Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN) has received a video of the interrogation of a transgender woman at the Ashgabat police. Judging by the different voices in the video, at least four policemen appeared to be guessing whether she had done sex work and asking about the identity of her friends.
In the video, the transgender woman denied everything, before one of the policemen asked a colleague to kick her in the groin to check whether the person they had detained was a man or a woman. Though the tape shows no physical violence, the detained woman covers her groin with her hand. One of the policemen began threatening her, while others asked her to take off her hands. After the detainee failed to react, the policemen started threatening her.
“Look, we will take you somewhere now, and there you’ll start talking. It’d be better if you tell everything here and then we’ll let you go,” said the chief interrogator, who is also the maker of the video.
“Let’s take him to the ‘pigeons’ [gays],” said another policeman, amid the giggles that often interrupt the questioning during the video.
The officers did not hide their disdain for the detained person and hurled insulting comments during the interrogation: “Get this goddamn faggot out of here!”, “This one f*cks in the ass!”, “Look at this, motherf*cker!”
The policemen then forced the transgender woman to undress, pull her underwear and bend over. They seemingly wanted to ascertain that the person they were interrogating was a male, before pointing at the stains in her underwear.
“This one f*ucks in the ass!” one of the policemen said before the video cut.
Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Turkmenistan. Article 135 of the Criminal Code provides up to five years in prison for “sodomy.” Often, however, people suspected of homosexuality are accused of other similarly “shameful” crimes, such as sexual perversion.
During the investigation phase, suspected homosexuals undergo forensic medical examinations of the rectum and the anus. Anyone found in the phone book of a person suspected of homosexuality can be called in for questioning by the police.
In the prison system, those convicted of homosexuality are confined away from other prisoners.
During investigation and in prisons homosexuals face threats, humiliation and torture by law enforcement officers, sources who have suffered such treatment said.
Human rights organizations and the UN Committee on Human Rights have repeatedly called on the Turkmen authorities to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting people of the same sex, but officials have ruled it out.
“It is contrary to Turkmen culture and the mentality of the Turkmen people, which are based on the traditional principles of the family. Such changes of the law would be unacceptable,” said Shemshat Atajanova, head of the department for democracy and protection of human rights at the Turkmen National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.
Atajanova made this statement on March 8 in Geneva before the UN Human Rights Committee, while discussing the second periodic report on Turkmenistan’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.