Around 40 people from Azerbaijan this week took part in the country’s first LGBT and Gender forum which was held in the country’s capital city, Baku.
The forum, which aimed to discuss LGBT and gender-equality issues in Azerbaijan, was organised by Nefes, the country’s leading LGBT+ organisation.
The forum was opened with an address dedicated to the memory of Isa Shahmarli, a well-known gay rights activist and founder of Free LGBT, who was found dead earlier this year.
In his opening talk Nefes’ president Javid Nabiyev talked about the frowing homophobia seen in Azeri culture and the worrying lack of legislation that existed to help eliminate it.
The address was followed by a video address by the ILGA’s (International lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association) programs director, Bjorn Van Roozendaal, who was unable to attend in person due to visa problems. Van Roozendaal used his time to talk about the ILGA’s concern with Azerbaijan and other countries in the region, saying that his organisation had been paying special attention to the South Caucasus in recent years.
The forum also featured a talk by lawer Asima Nasirli, who discussed gender-rights issues and gender-based violence in Azerbaijan. The event was ended with a film screening and round-table discussion in which those gathered could discuss the development of Nefes and their work.
The all-day event, which is being labelled as a success by those who attended, marks a positive step in LGBT acceptance and the gender-equality movement in Azerbaijan. Despite the modest turnout Nefes and individuals present have expressed their happiness with how the ground-breaking event went.