A 53-year-old gay man has been found dead in Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku, according to reports.

The body of the man, who has been named by police as M Namiyev, was found last night on the side of Sumgayit Highway, in the Baku suburb of Bilacari.

Police information indicates that Mr Namiyev, who was openly gay, was murdered, with early reports suggesting that he died after being beaten and stabbed.

The police and prosecutor’s office say a criminal investigation into the death has been launched and is currently underway.

The news comes in the wake of a gay pride ‘mini rally’ which took place in Baku on 7th September.

The rally, which is believed to be the first gay parade in the Muslim country, took place peacefully, with no arrests and no reports of harassment or violence, though the number of participants in the parade has not been publicised.

Oxu News reported that the event, organised by gay rights activists Ruslan Baluxin, took place “in a friendly atmosphere and without incident.”

According to Modern Azerbaijan, the campaigners covered their faces, but also raised rainbow pride flags high over their heads.

It emerged earlier today however that Azerbaijanis have been voicing their disapproval of the parade online after discovering it took place.

Although homosexuality was decriminalised in 2001, oppression and harassment of LGBT people in the Muslim country is thought to be widespread. There are no legal provisions for same-sex unions and no laws protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said LGBT Azerbaijan citizens suffer police harassment and brutality, blackmail, intimidation, bribery and invasions of privacy and have no legal protection against discrimination.