This country ‘has the worst LGBT rights in Europe’
Azerbaijan has the worst human rights records for LGBT people in all of Europe, it has been claimed.
The LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament this week issued a call for Europe to halt the crackdown on LGBT people in the country.
In echoes of this year’s “gay purge” in Chechnya, there have reportedly been widespread arrests and assaults of gay people in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.
MEPs Sophie in ‘t Veld and Marietje Schaake issued a parliamentary question to High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini to demand action.
Vice President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament in ‘t Veld said: “When it comes to LGBTI rights, Azerbaijan has a terrible reputation.
“Dozens of people have been arrested, imprisoned and fined in Azerbaijan for ‘looking gay’.”
She added: “Within Europe, Azerbaijan has the worst human rights record with respect to LGBTI, even worse than Russia.
“It is about time that Europe speaks up against the deplorable human rights situation and calls for better protection of all Azerbaijani citizens.”
Schaake called for a freeze on further EU-Azerbaijan relations until there is an improvement of the human rights situation.
“The EU is Azerbaijan’s most important trade partner,” she said.
“We need to demand concrete steps in the field of human rights, even when this means freezing the negotiations.
“Mogherini should not hesitate to do so if the grave human rights violations continue.”
The questions submitted are repeated below in full:
Reports suggest that over the past two weeks, dozens of people have been arrested, imprisoned and fined in Azerbaijan for “looking gay”. According to LGBTI activists and lawyers based in the country members of the LGBTI community have reported being assaulted, forcibly medically examined, fined or forced to reveal contact details from their mobile phones by law enforcement officials.
– Is the HR/VP aware of this recent crackdown on the LGBTI community in Azerbaijan and will she call for a thorough and independent investigation of the human rights situation of LGBTI persons in Azerbaijan?
– Following the LGBTI Guidelines (1) what concrete actions will the HR/VP take to improve the human rights situation of LGBTI persons in Azerbaijan?
– The EU is currently negotiating a new Association Agreement with Azerbaijan; what effect will the developments described above, as well as the ongoing crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan have on these negotiations and will the HR/VP consider freezing these negotiations?
(1) Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons (2013)
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In response to reports, police have said that their actions have nothing to do with anyone’s sexual orientation and accused the detainees of being engaged in prostitution
Other reports from inside the country state that the raids were carried out in the name of “protecting national moral values”.
Ayaz Efendiyev, deputy chairman of the Justice Party, said: “Defending these creatures who are sources of immorality, dangerous diseases, and who have been cursed by God, Western circles are trying to destroy our national traditions under the name of ‘human rights’.”
Even prior to the most recent crackdown, Azerbaijan has a poor record regarding LGBT rights.
This is despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2000.
LGBT people and activists till face routine and systematic oppression and the country was earlier this year rated the worst in Europe for LGBT rights .
In 2015, the European Parliament voted to condemn the “intimidation and repression” of LGBTI people in the country.