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Friday, May 25, 2012

Eurovision: Azerbaijan fails human rights test

Song contest organisers collude with regime & boost it’s image
Hosting Eurovision is PR coup for repressive Azeri state

London - 24 May 2012
“The Eurovision organisers have failed to secure guarantees from the Azerbaijani government that it will respect the human rights of its citizens, that visitors to Eurovision will not be victimised and that journalists covering the event will be able to report freely, without harassment,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights campaign group, the Peter Tatchell Foundation. 

He was commenting on the 2012 Eurovision contest, the final of which takes place in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, this Saturday, 26 May. 

“The government of Azerbaijan is using Eurovision as a propaganda tool to project a modern, liberal image to the outside world. The song contest organisers are colluding with this spin and PR. 

“The reality is that Azerbaijan has a very poor human rights record on all fronts. It restricts religious and media freedom, suppresses peaceful protests, tortures political prisoners and jails journalists and opposition activists on trumped up charges. The Baku government’s human rights record has been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Council of Europe.

Read these case studies of Azerbaijani oppression documented by the Campaign for Free Expression in Azerbaijan.
“Eurovision is renowned for its glitz, camp and kitsch. It has a huge gay following, yet Azerbaijan is often not a welcoming or safe country for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
“Homosexuality was decriminalised in 2001 and the country is much more liberal towards sexual minorities than neighbouring Iran. However, social prejudice is rife. The LGBT community suffers periodic police harassment and homophobic violence. LGBT people have no legal protection against discrimination. Consequently, they risk eviction from their homes and dismissal from their jobs. Homophobic prejudice, threats and violence mean that very few Azerbaijanis are openly gay,” said Mr Tatchell.
Read below the Peter Tatchell Foundation summary of human rights abuses in Azerbaijan, authored by James Howarth.
For further background information about LGBT and other human rights violations in Azerbaijan, see these reports:
International Lesbian and Gay Association
Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International

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