Friday, 31 July 2009

Report on violations of LGBT rights in Azerbaijan presented at UN Human Rights Committee

Via Friends of Azerbaijan, Gender and Development local LGBT NGO, in partnership with Global Rights and ILGA-Europe, presented a report on The Violations of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in Azerbaijan at the 96th session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. It's not clear what was the outcome of that meeting, or whether any practical actions will follow, but the precedent was set as LGBT rights were specifically discussed as part of the overall state of human rights in Azerbaijan at the highest international level. However, when it comes to human rights, UN mechanisms are slow and frequently inefficient.

Earlier Reuters reported that the decision is to be expected on 31 July.
The committee session was held as a top-level delegation from the European Union, with which Azerbaijan is seeking to boost economic relations especially in the energy sector, was expressing alarm in Baku about rights.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who headed the EU team, told reporters there on Monday that he had expressed concern to President Ilham Aliyev over the arrest of two opposition bloggers who were accused of hooliganism.

At the same time, ambassadors of the 27 EU member states voiced disquiet "about the condition of human rights and freedoms" in the country where Aliyev and his late father have held power almost uninterrupted for nearly three decades.

But at a Geneva news conference, NGOs said they feared the EU was unlikely to go beyond words in its criticism of Azerbaijan, a key supplier of oil and gas from Caspian Sea fields offering an alternative to energy from Russia.

"In our experience, the countries most likely to take a strong stance are the United States and (non-EU member) Norway -- they have their own oil," said Florian Irminger of the Geneva-based Human Rights House Foundation.