Gay Star News is reporting that an 18-year-old gay man in Azerbaijan is in hiding today, following his parents’ attempt to murder him after learning he is gay.
According to a close friend of the teen, identified as “Malik,” Malik’s parents punched, kicked, and “attempted to burn him with gasoline” after an anonymous person on Facebook sent them a photo of their son attending a gay pride parade.
GSN suggests Malik had been a “victim of blackmail for the past few months,” indicating that the anonymous outer threatened to out Malik as early as July 23.
“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’s friend tells GSN. “[Malik] is in a safe place right now. However, a threat to his life continues.”
Although same-sex sexual activity is legal in Azerbaijan, the country’s strong Muslim culture and roots in the former Soviet Union translate into inhumane treatment of LGBTs. Gay men and women are not allowed to marry in Azerbaijan, though they are eligible to serve openly in its military. According to the HRC, the country also boasts several prominent figures in LGBT activism, who organized their first official gay pride parade last year.
Malik’s ordeal comes just six months after the death of Isa Shakhmarli, an Azerbaijani activist who committed suicide in January by hanging himself with a rainbow flag. In a suicide note, he placed “blame” for his death on those who take part in Azerbaijan’s homophobic culture.