Azerbaijan: Tortured for being gay

Khayal was arrested, tortured and kept in detention for nine days – for being gay.

A new film supported by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) tells the story about the recent purge against the LGBTI community in Azerbaijan.

Random arrests

– Our journalist-partners have documented random arrests of 150 people, beatings and use of electroshock, says Mina Skouen, Senior Advisor on LGBTI in NHC.

At least 50 of them were imprisoned for over 20 days.  Many of the victims lost their apartments and jobs upon release, and live in fear of new assaults.


– I couldn’t move after they beat my head, knees and arms with baton and they used electro shock 30-35 times, says Khayal. The 29 year has been too frightened since his release to contact lawyer and have fled his apartment, worried about being arrested again.

The arrests were “appropriate measures to restore public order and security”, according to Azerbaijani authorities. These charges have not been substantiated.  The film exposes the real reason for the purge: Because of their assumed sexual orientation and gender identity.

Calls for action

– NHC calls for international action now against the severe violation of human rights against LGBTI in Azerbaijan documented in the film, says Skouen.

Recently there has been a wave of attacks on persons assumed to be LGBTI persons in many countries, such as Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Tajikistan and Belarus, Egypt and Indonesia. NHC fear that there is a ripple effect.

– Lack of international action gives an impression that there is impunity for committing systematic human rights violations against assumed LGBTI persons, says Skouen.

Watch the full documentary (5 minutes) about the recent purge against the LGBTI community in Azerbaijan.