I mentioned earlier in my blog, and it's official now. Reports on LGBT life in Georgia and Azerbaijan have been formally released by ILGA-Europe and COC Netherlands. A truly historic event for gay rights movement in South Caucasus. For the first time ever, a comprehensive report on situation with LGBT people in South Caucasus states have been prepared based on fact-finding mission conducted locally. To my knowledge, similar report on Armenia is ready and will be released soon. Today I am posting formal joint releases by ILGA-Europe and COC Netherlands. I will review these reports later.
Georgia and Azerbaijan must stop discrimination and incitement to hatred and put in place an inclusive anti-discrimination law in line with Council of Europe and EU standards if they aspire to EU membership. This is according to the joint ILGA-Europe and COC Netherlands reports on the position of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in the two South Caucasian countries.
The comprehensive reports are the result of a joint fact-finding mission and reflect the vulnerable social and legal situation of LGBT people. They also reflect the position of national authorities and international organisations. Finally, the reports give a particular focus to lesbian and bisexual women and transgender people and give examples of human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The reports seek to raise awareness of European and international organisations, put pressure for positive change on national governments and encourage donors to support LGBT organising in these countries.
Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:
“The reports illustrate the vulnerable position of LGBT communities and the systematic nature of human rights violations against them. This situation runs against Georgia and Azerbaijan’s obligations under the European Convention for Human Rights and against European Union laws and values these countries have to respect if they aspire to EU membership in the future”.
Frank van Dalen, President of COC Netherlands, said:
“Upon completion of the fact-finding mission to South Caucasus, COC Netherlands with ILGA-Europe and other partners has started a five-year project aimed at strengthening LGBT movements in the Newly Independent States and prevention of HIV/AIDS in this community. First results give very positive hopes: where there has been hardly any movement before now there are strong, registered NGOs advocating for human rights and social equality and providing a range of services for the community”.
A high level of hostility towards same-sex relationships and diverse gender identities prevails in virtually every aspect of Georgian society. Many believe them to be a disease, some see them as a sin, others as a perversion. Human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are opposed by some prominent human rights defenders and other high-level figures. Stigmatisation is so pervasive that most LGBT people are forced out of communities, deprived of any chance to openly express their sexual orientation or gender identity, and suffer from discrimination and hate crimes. And yet they are forced to come out and organise into associations and groups if they want to be able to stand up for who they are.
This joint ILGA-Europe and COC report is the first of its kind to be published about same-sex relationships and LGBT people in Georgia. It explores identities, common human rights violations, the landscape of LGBT organising, health and HIV/AIDS, and relevant legal aspects. It also provides recommendations to the Georgian government, donors, LGBT activists and international organisations.
Full report on Georgia is available here
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are not invisible in the predominantly Muslim Azerbaijani society. Tens of transgender sex workers go into the main street of the capital city Baku every night, prominent showbiz figures barely hide their sexual orientation, mass media gives more space every day to the subject of sexual orientation and gender identities. And yet one should not be misled by this relative visibility: there is a price of estrangement from family, bullying, social exclusion, discrimination, blackmailing and hate crimes attached to it.
This joint ILGA-Europe and COC report is the first of its kind to be published about same-sex relationships and LGBT people in Azerbaijan. It explores identities, common human rights violations, the landscape of LGBT organising, health and HIV/AIDS, and relevant legal aspects. It also provides recommendations to the Azerbaijani government, donors, LGBT activists and international organisations.
Full report on Azerbaijan is available here