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Azerbaijani activists to hold Pride events for first time in history

9 June 2022
Photo: Minority Azerbaijan.

Queer rights activists in Azerbaijan have announced plans to hold events to mark Pride month this June for the first time in the country’s history.

‘We have launched this initiative together to be the voice of all those who are facing problems, are threatened by society and the government, and whose rights are being violated’, feminist activist Rabiya Mammadova said at a press conference in Baku on Thursday. The event was also co-organised by queer rights activists Javid Nabiyev and Ali Malikov.

‘We thought that pride month, celebrated every year around the world, should be celebrated in Azerbaijan as well; we have good reasons for this’, Malikov told OC Media. ‘The LGBTQ+ community is threatened by both society and the state. Given the existing threats, the queer community must now find its place in society.’

Mammadova told OC Media that the exact format and dates of the events was still being decided.

‘In a country like Azerbaijan, it’s very dangerous to plan events in advance and announce them, so our discussions are still ongoing’, she said.

‘This is our first step in connection with Pride Month, and we will do our best to make it sustainable in the coming years’, she added. 

During the press conference, the activists discussed many of the problems facing queer people in Azerbaijan, including from the government and wider society. They brought up examples including the murder of journalist and queer activist Avaz Hafizli by a relative, as well as the killing of transgender women.

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Javid Nabiyev told OC Media that the last time queer activists came together to speak openly to the press was in 2014, following the death of Isa Shahmarli.

Isa Shahmarli was the head of Azad LGBT, a queer rights group.

Shahmarli, an outspoken supporter of queer rights in Azerbaijan, took his own life aged just 20, citing the pressure he faced due to his sexuality.

[Read on OC Media: Seven years after the suicide of Isa Shakhmarli — little change for queer Azerbaijanis]

‘In today’s world, in the international arena where human rights are paramount, it is time for LGBTQ+ people in Azerbaijan to present their problems and activities to the public. We are even late to do this’, Nabiyev said.

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