Mass raids targeting LGBTI individuals have been carried out in Baku.
More than 100 people suspected of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans have been rounded up by Azerbaijani police. Many report being beaten, verbally abused and subjected to forced medical examinations while in custody.
Tell the President of Azerbaijan to release them immediately. This campaign of discrimination must stop now.
On 22 September 2017, Azerbaijani police conducted multiple raids targeting LGBTI people in a deliberate attempt to intimidate. More than 100 people were detained and at least 48 remain in jail.
Many report being beaten, verbally abused and subjected to forced medical examinations. Trans women were forced to have their heads shaved.
All were denied access to a lawyer of their own choosing.
A representative of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs has been quoted in international media justifying the raids as a response to complaints made by local residents that LGBTI people were not “respecting others around them”.
He went on to say police approached only those LGBTI individuals who made no attempt to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity in public, adding that many of those detained tested positive for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, making them dangerous for the health of the people around them.
The Aids Centre in Baku released a statement saying they had not been involved in any such testing process.
It is clear these raids are a deliberate attempt by the authorities to intimidate LGBTI persons in Azerbaijan.
LGBTI persecution in Azerbaijan
Consensual sex between adult men was decriminalised in Azerbaijan in 2000. However strong negative attitudes towards LGBTI people are still common. As a result of the general crackdown on civil society and societal homophobia and transphobia, Azerbaijan lacks a visible LGBTI movement.
In recent years, we’ve documented an increase in cases of harassment and intimidation of prominent human rights activists by the Azerbaijani authorities. Many have been arrested just for doing their jobs, leaving very little room to breathe for civil society in Azerbaijan.