Trans woman brutally stabbed and burned alive in Azerbaijan

Nurray, a trans woman, poses in a white wedding dress

A trans woman was stabbed and burned alive in Baku, Azerbaijan, sparking passionate protests against transphobia.

In the Puta settlement of the capital city’s Garadagh district, 27-year-old Nurray was found dead on 22 August by law enforcement.

She was killed days before, on 18 August. Her body was covered in lacerations, detectives said according to Meydan TV, a local news outlet.

She had only recently celebrated her birthday, according to activists, when she was filmed smiling, dancing and singing karaoke with friends.

The Garadag District Prosecutor’s Office has since detained Mirshahid Mehtiyev, of the Agjabedinsky district, in connection to Nurray’s murder.

A motive has not yet been determined, but a personal conflict has been suggested.

“A criminal case was immediately initiated,” Ekhsan Zahidov, who oversees the state police force for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, told Happin.Az.

“During the investigation, it was established that 27-year-old [Nurray], a resident of Agdam district, was killed.”

He has been charged with deliberate murder under article 120.1 of the country’s criminal code.

After Nurray’s death, around a dozen trans activists gathered in front of the Office of Ombuds-Person in Baku, as they called for the authorities to stamp out prejudice and for the police ombudsman to hear their pleas.

Azerbaijan country is routinely rated among the worst in Europe for equality.

In 2017, the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament called for action against Azerbaijan following widespread arrests and assaults of gay people in Baku.

Many Azerbaijanis do not know what homosexuality even is, Gender and Development, a fledgling LGBT+ group in the country, said in a 2018 report. An adherence to so-called “old traditions” has left many hesitant to learn – and lawmakers resistant to change that.

Such hatred has continued to fester, with the increasing rates of violence being outgrowths of such prejudice, activists warn. After all, same-sex couples cannot marry or adopt, and trans people cannot legally change their gender.