A doctor from the Republic of Turkmenistan has gone missing after he came out as gay.
In October, 24-year-old Kasymberdy Garayev, who worked as a cardiologist, talked about being gay while using a pseudonym with RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service. He did so to bring awareness about life for LGBTQ people in the Central Asian country where homosexuality can lead to 2 years in prison. In the story, he talked about how his family knew of his sexual orientation but tried to convince him to stay closeted.
But as Radio Free Europe reports, Garayev, his mother, father, and siblings have all gone missing. After the interview was published with a fake name for Garayev, the Turkmen police started searching for his true identity. They started intensely calling several people connected to the publication.
Eventually, Garayev released a video as a farewell message to the public. That video was the last time Garayev has been seen.
In the message, Garayev said:
“I really did not mean to harm you by my behavior. I am sorry! If I am gone, don’t blame me! Dad, don’t be too nervous, otherwise you will get sick. Mom…don’t worry either. Kovus, keep an eye on them all. Forgive me! Kovus, be careful, keep an eye on everyone. Kyas, be considerate and learn to think a little. Act considerately, be careful! Akja, my little sister, you haven’t seen anything yet, only tears. Forgive me too!… Akjahanjan, I hope you grow up a beautiful, prominent girl. Be a good girl! I guess I won’t see how you grow up. I am sorry! All be happy and honest. Live in a happy family, but now without me. Do not worry. I beg you again, forgive. Sorry! I kiss you all. Farewell!”
LGBTQ rights organizations are now asking the Turkmen government for Garayev’s whereabouts.