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Khanim Javadova, Gay and Lesbian rights in Azerbaijan, UN-2013

This report is prepared for Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists Fellowship Program, 2013
by

Khanim Javadova

on 3 August 2013

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Transcript of Khanim Javadova, Gay and Lesbian rights in Azerbaijan, UN-2013

Human rights situation in Azerbaijan
(gay and lesbian rights)

By Khanim Javadova
Thanks for attention!

Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist's Fellowship Program, 2013
Background photo by http://pcsproud.org.uk/
Khanim Javadova,
BBC WS/Azeri
Baku, Azerbaijan

Story 1: Prefers to stay anonymous
19 year old gay hides his orientation and tries to communicate only to LGBT people.
“Some of friends left me when they knew my orientation", he says that he feels upset for this. (BBCAzeri)
Story 2 (prefers to stay anonymous)
26 year old lesbian says that, unlike gay people, lesbians face "public condemnation" more, because they are "women"and financially dependent on their parents, they forced to marry with men. Or lesbians have to live alone. "My girlfriend also was forced to marry by her family", she says. (BBCAzeri)

Facts
LGBT people:
LGBT and Society
One out of the 2 LGBT people, have been beated or insulted at least once by their family members or society (Free LGBT survey)

Very rare official comments made yet about gay and lesbian issues
Hadi Rajabli, parliamentary in Baku said to AFP that "we don't have such a problem. we could have only 3-4 such people"
But blackmailing by police gets higher, because gay people afraid to be known publicly

Free LGBT: no official pressure by government to LGBT people
Universal Periodic Review: Police use harassment and violence against LGBT people

The US State Department, 2012: “the government did not officially condone discrimination based on sexual orientation; however, there was societal prejudice against homosexuals.

Country score: -4 by International Lesbian and Gay Association (not safe)

keep their orientation out to the public mostly
don't use own photos and names if use social media for dating.
live with their families as it is social norm in country to live with family until marriage (but there are exceptions also).
usually don’t tell their families about their gender identity
mainly live in capital city, Baku
meet in home atmosphere or in NGO offices. (there is no any public LGBT friendly venue)
2 unofficial gay bars and 3 lesbian ones
- Society has blury understanding of homosexualism- gays for them are the same as transsexuals, who do prostitution in 90% cases.
- Harsh critism- by fanatic religious people, conservative one and "national mentality" supporters
- Discrimination by sexual orientation- using mouth-word or hate crime and violence
- Even society makes concerns on sexual orientation of journalists, who report on gay and lesbian issues
- LGBT people called known as "mavi" (blue) as offensive term like the Russian word "petuh" (cock)
- Large part of society think that LGBT people are sick and "immoral"
- MSM is the most widespread (people critisize passive gays more)
- Society often don't consider lesbians seriously
- Sometimes "to call someone as LGBT member" is used for political purposes "to damage the reputation of members of opposition political - parties", local HR activists say.
- One of the local fast-food network prohibited to serve the gay guests, in march,13, 3 gay haven't allowed to enter the restaurant, one of them been beaten by waiters, issue reported to police, but no investigation made by police.
- Police workers are main troublemaker for LGBT people/they get acquainted with LGBT people on Internet, asking them to meet, during meeting police take pics or videos of the person and blackmail gay people to show chat or pics to their families. Gay people pay money to solve the problem. (In June-26 facts, only one issue went to court and the decision of the court was in favor of LGBT. -Free LGBT NGO)
No legislation to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people
No legislation for same-sex marriage
No legislation to allow transgender people to change the bodies by medical system or legally

But,
- Constitution of Azerbaijan (25) guarantees to EVERYONE equality of rights and freedoms regardless of his or her “country, race, nationality, religion, language, sex, origin, property and official status, conviction, affiliation with political parties, trade unions and other social organisations”.
- Azerbaijan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Sexual relations between men in Azerbaijan were decriminalized in January 2001 before requesting membership in the Council of Europe.

Legislation
An international website, which announces LGBT events, listed Eurovision SC 2012 as gay-friendly event. But a local news-website announced that, foreigners visiting to Baku to watch Eurovision SC-2012, will also hold "gay pride", although the journalist did not talk to website owners. The scandal started after this, when all media in Azerbaijan also did not clarify the information, except BBC. TV channels and other media made several reportages, talked to experts, police, government members, mps. The pick of all was when iranian religious leader warned all religious azeri to protest government, aslo recalled the iranian ambassador back. After this azerbaijani youth hold protest in front of the iranian embassy shouting, "Azerbaijan does not need clerics – homosexuals!".
Also on social media such pages and groups as "10.000 people who don't want gay pride in Azerbaijan" opened.

ESC- an annual song competition held among many of the active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union since 1956, Azerbaijan joined in 2008.
Azerbaijan - country info

Capital city: Baku
Area: 86.6 thousand square kilometers
Border countries (Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Turkey from Nakhchivan AR
East part is bounded by the Caspian Sea
Population: around 9.5 million people (90% azeris)
Government: President and one ruling party (2003, October 31)
Religion: 93% muslim...
GNI: $48.519 billion (WBDI-2011)
@khanim
Full transcript