*via BBC News
Officials in Azerbaijan insist gay visitors are welcome to the 2012 Eurovision song contest when the event, which has an enthusiastic gay following, is hosted in the capital, Baku.
However, such assurances jar with those who have had first-hand experience of how homosexuals are treated in Azeri society. [...]
"During Eurovision, no-one will bother gay foreigners in Baku," says Alekper Aliyev, a writer and an author of a controversial book about a gay relationship between an Azeri and a man from Armenia, the country's historic enemy.
"People here don't mind, as long as it's not in their family.
"There are several openly gay celebrities in Baku who have money and bodyguards, and they are safe.
"But nothing will change for the majority of gays, particularly in the provinces. This society will never accept them."
Azeri officials disagree, pointing out that Azerbaijan decriminalised homosexuality in 2001.
"Recently there has been much ill-informed speculation by some expatriates about how we treat our homosexual community," says Elnur Aslanov, a senior official from the presidential administration.
"We consider all this nothing more than an unsuccessful attempt by those naysayers to gain a better reputation in their respective countries in the light of the upcoming Eurovision song contest in Azerbaijan." [...]
Read the BBC report in full here.
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