First LGBT – Gender forum held in Azerbaijan

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LGBT – Gender forum was held in Baku for the first time. About 40 LGBT people and other tolerant non-LGBT people took part in this forum, held by “Nəfəs LGBT Azerbaijan”. The forum consisted of 3 parts. The first part dedicated to the memory of Isa Shahmarli. Chair of Free LGBT, Lala Mahmudova talked about Isa Shahmarli and his dreams.

Next, the president of Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance, Cavid Nabiyev informed the participants about the organization’s mission and objectives, projects and campaigns carried out. He also spoke about existing and growing homophobia in the society and law enforcement agencies, and the lack of legislation to eliminate it.

In the second part of the forum, Bjorn Van Roozendaal, Programs Director of ILGA Europe (International Lesbian Gay Association), addressed to the participants with a video. Mr. Roozendaal’s planned visit was canceled at the last minute because of the visa problems. In his appeal Roozendaal said that, as a member of the European Council, Azerbaijan, like other member counties, has a number of obligations and responsibilities, which should be prioritized by each member country of the European Council. He also emphasized that ILGA Europe has been paying great attention to the Southern Caucasus countries in recent years. He said that every LGBT individual has to convince and force the state to recognize and protect his or her rights.

Lawyer Asima Nasirli informed the audience about gender rights, women’s rights and gender-based violence and problems in Azerbaijan. She said because women are dependent on men in terms of their social status, they cannot achieve their economic freedom. The reason for this is that the educational opportunities are taken away from women by forcing them into early marriage. She also said that gender- based violence comes from a society and governance dominated by men. As an example, she pointed out the fact that there are no women in a position of Attorney General or Head of Executive Committee in any cities of Azerbaijan.

The forum ended with watching a movie, “All you need is love”. The movie was translated into Azerbaijani by thee volunteers of Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance. The movie is about a heterosexual girl living in a society dominated by homosexual relationships, her struggles with her family, friends, classmates, and the violence she faces. In other words, the movie is the opposite of the real current situation, where homosexuality is a norm, and heterosexuality is a sin.

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