Outcry as Azerbaijan police launch crackdown on LGBT community

At least 60 people have been put in jail or fined after several raids in the capital city, Baku

 President Ilham Aliyev

Authorities in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, have begun a vicious crackdown on the city’s LGBT community.  The last 10 days dozens of gay and trans people have been arrested. One person was beaten in police custody.

Homosexuality is legal in the oil-rich, post-Soviet country, but a survey released last year by a rights organisation ranked Azerbaijan as the worst of 49 European countries in which to be gay.

“There have been previous crackdowns on LGBT people, but this one is the largest, with regular and widespread raids,” A Baku-based lawyer who is helping coordinate legal defences for those who have been detained.

60 cases of LGBT people who had been either sentenced to 20 days’ imprisonment or just fined as part of the raid. Those in jail were charged with resisting police orders. “This is a common charge used in Azerbaijan for arbitrary arrests.”

Azerbaijani authorities denied that the roundup targeted all LGBT people. Eskhan Zakhidov, a spokesman for the country’s interior ministry, told the local APA news agency: “These raids are not against all sexual minorities. The arrested are people who demonstratively show a lack of respect for those around them, annoy citizens with their behaviour, and also those whom police or health authorities believe to be carriers of infectious diseases.

Credit:  The Guardian