Dushanbe (Tajikistan) (AFP) - Authoritarian Tajikistan announced Tuesday it had drawn up a register of 367 allegedly gay citizens, suggesting they would be required to undergo testing to avoid "the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases."
Details of the move was unveiled in Zakonnost, a newspaper published by Tajikistan's state prosecutor which said the official list of "gay and lesbian" citizens was compiled following research into the LGBT community.
Rights activists in this Central Asian nation have in the past raised fears over discrimination faced by LGBT individuals in this conservative country that is mainly Muslim but has secular authorities.
The paper said that working groups set up last year had identified 319 gay men and 48 lesbians but no transsexuals in this former Soviet republic of 8.5 million.
It said the list was drawn up following two state "operations" last year entitled "Morality" and "Purge", without giving further details.
Zakonnost did not specify what kind of checks would be involved, but said the people had been "put on a register due to their vulnerability in society and for their safety and to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a police source told AFP that "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."
- A regional issue -
Unlike in neighbouring Uzbekistan, where "sodomy" is illegal, homosexuality is not banned in Tajikistan although it is frowned upon in this conservative society.
In 2014, Tajikistan's most senior Muslim cleric blasted homosexual relationships as "calamitous" during a sermon in the main mosque in the capital, Dushanbe.
There are growing concerns over the safety of LGBT communities across Muslim-majority regions of the former Soviet Union.
In March, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta said authorities in the Russian region of Chechnya were imprisoning and torturing gay men.
One Chechen resident publicly testified in Moscow this week about being detained and tortured because he is gay.
And last month, Amnesty International raised alarm over the apparent detentions of LGBT individuals in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan.