Police in Azerbaijan recently launched a brutal crackdown on LGBT people, leading to the arrests of dozens of people.
Human rights groups have now urged Azerbaijan to release the LGBT people from jail after reports claiming that detainees were subjected to beatings, verbal abuse and forced medical examinations surfaced.
Javid Nabiyev, president of the Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance, told CBC: “In the beginning it was just sex workers who got arrested, and then day by day the arrests growed and others got arrested.”
On the Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance Facebook page, Nabiyev revealed that some detainees had their heads shaved.
Other detainees were only released after giving up addresses of fellow members of the LGBT community who were then arrested and subjected to the same treatment.
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs responded to the criticism by claiming that the raids were not a specific attack on the LGBT community but a crackdown on prostitution.
Nabiyev has revealed that many LGBT people are worried the arrests could get worse and eventually lead to death, prompting them to leave the country and moving to Turkey or Georgia.
Homosexuality in Azerbaijan was legalised in 2000, but the country was ranked the worst in Europe for LGBT people in a 2016 survery by ILGA.