Anything you want - except gay rights, Uzbekistan tells U.N.
TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan plans to gradually implement hundreds of human rights recommendations from a United Nations council, it said on Wednesday, but it made a point of refusing to decriminalise homosexuality calling it irrelevant to its society. Human rights groups and bodies routinely criticised the government of the mostly Muslim Central Asian nation over human rights issues under President Islam Karimov who ran the country from 1989 until his death in 2016.
TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan plans to gradually implement hundreds of human rights recommendations from a United Nations council, it said on Wednesday, but it made a point of refusing to decriminalise homosexuality calling it irrelevant to its society.
Human rights groups and bodies routinely criticised the government of the mostly Muslim Central Asian nation over human rights issues under President Islam Karimov who ran the country from 1989 until his death in 2016.
The former Soviet republic of 32 million started re-engaging human rights bodies under the new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as it sought to establish closer ties with the West and attract badly needed foreign investment.
Mirziyoyev has overseen the release of several prominent Karimov-era political prisoners and ordered thousands of people to be stricken off a blacklist of potential exremists. In a landmark ruling, an Uzbek court this month set free a dissident journalist charged with anti-government propaganda.
But its refusal to budge on gay rights shows there are limits to the Tashkent government's willingness to accommodate Western standards.
Uzbekistan presented its third human rights report at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this month, the first one since the leadership change.
"When we went to Geneva to present the report there was not the nervousness that there used to be (before)," Deputy Justice Minister Mahmud Istamov told reporters in Tashkent on Wednesday.
"We went there keeping our heads high this time because of the changes that have occurred over the past one-and-a-half years," he added, referring to Mirziyoyev's presidency.
Another Uzbek official, director of the National Human Rights Centre Akmal Saidov, said Uzbekistan has received over 200 recommendations at the UN council meeting nearly all of which it would gradually implement.
Officials said, in particular, that Tashkent was considering joining the UN convention on torture and would reduce cotton plantations which have long attracted criticism because of the use of forced labour.
The only recommendation Uzbekistan has flatly rejected was that on LGBT rights.
"This is not on our agenda. We have not accepted this recommendation," Istamov said. "This is not a topical subject for us."
Uzbekistan and its neighbour Turkmenistan are the only ex-Soviet nations that have kept in place the Communist-era ban on male homosexual relationships, punishable by prison time.
(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
U.S. home sales fall as tight supply boosts prices | Reuters
France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.