Officials in the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan have drawn up a register of over allegedly 300 LGBT citizens, sparking concern among human rights activists that the government may carry out a "gay purge".
The 367 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people named on the list would be subject to mandatory tests for sexually transmitted diseases, authorities suggested.
Details of the controversial move were revealed in Zakonnost, a newspaper published by the state prosecutor. The article said that 319 gay men and 48 lesbians were identified by federal prosecutors as part of two operations called "Purge" and "Morality."
It said that they had been added to the list due to "their vulnerability in society and for their safety and to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases."
Tajikistan decriminalised homosexuality in 1998, abolishing a Soviet-era law, but LGBT people continue to face discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation.
Human rights activists have expressed concern that the register reveals the stigma LGBT people face in Tajikistan on a daily basis.
Boris Dittrich, advocacy director LGBT rights at Human Rights Watch, told Radio Free Europe that the registry highlighted "a trend going on in which authorities in former Soviet republics are targeting [gay people]".
"Homophobic state policies are spreading," he said. "It's a very scary situation when a government starts to register [gay people] — putting them on a list and then, usually, forcing them to undergo some kind of medical testing."
Firuz, a 30-year-old gay man living in the Tajikistani capital of Dushanbe, told the radio station that the government frequently carries out raids at nightclubs and restaurants in their search for LGBT people.
"They are trying to catch homosexuals and force them to take medical examinations in which they must give blood for HIV tests," he said.
"We are in this situation because the government of Tajikistan consists of radical secularists who have their own culture," he said. "They answer only to themselves."
In 2014, the country's most senior Muslim cleric described same-sex relationships as "calamitous" during a sermon. Amnesty International wrote in its annual report that year that a campaign of harassment and violence had been launched against LGBT people in Tajikistan.