic report for the UN Human Rights Council.