|This was on Saturday, gay arrests|
Dozens Held in Baku LGBT Roundup
Activists draw parallel to last spring’s brutal crackdown on Chechen gays.
At least 100 gay men and transgender women were detained in Baku in a series of raids last week, in what officials described as a crackdown on prostitution.
LGBT activists said the detainees were subjected to beatings, verbal abuse, and forced medical examinations, and trans women had their heads forcibly shaven, the Swedish group Civil Rights Defenders said.
An Interior Ministry spokesman told Caucasian Knot the police “had to take measures in connection with the fact that recently people of non-traditional sexual orientation engaged in prostitution gather regularly in certain places in the center of the city in the evening and violate public order.”
"In our country, representatives of sexual minorities have never been persecuted. However, this does not mean that they are exempt from liability for illegal actions,” the ministry official said.
A prominent LGBT activist, Javid Nabiyev, told Pink News that “suddenly, without any clear reasons to us, police officers organized raids against gay and transgender people.”
“It’s unclear what prompted the roundup, or how many people have been affected," he added.
The Interior Ministry spokesman said appeals by citizens prompted the police to act, but one human rights activist said there had been no roundup of gay prostitutes in Baku for 10 or 12 years.
“Since then, as far as I know, no such raids were conducted. But lately there has been a lot of talk about the fact that representatives of this category of people have again started gathering in the center of the city,” Arzu Abdullayeva of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly told Caucasian Knot.
“In general, people of non-traditional [sexual] orientation are not oppressed. But there is an increased intolerance in society towards people of non-traditional orientation who are engaged in prostitution,” Abdullayeva said.
Many detainees were reportedly releases only after turning over the addresses of other LGBT people, who were then in turn arrested “and subjected to the same treatment, Civil Rights Defenders said.
An undetermined number were sentenced to either 20 or 30 days of administrative detention.
- If confirmed, the reports of men being pressured to turn over information about other gays carry an echo of events in Chechnya last spring, when security forces allegedly rounded up and tortured hundreds of gay men, several of whom were reportedly killed by their families once released. Chechnya continues to deny the reports.
- An official at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa said Canada could face consequences if it was found to have violated Russian law by helping Russian gays enter the country as refugees, The Globe and Mail reported on 5 September.
- The Canadian government worked in secret with human rights groups to organize the transfer of the 31 men from Russia, CBC reported. Earlier this month the Toronto-based rights group Rainbow Railroad said 22 of the men had arrived in Canada.