A series of Zoom calls between senior members of the National Council of Democratic Forces, representing opposition parties in the Azerbaijani National Assembly, has revealed strong homophobic sentiment within the group, according to a Mako news report.
Leaked between May 13 and 17, four videos expose conversations that focus on the issue of LBGT rights, with one former MP and member of the National Council’s Coordination Centre, Gultakin Hajibayli, saying that “the number one priority for the West is the rights of sexual minorities, the rights of undesirables.”
The conversation then moved to Ismail Djalilov, an openly gay Azerbaijani journalist who was previously critical of Hajibayli, with a board member of the Civil Unity Party, Rafik Manafli, calling the former a “male whore,” adding that “it’s a pity that Hitler did not exterminate all the gays in his time.”
One member of the National Council, Ganimat Zahid, even remarked in the background that “our meeting is going live, be careful.” The leak has since caused a scandel in Azerbaijani politics, according to the report.
In response to the leak, the Chairman of the National Council Jamil Hasanli referred to the incident as a “cybercrime,” in addition to blaming the Azerbaijani government and state security services.
Hajibayli also spoke with BBC Azerbaijan, in which she said that her language may have been “harsh” and “rude,” and was speaking only of a specific person and "not about sexual minorities."
“I have written an apology in this regard. If someone in Azerbaijan, a member of a sexual minority or group, applied these words to themselves then this is wrong,” she said.
Manafli refused to apologize for his remarks, saying that “I cannot accept his demonstrative promotion of LGBT+ people.” He nevertheless regretted his remarks on exterminating LGBT people, calling them “unfortunate and inappropriate.”