Newscafe

HOMOSEXUALS STRUGGLE IN AZERBAIJAN

Shahnaz Ahmadova

“Yesterday I wanted to jump off a bridge. But I was not brave enough. I was thinking about my fianceé. We ran away from Azerbaijan together. But he abandoned me. He couldn’t stand the pressure and being away from his family.

Javid Nabiyev is 25 years old and works for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Azerbaijan Alliance of NEFES. He is the founder.There are four LGBT organizations in Azerbaijan. NEFES was founded in 2012. The mission of the organization is to improve social and political environment in terms of LGBT rights in the country. At present Nefes Azerbaijan cooperates with International partners (http://lgbtaz.org/).

Nabiyev’s parents passed away a few years ago. He lives alone. He says he first noticed that he had crushes on boys when was 23. “Only one of my friends reacted well,” he said. “Most of my friends and relatives condemned me. Later, I got braver and became a member of LGBT. When I met my boyfriend in January I didn’t hide my homosexuality.”

A month ago they were engaged. Nabiyev kept his fiancée anonymous in a post about his engagement on Facebook. The next day several news web sites published his post with headlines: “Homosexuals are engaged in Azerbaijan.” Within days, relatives and neighbors turned away from him. The pressure from his fiancée’s family and threats from other people made them flee Azerbaijan and go to Istanbul.

“We wanted to get married. But soon he found out his mother was in the hospital. He could not stay from his family. He couldn’t bear the pressure and went back to Azerbaijan,” says Nabiyev.


He says his neighbors in Istanbul created a new problem for him: “My neighbors sued me in the court. They wanted to move me out of my house just because I am gay. My bank accounts were frozen from Azerbaijan. I have to go back.I don’t know what will happen after I’m back, how I will live, but I will try to solve all the problems in my life.”


In January 2014, human rights activist and the Azerbaijan Free LGBT Organization chief Isa Shahmarli committed suicide. After his family rejected him, he was expelled from the University of Culture and Arts, and lost contact with his friends. Nabiyev says Shahmarli could not bear it any longer. Nabiyev says he wants to achieve what his friend could not do -- improve society’s attitudes.


In 2013, IsaShahmarli the founder of the Free LGBT organization conductedaresearch; all age groups from LGBT community took part in the survey. The survey took place in Baku, Sumgait and Ganja cities. The 98% of women and 82% of men who participated in the survey said that they had been subjected to violence at least once in their lives. 83% of men and 56% of women said that they had been subjected to violence two or more times in their lives. The 92% of women, and 71% of men said that, that was physical violence.


Homosexuality was a crime in Azerbaijan until 2001, when that law was removed so Azerbaijan could be accepted into the European Council. Nobody was realized from prizon before, but it was crime and prohibited. But same-sex marriages are not allowed in Azerbaijan.