A teenager has escaped with his life after his family found out he was gay.
An 18-year-old from Azerbaijan, who we will call Malik to protect his identity, has been victim of blackmail for the past few months.
An anonymous person on Facebook threatened to out him to his family on 23 July, sending a picture of him marching in a Pride to his parents.
‘[Malik’s] parents attempted to burn him with gasoline,’ the LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance reports, adding they punched and kicked him.
‘Even though [Malik] ran away from home, a lot of his personal belongings and documents were taken away by his family….meaning he has no chance to leave the country.’
‘[Malik] is in a safe place right now. However, a threat to his life continues.’
While it is not illegal to be gay in Azerbaijan, the strong Muslim culture makes it very difficult to be out and live openly.
He was discovered dead after reportedly hanging himself using the rainbow-colored flag.
Prior to his death, Shakhmarli said in an interview that LGBT Azerbaijan people struggle because it is a homophobic country and many cannot find a job. This means 90% are forced to remain closeted.
‘Though psychologists explained it to my family, they still call it an illness.’ Shakhmarli said.
‘I wish our society was not biased. Before hating, read about homosexuality on the internet, learn about it. Then you can be free to hate after it.
‘I want LGBTs to be brave. I live separately from my family in my own house, I have my own job, I can do everything myself.
‘If you want, you can achieve.’