Leaked Zoom meetings reveal homophobic attitudes of Azerbaijan politicians

A member of the National Council of Democratic Forces was sorry that 'Hitler did not exterminate the gays'.

A group of Azerbaijan politicians in a zoom meeting in

A series of leaked Zoom meetings from the National Council of Democratic Forces in Azerbaijan have revealed deeply homophobic attitudes, with one politician lamenting that “Hitler did not exterminate the gays”.

OC Media reported that four videos leaked containing senior members of the NCDF, an alliance of opposition parties, sharing problematic views.

In one of the leaked Zoom meetings, former Azerbaijan MP, Gultakin Hajibayli, cautioned the others involved that “the number one priority for the West is the rights of sexual minorities, the rights of undesirables”.

Next, Hajibayli discussed Ismail Djalilov – an LGBT+ activist and journalist. The group criticised Djalilov’s sexuality to the point where politician Rafik Manafli called him a “male whore” and said “it’s a pity that Hitler did not exterminate all the gays in his time.”

Following the leak, those involved were immediately on the defensive. In an interview with the BBC Azerbaijan, Hajibayli claimed that comments she made were only in reference to one person – Djalilov – “not about sexual minorities”. She continued, “I have written an apology in this regard. If someone in Azerbaijan, a member of a sexual minority or group, applied these words to themselves then this is wrong.”

Manafli backtracked on his comments about Hitler, saying they were “unfortunate and inappropriate” but did not follow with an apology to Djalilov. “I cannot accept his demonstrative promotion of LGBT+ people,” Manafli said.

Last week, in the lead up to International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, ILGA Europe released their Rainbow Map – a ranking of 49 European countries on their legal and policy situation for LGBTI+ people. Azerbaijan were ranked last on the list, as ILGA Europe catalogued the many anti-LGBT+ occurrences in the country.

ILGA’s findings arrived during a time when the LGBT+ community face a drastic increase in anti-LGBT+ rhetoric amid COVID-19. In recent news, Hungary voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending legal recognition of trans people. Led by the votes of the rightwing Fidesz party, headed by Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, the parliament pushed through the legislation by 134 to 56 with four absentees.

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