Azerbaijan: Local news coverage of gay engagement forces couple to flee country

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A gay couple who were forced to go into hiding after local news outlets reported their engagement have now fled the country.

Javid Nabiyev and his partner got engaged in a small ceremony in Sumqayit, one year after meeting.

However, after several local news outlets saw pictures of the ceremony, attended only by a few friends, the couple received a slew of hate-mail and death threats.

They said they had to leave home after people gathered outside their house and shouted homophobic abuse. Last week, Nabiyev said he was safe, staying with friends, but that his partner, 19, had been taken to his parents’ house.

iafrica reports the couple have now fled the country, leaving their homes “in the dead of the night,” and are currently living abroad.

Mr Nabiyev told AFP: “Now we have to somehow get by in exile.”

He did not disclose their new country of residence, only saying they cannot apply for asylum there.

Despite their treatment, Mr Nabiyev has said he still wants to keep fighting for gay rights in Azerbaijan.

“In the future we want to get married,” he said.

“Azerbaijan has no legislation to protect sexual minorities and our society is not ready to tolerate us. But I’ll keep fighting.”

Although same-sex sexual activity was made legal in Azerbaijan in  2000, there are no discrimination protections, and same-sex marriage or civil unions are currently not recognised there.