Apr 242012
Spaziergänger an der Promenade von Baku

We often equate homosexuality with prostitution, the gay Azerbaijani Orkhan says in an interview. Religion and nationalism promoted this ignorance.

Orkhan from Baku is gay. For the interview the 19-year-old has chosen a pseudonym, because he wants to not be mentioned for safety reasons with his name.

TIME ONLINE: What about the everyday life of homosexuals in Baku Orkhan?

Orkhan: We talk not much about it, not even with friends and family. Only a minority tells her family that she is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The company is not talking about homosexuality. It does not respect us as individuals, but offended us.

TIME ONLINE: What are the reasons for this hostility?

Orkhan: Religion, tradition, conservatism. Religion - the most Azerbaijanis are Shiite--is one of the main reasons. Another reason is nationalism. It is said that homosexuality is not natural for our nation.

TIME ONLINE: There are organizations, sign up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender - shortly: LGBT - use?

Orkhan: No, there is no organization that fights for our rights. I've heard that there are two organizations, organize seminars, but there is no real information about it.

TIME ONLINE: For a year there is the website gay.AZ. What is this website?

Orkhan: This is a private initiative. The founders of the site wanted to visualize the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and break a taboo. For example, articles from other languages are translated, especially by Russian pages. More than 700 users have been registered in the Forum of gay.az, but unfortunately, usually only about 20 to 30 of which are active per day.

TIME ONLINE: What are the most important issues being discussed in the community?

Orkhan: The daily intolerance and the fight for it to be understood. In the Centre of Baku, it is okay to talk about. But already the suburbs of Baku are much religious and much more conservative and in the small towns the intolerance is even greater.

TIME ONLINE: In the year 2000, the law was abolished, which banned homosexuality. That was a condition for the inclusion of Azerbaijan in the Council of Europe.

Orkhan: Yes, homosexuality is legal since then. But she will not be tolerated. The law was abolished by those who were in power. If the population would have been asked, she would have voted against the repeal of the law.

TIME ONLINE: In the Report Forced out. LGBT people in Azerbaijan the European section of the International Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and Intersex Association ILGA from 2006 it is that raped gay police stations and transvestites in raids in bars were beaten up.

Orkhan: I don't know about this report. But I have heard that there is violence against homosexuals; as an eyewitness I have not seen it. Friends of mine have however observed that classmates in the school were beaten. So is the General setting.

TIME ONLINE: There are bars or clubs in Baku, where the community meets?

Orkhan: No, that does not exist in Baku. Also, it would not allow the City Government. There should however be clubs, tolerate the guests, who are not heterosexual - and where one is not ejected when it shows that one is gay.

TIME ONLINE: In St. Petersburg, a law was in March 2012adopted, that it prohibits on so-called gayTopics to write or debate.

Orkhan: Yes, and in Azerbaijan was a discussion to adapt this propaganda Act from Russia. That would make matters worse. Here, the people would have to finally understand, that we are not so much different.

TIME ONLINE: In may, he finds Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Azerbaijan instead. Is this pop song contest, which is popular with gays, alter your situation in Baku?

Orkhan: There was the Plan, one Gay-prideParade to arrange, but this discussion has only worsened the situation. TV - talk and comedy shows - were ridiculed gays and lesbians. Remember also the ESC will not change. The company simply know nothing about us. You imagine wrong us. She thinks we are prostitutes.

TIME ONLINE: Can because Gay tourists, which come to the shows of the ESC, make the community in Baku?

Orkhan: As tourists they will be tolerated by locals, at least in the Centre of Baku. In the suburbs, and in other places it is different. Who but kissing in public, will sure be offended. I would great if the community from other countries and Baku community met each other. Another question is whether the long-term changes slightly. At the moment, there is no potential for change.

TIME ONLINE: What do you want for the future?

Orkhan: I very much hope that the discrimination cease soon. At least that. This is probably my greatest desire.

Azerbaijan: "homosexuality is legal, they will not be tolerated"

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