In independent Azerbaijan, like in other post-Soviet states, including Armenia, cross-dressing is still used by some of the most popular comedians, actors, performers.
RFE/RL report suggests, however, that at least for one Azeri MP & co this is no longer considered as ‘funny’ (regardless of the context) .
Dressing up as women is something of a stock in trade for Azerbaijani comedians Rafael and Cosqun. But the double act has run into trouble over an advertisement for a major mobile-phone operator in which the two men don blond and brunette wigs twinned with white and black dresses. The advertisement for Azercell appeared on billboards across Baku and on television. [...] But not everyone was amused. Parliament member Fazil Mustafa sharply criticized the actors' cross-dressing, labeling it as contradictory to the Azerbaijani mentality, and last month called on the Baku City Executive Office to take down the billboards.
*picture via RFE/RL
If I understood right from this Wikipedia article (AZ), he is a member of parliamentary human rights committee (! - not that I have any illusion re what ‘human rights’ committee in Azeri parliament could possibly represent) and member of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE. He is also a member of the “Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe” (no comment, indeed).
I suppose, as long as cross-dressing appeared as part of parody or comedy sketch shows, it was considered for him & co as something of an ‘entertainment only’, 'safe', something to laugh-off. But seeing this on billboards, up-your-face, or as part of ads entering into daily life (routine!) signalled some kind of ‘threat to masculinity’ and apparently 'national mentality'.
I like the mobile phone company response: “The company has investigated and established that there are no laws that would forbid male actors in women's clothing from promoting a company. The 'Azercell' advertisement contained no embarrassing elements and nothing that would cause psychological stress or spoil people's moral atmosphere."
Truly, a comedy. #funnysad
The ads were since halted and billboards taken down, reports RFE/RL.
*Thanks to O.K. for the link.