StatusMale illegal
Penaltyup to 2 years in prison (men only)
Gender identityNo
Discrimination protectionsNone
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex unions

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Turkmenistan face active discrimination and stigmatization.[1][2] Turkmenistan is one of the only two post-Soviet states where male homosexual activity remains criminalised, along with Uzbekistan.[3]


Homosexuality is institutionally perceived as a form of mental disorder.[1][2]

Male homosexuality is explicitly illegal and sodomy — defined as sexual intercourse between men — is punishable for a maximum term of five years under the Turkmen Legal code (Chapter 18; Section 35); prior to the 2019 amendment, the limit was two years under the 1997 code.[1][2] The investigations are grossly humiliating and involves torture by state and non-state actors, repeat prosecutions can incur a compulsory rehabilitation to psychiatric clinics.[1][2][4] The law was however enforced rarely before the ascension of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow to presidency.[1][4] The Turkmen SSR Code, first adopted in 1927 had far less detailed provisions.[5][6]

No penal provisions exist for female homosexuality, who along with transsexuals are an invisible category in Turkmen law.[2][4]

Towards anti-discrimination legislation

Turkmenistan has consistently rejected pleas to implement anti-discrimination legislation, despite being requested by multiple nations via three Universal Periodic Reviews.[2] In dialogue with various wings of the United Nations, Turkmenistan has justified the discriminatory frameworks by arguing any deviations to be a potential threat to the fabric of Turkmen traditions and society.[2][4][7]

In February 2021, the Turkmen Government noted to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights about intentions to "reconsider the reasoning of the article criminalizing consensual same-sex relations" and "study the option of introducing anti-discrimination legislation".[8]

Society and culture

No civil society exists in Turkmenistan, media is entirely owned by the state, and conducting field-surveys is very difficult.[4][5] All of these renders scarce, the availability of any surveillance data on LGBT rights and allied issues.[4][5][9]

In October 2019, a gay doctor was tortured by the state-apparatus for a long span of time, before being temporarily disappeared.[1][2] In May 2020, multiple well-known figures from the modelling industry were arrested on charges of homosexuality.[1][2] Turkmen lesbians have been granted asylum in United States of America.[10][11] Gays have been documented to have sought refuge in European Union.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mendos, Lucas Ramón; Botha, Kellyn; Lelis, Rafael Carrano; Peña, Enrique López de la; Savelev, Ilia; Tan, Daron (2020). "State-Sponsored Homophobia: Global Legislation Overview Update" (PDF). Geneva: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Estonian Network of People Living with HIV (2020). "NGO Submission In Connection with Turkmenistan's Mid-Term Reporting On the Implementation of the 2018 UPR Recommendations (Third Cycle)" (PDF). Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  3. ^ Mole, Richard C. M. (2018). "Introduction to "Soviet and Post-Soviet Sexualities"". Slavic Review. 77 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1017/slr.2018.7. ISSN 0037-6779.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM) (2019). "Legislative analysis related to LGBT rights and HIV in Turkmenistan" (PDF). Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Latypov, Alisher; Rhodes, Tim; Reynolds, Lucy (19 March 2013). "Prohibition, stigma and violence against men who have sex with men: effects on HIV in Central Asia". Central Asian Survey. doi:10.1080/02634937.2013.768059. ISSN 0263-4937.
  6. ^ Healey, Dan (15 July 2001). Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-32234-6.
  7. ^ Liczek, Irina (2005). "Cultural Parameters of Gender Policymaking in Contemporary Turkmenistan". Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 25 (3): 567–583. ISSN 1548-226X.
  8. ^ "Decriminalisation: Turkmenistan has announced plans to decriminalise same-sex relations". Rainbow Digest. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. 305. February 2021.
  9. ^ Musazov, Farkhad (2019). "Life of LGBT Persons in Turkmenistan" (PDF). Bishkek: Kyrgyz Indigo Public Union. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  10. ^ "Turkmen Lesbian Granted Asylum". Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Goldberg Kohn Attorneys Secure Asylum for Lesbian Couple from Turkmenistan". Retrieved 11 May 2021.