Eurovision winner speaks out against Azerbaijan gay rights record

Sweden's Loreen met with human rights activists before winning the international pop contest

Eurovision winner speaks out against Azerbaijan gay rights record
27 May 2012

Eurovision winner Loreen, who stormed to victory last night (26 May) at the Eurovision Song Contest, has spoken publicly about Azerbaijan’s gay rights record.

The Swedish pop star met with human rights activists this week in the capital to encourage their fight for equality.

‘Human rights are violated in Azerbaijan every day. One should not be silent about such things,’ Azeri opposition newspaper Azadliq quoted Loreen as saying after her meeting.

Azerbaijan’s human rights record cast a shadow over the international pop contest, especially after it was revealed Baku residents had been forced out to make room for the newly-built Eurovision venue Crystal Hall.

Azeri authorities responded by criticising Loreen for making political statements.

Head of the public and political issues department at the presidential administration Ali Hasanov said: ‘Unfortunately there are some attempts of politicisation. The musical event cannot be politicised.’

Loreen evaded questions about her meeting at a press conference on Friday (25 May), after concerns from Eurovision officials that she might speak out during the grand final.

She said: ‘There are two parts of me, one that is private and one that is my work I’m doing here. Just today I want to keep the focus on this energy that we created right now.’

Homosexuality was illegal in the country until 2001, when Azerbaijan was forced to decriminalise the law to be accepted into the Council of Europe.

Gay Azeri artist Babi Badalov, who has recently been granted political asylum in France, told the BBC: ‘My brother has vowed to kill me, and then kill himself.’

He added: ‘The day I was ‘outed’, my sister screamed at me on the phone and told me to stay out of Azerbaijan. I don’t think I will ever be able to speak to any of them again.’

LGBT rights advocate Peter Tatchell said: ‘Azerbaijan has a shocking human rights record. It restricts religious and media freedom, suppresses peaceful protests, tortures political prisoners and jails journalists and opposition activists on trumped up charges.’

Eurovision will be held next year in Sweden, the first country in the world to say homosexuality is not an illness.  



No thumbnail available

Teachers: To come out or not to come out?

Elly Barnes, CEO and Founder of the UK’s Educate & Celebrate organization, says that the decision whether the come out or not remains a pressing concern for LGBT teachers today
No thumbnail available

Disciples of Christ church moves to allow LGBT clergy

America’s Disciples of Christ church has become the latest mainline protestant denomination to welcome gays and lesbians as members and to allow them to serve openly as clergy
No thumbnail available

Third gender finally recognized in Nepal

LGBT community welcomed a decision by the Nepalese government to recognize third gender as 'other'
No thumbnail available

Why I’m not offended by Gervais’ trans-gerbil tweet

A Twitter exchange between British comic Ricky Gervais and his ‘Idiot Abroad’ friend Karl Pilkington has sparked fury in the trans community, but is that the right response?
No thumbnail available

Nearly 50% of Brazilians support gay marriage and 60% adoption

A new Brazil wide survey reveals increased acceptance to LGBT people and support of gay rights, including marriage and adoption
No thumbnail available

Brett Ratner and GLAAD team up for video campaign

Director who lost job producing Oscars after using gay slur aims to educate
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Confirmed: Uganda Speaker will bring back anti-gay law

Rebecca Kadaga has said the bill will be re-tabled this month and parliament will vote as soon as possible
No thumbnail available

Sydney rally for same-sex marriage rescheduled to 1 September

Organizers of a rally in support of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia have rescheduled the event so it sends a message to politicians before 7 September national elections
No thumbnail available

Santorum wins easily in Louisiana

While Rick Santorum took a comfortable primary victory, he still lags behind