Akmal Amindzhanov

When I realised that I was different — and that the people around me were not like me, I began to think seriously about the situation. When I understood that I was representative of “LGBT” I was interested in finding other people like me. By chance a friend of mine introduced me to the LGBT organisation Equal Opportunities. At first I was scared, but then things became easier for me, a weight lifted from my soul and my interest for them and supporting other LGBT like myself people grew. That’s how my new world began. After six months of visiting the organisation I became a volunteer and a year later a full-time member.

We work on HIV prevention in the gay and wider LBGT communities. We also work on rights defence in Tajikistan. In this country there is massive stigma and discrimination with regards to LGBT life. The main problem that LGBT people confront is illegal treatment at the hands of law enforcement agencies; for instance, blackmail and extortion on the part of the police. In Tajikistan you get “dummy” LGBT people, who collaborate with the police to locate LGBT individuals and then force them into work or study with the threat of revealing their situation to their families.

It’s very important for me to be a part of this system, to help other people like me to protect their rights, since I am one of them. I’m always particularly inspired by events like 17 May — the Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. I will keep going in order to support any member of the LGBT community who needs us.