Response stories

Breaking barriers: combatting sexual orientation prejudice in Azerbaijan

Murad (name changed), a 20-year-old science student at a university, has faced immense challenges in his young life. At the age of 15, he discovered his sexual orientation when he fell in love with a friend. This realization brought him face-to-face with the harsh realities of prejudice and discrimination. As the only child of elderly parents, Murad took great pains to shield them from potential rumors and the societal backlash that could devastate them.

Despite his efforts to maintain a low profile, Murad’s secret was threatened when a classmate discovered his truth. The classmate menacingly suggested revealing Murad’s sexual orientation to his family, a prospect that filled Murad with dread. For Murad, the thought of his parents suffering because of his identity was unbearable.

In his distress, Murad reached out to REActor. Understanding the gravity of the situation, REActor referred Murad to a lawyer for immediate assistance. The lawyer arranged to meet Murad at the NGO Struggle Against AIDS (SAAPU) office to discuss the best course of action.

Following the lawyer’s advice, Murad invited the threatening classmate to a meeting. Though initially hesitant, the classmate agreed to attend. During the meeting, the lawyer calmly and firmly outlined the legal repercussions of mental abuse and blackmail. Confronted with the serious consequences of his actions, the classmate had a change of heart. He apologized to Murad and assured him that he would respect his privacy going forward.

Murad’s story highlights the fundamental importance of privacy as a human right. Privacy underpins freedom of association, thought, and expression, as well as freedom from discrimination. While different countries and individuals hold varying views on privacy, the rights of all human beings must be safeguarded, regardless of the obstacles they face. And thanks to the ongoing support and advocacy of organizations such as SAAPU and the work of REActors, the situation in the country is changing.

Also read:

Bridging borders: battling stigma in Bosnia and Herzegovina

“I have my right to work”: the resilience of a person living with HIV working in a hospital in North Macedonia