Authorities 'begin violent crackdown on LGBT people in Azerbaijan'

'Authorities begin violent crackdown on LGBT people in Azerbaijan'

A crackdown on LGBT people has allegedly started (Stock image)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Activists claim a violent crackdown on LGBT people in Azerbaijan has been started by authorities.

According to reports many LGBT people have been arrested during the past 10 days.

One gay man told The Guardian he had been arrested by the police and given a fine and said "the police told me they would arrest me if they see me in the street again. Now I am afraid to leave my house."

Lawyer Samed Rahimli said that whilst there have previously been crackdowns on gay and trans people in the country, this latest attempt at repression is much larger. He claims there are "systematic and widespread raids.'

Rahimli is helping those who have been detained and says he knows of 60 people who've been given a 20 day prison sentence or fined.

He claims those who have been imprisoned have been charged with resisting orders by police and suggests this is common in the country, with arbitrary arrests a regular occurrence.

But authorities in Azerbaijan claim they are not targeting LGBT people. A spokesman for the interior ministry, Eskhan Zakhidov, told local news agency APA: “These raids are not against all sexual minorities.

"The arrested are people who demonstratively show a lack of respect for those around them, annoy citizens with their behaviour, and also those whom police or health authorities believe to be carriers of infectious diseases.”

It is not clear what prompted the alleged crackdown.