Gay men murdered in Mongolia

Two brutal murders of Gay men have shocked Mongolia’s small LGBT community. The Mongolia LGBT Center, based in Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital, identified the first victim  as ‘A Gay male of 40 to 50 years of age who went by the nickname ‘S’ in the community, a dentist  by profession who had a practice in Zuunkharaa town, Selenge province.’

The second victim was ‘an HIV-positive Bisexual male ‘E,’ of 40 to 45 years of age, one of the  founders of a community-based non-governmental organization working for HIV-positive people.’ According to the Mongolia LGBT Center, E’s ‘mutilated body was found on 24 or 25 March 2011: his  right hand was cut off and his body was burnt.’

‘Although it is obvious that these are hate crimes, police questioned only Gay and Bisexual males  in the city in relation to the latest murder as the Gay and Bisexual males are immediately  considered automatic suspects in such cases,’ the Center said.

The LGBT Center is Mongolia’s first human rights NGO. The Center was finally registered with the government in 2009, after a three-year struggle for  official permission to operate. The name of the organization ‘conflicts with Mongolian customs and traditions and has the  potential to set the wrong example for youth and adolescents,’ an official rejection letter  stated.

The government backed down and registered the LGBT Center only after appeals from international  human rights organizations, and the direct intervention of the Mongolian presidential advisor for  human rights and public participation policy, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba. Discrimination and human rights abuses against sexual minorities are widespread in Mongolia,  according to the Mongolian Minorities Report that was presented at the U.N. Human Rights Council’s  first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) presented November 2 last year.

‘LGBT people have been viciously targeted, beaten and raped; they’ve been kicked out of their  homes and lost their jobs. Rampant discrimination has also forced people to seek asylum to escape  constant threats to their lives,’ Robyn Garner, executive director of the LGBT Centre, said at the  UPR meeting.

While LGBT people in Mongolia have been targets for discrimination and violence in the past, there  had recently been hopeful signs that the government was interested in protecting LGBT rights. For the first time, Mongolian officials discussed LGBT issues at the November UPR meeting in  Geneva. At the meeting, seven member states offered Mongolia recommendations for passing anti- discrimination legislation to enhance legal protections for sexual minorities.

Mongolia is a large but sparsely populated country of less than 3 million people. It became independent of China in 1911, but fell under the influence of the Soviet Union in 1924.  The Communist government collapsed in 1990. LGBT rights activists blame Communist-era ideology for modern-day intolerance.

‘Our ancient Buddhist and shamanistic beliefs tolerated and accepted sexual diversity. But the  very tolerant traditions have been lost just like our mon asteries & and with time, people have forgotten,’ said LGBT Center activist Tsedendemberel.

Tsedendemberel added that most Mongolians view homosexuality largely as a Western phenomenon. One of the few Mongolian Gay men to come out in the open and actively campaign to end  discrimination against LGBT persons, Tsedendemberel said he and his family are increasingly anxious about his safety.

by Mike Andrew – SGN Staff Writer
Source – Seattle Gay News