Leaked Zoom call exposes Azerbaijani politicians’ open homophobia as they regret ‘that Hitler did not exterminate the gays’
Leaked footage from Zoom calls between senior Azerbaijani politicians has uncovered appalling levels of homophobia within the top ranks of the opposition party.
The four videos leaked between May 13 and 17 reveal conversations between leading members of the National Council of Democratic Forces, an alliance of opposition parties in Azerbaijan.
In one shocking video the politicians discuss the importance of LGBT+ rights to their Western supporters, a translation by OC Media reports.
Gultakin Hajibayli, a former MP and member of the National Council’s Coordination Centre, warned that “the number one priority for the West is the rights of sexual minorities, the rights of undesirables.”
She then turned the conversation to the sexual orientation of Ismail Djalilov, an openly gay Azerbaijani journalist who has previously criticised Hajibayli.
As the politicians join her in criticising the journalist’s sexuality, Rafik Manafli, a board member of the Civil Unity Party, calls Djalilov a “male whore” and said that “it’s a pity that Hitler did not exterminate all the gays in his time.”
After that, a member of the National Council, Ganimat Zahid can be heard saying, “Our meeting is going live, be careful.”
It remains unclear who leaked the footage on Facebook, but it spread quickly and launched a scandal in Azerbaijani politics.
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The Chairman of the National Council Jamil Hasanli called the distribution of the video “cybercrime” and blamed both the Azerbaijani government and the State Security Service.
Politicians claims her insults weren’t directed at sexual minorities
Homosexuality is not criminalised in the former Soviet republic but discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is still legal, and common. In 2016, Azerbaijan was ranked the worst place in Europe to be LGBT+.
Talking to BBC Azerbaijan on May 14, Hajibayli admitted that she used “harsh” and “rude” language, but claimed that she was talking about “a specific person, not about sexual minorities.”
“I have written an apology in this regard. If someone in Azerbaijan, a member of a sexual minority or group, applied these words to themselves then this is wrong,” she said.
She also added that the words Djalilov had used to criticise her were “incomparably stronger than the ones I used in the video”.
Manafli has refused to apologise to the journalist, saying: “I cannot accept his demonstrative promotion of LGBT+ people.”
However, he was prepared to admit that his comments about exterminating gays were “unfortunate and inappropriate.”