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Uzbek authorities
accuse U.S.–based aid group of "supporting gay

Uzbek authorities
accuse U.S.–based aid group of "supporting gay

lifestyle" " >

Uzbek authorities accused a U.S.-based health care aid group on Wednesday of breaking the law and supporting the "interests of homosexuals" in the tightly controlled ex-Soviet republic, where homosexuality is outlawed.

The medical nonprofit Population Services International, or PSI, failed to submit required legal paperwork from its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and did not register its office rental contract, the Justice Ministry said in a statement posted on the Internet.

"PSI is especially famous for its projects universally asserting interests of persons with unorthodox sexual orientation," the statement said, adding that homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in prison in Uzbekistan.

The ministry said it had given PSI 30 days to correct the alleged violations, a requirement that the government has voiced before shutting down other foreign-based NGOs in the past.

The statement also alleged that PSI, founded in 1970, was created by U.S. entrepreneur Philip Harvey to promote the use of contraceptives produced by his sex products company, Adam & Eve.

The PSI director in Uzbekistan, Robert Gray, said the organization would not comment.

According to PSI's Web site, the group has operations in more than 60 developing countries, with programs focused on malaria, reproductive health, child survival, and HIV. In Uzbekistan, it runs a project aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Uzbekistan and neighboring Turkmenistan are the only former Soviet republics where antigay legislation dating back to the rule of dictator Josef Stalin is still enforced.

Human rights advocates say Uzbek gays are harassed by law enforcement officers who tap phones and use dating Web sites to identify gays and extort money from them.

Dozens of Western-funded aid groups have been shut down and expelled from Uzbekistan since a wave of international criticism followed a brutal crackdown on popular unrest in May 2005 in the eastern city of Andijan.

Rights groups and witnesses say government troops killed at least 700 mostly peaceful protesters, while the government put the death toll at 187 and blamed Islamic militants for instigating the violence.

President Islam Karimov has ruled the predominantly Muslim nation of 26 million since before the 1991 Soviet collapse. (AP)

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Uzbek authorities
accuse U.S.–based aid group of "supporting gay

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