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Majority Muslim Azerbaijan gets first pride march

Majority Muslim Azerbaijan gets first pride march

A group of gay friends marched through the Azerbaijan capital Baku last Saturday with a rainbow flag in what is believed to be the country’s first ever LGBT pride celebration.

No arrests were made and there were no reports of violence or harassment.

Azerbaijani language news site Gay.Az reports that the event was organized by Ruslan Baluxin and a group of friends and followed a ‘mini rally.’

According to Gay.Az, Ruslan was greeted ‘in a friendly atmosphere and without incidents’.

95% of Azerbaijanis are Muslim, mostly Shiite like in neighboring Iran.

However homosexuality has been legal in former Soviet Azerbaijan since 2000, whereas Iran imposes the death penalty for homosexuality.

But while same-sex relationships are not punished in the Central Asian nation, they have no legal recognition or protection from discrimination.

Rumors were spread that an LGBT pride parade would take place in Azerbaijan during last year’s Eurovision Song Contest but the event never took place.

Azerbaijan’s secular government blamed the rumors on Iran as an attempt to smear the government as un-Islamic.