Having won this year’s Eurovision song contest on Saturday, Azerbaijan will be hosting the 2012 Eurovision song contest – but campaigners have criticised the country’s poor LGBT rights record.
Azerbaijan scooped a surprise victory with the song Running Home Scared sung by pop duo Ell/Nikki.
Unfortunately, running home scared is exactly what many LGBTs find themselves doing in the deeply homophobic eastern European country.
Human rights groups have declared the country as an ‘unwelcoming’ and ‘unsafe’ country for LGBT people.
Prominent human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell says: “Although homosexuality was decriminalised in 2001, the LGBT community suffers police harassment and brutality, including bashings, blackmail, intimidation, bribery and invasions of privacy. LGBT people risk eviction from their homes and dismissal from their jobs. The Eurovision organisers must seek guarantees from the Azerbaijani government that it will respect human rights, that visitors to next year’s competition will not be victimised and that domestic and foreign media covering the event will be able to report freely, without harassment.”