According to Lili, in the period before the pandemic and the war, awareness of LGBT rights in Azerbaijan was slowly improving. There was a small LGBTQI+ community that held events, parties, and training.
After the war, a new surge of hatred toward the LGBTQI+ community emerged, and the number of brutal murders of gays and transgender people increased.
“One blogger said that we needed to be gotten rid of. She shared a video of a birthday party of a trans woman wearing a wedding dress — who was burned alive some time later.
“The killer was arrested, but nothing was done to the blogger. Other activists and I wrote many letters to the state security service and to the European Union, but to no avail.
“After this murder, many gay and trans people in Azerbaijan feared they’d be next. Journalist Avaz Hafizli, an openly gay journalist who covered LGBT rights issues, also wrote about the case. Last year, Avaz was threatened and insulted by transphobic and homophobic blogger Sevinj Huseynova, attempted suicide, then chained himself himself in front of the Prosecutor General's Office to protest the authorities' indifference.
Recently, his cousin killed him, cutting off his genitals and head.
“Trans people are more likely to be killed because they are visible. Many work in the sex industry because they are not hired elsewhere. The killers corner them by being disguised as clients.
“Many queer people left Azerbaijan after the war, or are still trying to get out. Most of my friends have left too because things are only getting worse.
“Over the past year, I've been approached more often by queer people asking me to help them leave. I managed to support some, but we need an organization that can help them leave, as there isn’t any.
“Only those in mortal danger are being helped. For example, a gay couple I know has been attacked three times over the past couple years. And only after the last attack, which ended in rape, were they helped by foreign organizations.”