How are LGBT people treated in Azerbaijan? » LGBT Azerbaijan Gay.Az
How are LGBT people treated in Azerbaijan?
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How are LGBT people treated in Azerbaijan?

Азербайджан
The murder of a young LGBT activist in Azerbaijan once again drew attention to the problem of homophobia in the country. Despite the rise in the number of crimes against gays, this topic is hushed up.

In late February, 24-year-old journalist and LGBT activist Avaz Hafizli was killed in Baku. Amrul's cousin Gulaliev cut his throat. Gulaliev claims that he was drunk and killed Hafizli on the basis of a personal conflict.

This case differs from the usual "everyday life" that happens in Azerbaijan every day, both in the identity of the victim and in the eerie details of the case. For example, Avaz's friends claim that his cousin also cut off his genitals. The police officers and relatives who arrived at the scene insulted the deceased, and the family refused to write a statement and act as victims. Those who knew Avaz closely say that he had conflicts with his family for a long time, he received threats and could not find protection from anyone.

From all these details, a picture of a murder based on sexual orientation is formed. But the authorities did not go into any details and limited themselves to a dry official statement about the initiation of a criminal case.

Study: Europe's most homophobic country

Over the past few years, Azerbaijan has consistently occupied the last, 49th place in the Rainbow Europe rating compiled by ILGA Europe. That is, according to this study, it is the most homophobic of all European countries.

Although not particularly religious, Azerbaijani society is nevertheless very patriarchal. And, given that there is still a cult of virginity here, "honor killings" are committed and heterosexual premarital sex is condemned, it is even somehow naive to expect tolerance towards LGBT people.

In the first years of independence, there was an article for sodomy in the criminal code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In 2000, sexual relations between adult men with mutual consent were decriminalized, but this did not affect the negative attitude of society. Representatives of LGBT people in Azerbaijan, as a rule, carefully hide their orientation from their family and environment.

At the official level, the topic of LGBT is not raised at all in any form. Separate groups of activists deal with these problems "pointwise", in specific situations. But there is no full-fledged LGBT movement in the country.

"Digest" of LGBT scandals

From time to time, individual deputies and other public figures make homophobic statements, but, as a rule, the matter does not go beyond discussion in social networks. The calls of blogger Sevinj Huseynova, voiced in the fall of 2021, to “liberate society” from transgender people caused the greatest resonance. During the same period, there were several attacks on transgender women in and around Baku, one of which was brutally murdered. LGBT rights advocates linked these cases to Huseynova's calls and appealed to the police demanding that she be held accountable for inciting hatred, but this did not bring any tangible results.

Earlier, in 2017, the police staged a mass raid on representatives of the LGBT community in Baku, detaining about a hundred people. Some of the detainees were later released, some received 10-20 days of administrative arrest on charges of resisting the police. Some of them complained of ill-treatment during arrest and at the police station. This case attracted the attention of, among other things, the international human rights organization Amnesty International. But no one really understood what caused this sudden outbreak.

Even earlier, in 2014, a young LGBT activist, Isa Shahmarly, committed suicide. The day of his death, January 22, is now celebrated by Azerbaijani members of the LGBT community and their sympathizers as a day against homophobia.

The situation in the country

According to Ruslan Balukhin, editor-in-chief of Gay.Az, the first information resource in Azerbaijan, the LGBT community in Azerbaijan lacks consolidation, its members are very divided, and the majority prefer not to shine at all. "Azerbaijani society is generally passive. It is more concerned with pressing issues and 'what people say' than with their own rights and freedoms. And the LGBT community is no exception," he says.

Fight against police negligence, not against homophobes

Human rights activist Eldar Zeynalov believes that homophobic crimes, domestic violence against women and children, and early forced marriages should be considered in the same plane. Because, in fact, all this is the result of a distorted idea of ​​​​honor in the patriarchal society. And the reaction of law enforcement agencies to such crimes is also the same.

"In everything that concerns the mentality, ideas of honor and morality, Azerbaijani policemen are closer in their thinking to the criminal than to the victim. It is not surprising that they react very sluggishly to such incidents. And in this case, it is necessary to fight not with individual homophobes or domestic tyrants, namely with the negligence of the police, with the error of the system itself," Zeynalov is convinced.

In his opinion, such an approach is simply more effective - it is still easier to force law enforcement agencies to do their job than to change the mentality of society overnight.

Speaking about the murder of Avaz Hafizli, the human rights activist blames not only the police, but also the friends and associates of the victim, who are building versions that the guy was killed precisely because of his activist and journalistic activities. "Some argue that it was almost a contract killing, not realizing that in this way, in fact, they remove the blame from the killer, shifting it to some hypothetical customer. Thus, the murder turns into a political one, and not on the basis of homophobia," - says Eldar Zeynalov.

Nika Mousavi
gay.az/salam.gay/dw.com
Due to lack of funding, the article was translated by google translator. Gay.Az editors apologize for the inconvenience*
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15.03.2022

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