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

They were reportedly detained by anticorruption officers at the end of last week while taking 3,000 somoni from the gay man.  

Faromarz Rahmonzoda, a spokesman for the Agency for State Financial Control and Combating Corruption, says Major Shoramazon Boronov, Captain Oyatullo Saifiddinov, Captain Narzullo Aslamzoda and a certain civilian Dilovar Mirzoyev had been detained while the money from the man.  

The man had on a previous occasion been forced to give 2,000 somoni to those police officers to buy their silence regarding his sexual orientation and they then demanded another 3,000 somoni, Rahmonzoda said.   

The police officer were reportedly charged with extortion and abuse of office.

Recall, the Tajik authorities in October last year drew up a register of hundreds of allegedly gay citizens and indicated they would be subject to mandatory testing for sexually transmitted infections.

An article published in the Qonuniyat (Law) magazine, the mouthpiece of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, in October last year, said the list of 319 gay men and 49 lesbian women was compiled after it conducted research into the LGBT community.  

AFP cited a police source as saying, “Strict medical records were needed for members of the gay community because such people have a high risk of contracting sexually-transmitted infections through infectious diseases.”  The source also noted that sexual minorities should behave so as not provoke conflict.  Conflicts with sexual minorities can lead tragedy because of society intolerance to gays and lesbians. 

The homosexual theme is taboo in Tajik society and representatives of sexual minorities attempt to conceal their sexual-minority identities, since, according to them, they face hostility. 

A report, released by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) several years ago, says there are about 30,000 gays in Tajikistan.  However, the Interior Ministry denies this report as unfounded. 

Unlike in neighboring Uzbekistan, where “sodomy” is illegal, homosexuality is not banned in Tajikistan although sexual minorities still face firmly entrenched social taboos.  Tajikistan decriminalized homosexuality in 1998, scrapping a Soviet-era law.