First Training Session of Animation Course | Fem-Utopia

The Fem-Utopia Animation course designed to promote gender diversity in the field of animation and support women’s economic freedom, has held its first training session.

The participants, who are eager to learn and create, were engaged in the first training of the course today. Lawyer Vefa Rustam joined the participants in the session and provided valuable information on women’s rights, equality, and justice.

The training was followed by group work, where the participants presented their projects on gender equality, showing their understanding of the concept and how it could be applied in the field of animation.

The Fem-Utopia Animation course aims to increase women’s representation in the animation industry and empower them to be independent by providing them with valuable knowledge and skills. The course also encourages women to explore their creativity and express themselves through their animations.

The course is expected to make a significant contribution to the animation industry and women’s empowerment. It is hoped that through this course, more women will be inspired to pursue their passions in the animation industry.

The course is set to continue for the upcoming weeks, and it is expected to deliver even more exciting sessions that will enable participants to develop their skills and unleash their creativity.

The Fem-Utopia Animation course is an essential step towards creating a more inclusive and diverse world of animation, where every individual can express their unique talents and creativity, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.

“The biggest problem is not being able to live” | Ali Malikov

LGBTQI+ activist Ali Malikov gave an interview to Türkiye’s Bianet media. In their interview, Malikov talked about the history of LGBTQI+ activism in Azerbaijan and the path it has taken. They also shared their own involvement in activism, the struggles they have fought, and the threats they have faced.

Nafas LGBTI Azerbaijan Alliance is sharing the English translation of an interview that was originally in Türkiye Turkish. For original text, please, follow the link.

  • My LGBTI+ activist friend Avaz Hafizli was killed by having his head and genitals cut off.
  • In Azerbaijan in 2017, nearly 100 trans and gay people were kidnapped by the police and subjected to rape and torture, but no political party or major human rights organisation spoke up for the rights of LGBTI+s.
  • The organisation called “Gender and Development” has offices in Baku and other cities in Azerbaijan and works with the Ministry of Health to monitor the places, jobs, and information of trans and queer people in Azerbaijan.
  • Trans woman Nuray was killed by being burned in the forest.
  • They keep talking, listing human rights violations, and complaining that their voices cannot be heard. When you listen to Azerbaijani LGBTI+ activist Ali Malikov speak, you see similarities and differences with the struggle for LGBTI+s’ lives in Türkiye. It’s a system based on hate speech, attacks, and annihilation. Against it, there are struggles and lives dedicated to existence and being.
  • Azerbaijani LGBTI+ activist Ali Malikov is telling their story.
  • “In 2020, QueeRadar awarded me the Queer Blogger of the Year award.”

First of all, can you introduce yourself?

I’m Ali Malikov, an LGBTI+ activist living in Azerbaijan. I have been actively involved in activism for more than three years.

After co-founding “Femkulis,” one of the largest feminist platforms, with my feminist activist friend, I started to become more recognised in civil society and engage in more visible activism.

Later on, I founded “Qıy Vaar!” (“my dear” in Azerbaijani LGBTQI+ community slang), which was initially a closed queer platform but is now open to the public.

Currently, I work for Nafas LGBTI+ Alliance, one of the first free queer organisations in Azerbaijan. My activities cover LGBTI+ and women’s rights issues. In 2020, QueeRadar awarded me the Queer Blogger of the Year award.

I also participate in organising various events, discussions, and education sessions for creating different communities. I was one of the speakers at the first press conference on “Pride Month” in Azerbaijan.

My activism in Azerbaijan has recently expanded to encompass animal rights and general human rights issues. We are also trying to establish a vegan collective and organise numerous protests against the government’s killing of stray animals in Azerbaijan.

“We participated in a demonstration with our own flag for the first time.”

Can you tell me about LGBT+ activism in Azerbaijan?

LGBTI+ activism in Azerbaijan started to emerge freely only in the 2010s with organisations such as Nafas and Azad. We think that we are very young and inexperienced in this regard. In fact, I am only 18 years old, and yet I am known as one of the “most visible” within the community precisely because I am at the forefront of this movement.

For example, last year, for the first time, LGBTI+s in Azerbaijan participated in a protest organised by civil society with their own flags and banners. My activist friend Cavid Nabiyev and I organised that.

In Azerbaijan, it is impossible for LGBTI+s to become politicised due to the depoliticisation of the people and the system that has become monstrous. This is because LGBTI+s receive no support from those who claim to be in power or from their alternatives.

In fact, when about 100 trans and gay people were kidnapped, raped, and tortured by the police in 2017, no political party, no local or major human rights organisation spoke out for the rights of LGBTI+s.

This police and state pressure was repeated again in 2019, but once again we did not receive any support. In fact, there is an LGBTI+ organisation in Azerbaijan that is affiliated with the government and collects personal information about LGBTI+s by distributing condoms and conducting HIV tests.

This organisation, called “Gender and Development,” has offices in Baku and other cities in Azerbaijan and works with the Ministry of Public Health. Their goal is to keep track of the places, jobs, and information of trans and queer people in Azerbaijan.

While no non-governmental organisation (NGO) is registered in Azerbaijan, this organisation has been established since 2007, and there are allegations that they are involved in sexual exploitation and selling people’s information.

When I shared this information, they tried to defame me by accusing me of “human trafficking,” but they were unsuccessful. It is almost impossible to sustain spaces for us in Azerbaijan. Even our organisation, which has been around for 10 years, doesn’t have an open office. No one even gives us space to use.

There is not even an “LGBTI+ space” where the community can go in Azerbaijan, only underground and a few supportive places exist. My LGBTI+ activist friend Avaz Hafizli was killed by having his head and penis cut off.

In late 2021, fascist blogger Sevinc Hüseynova began live-streaming and calling for the killing of trans people. Trans woman Nuray was burned to death in the forest.

“No one heard Avaz’s voice.”

Avaz Hafizli was organising many protests with the trans community. However, the State Security Service of the Republic told us that they wouldn’t protect our lives because “LGBTI+s are not a social group.” As a result, Avaz’s family and others started to threaten him with death.

At the end, Sevinc Hüseynova targeted Avaz too. Avaz was murdered by having his head and genitalia cut off. However, before his murder, Avaz had organised many protests for himself.

For example, he tied himself to the prosecutor’s office and said that his life was in danger, but no one heard him, and we found him dead. Avaz’s killer was given the minimum sentence of 9 years and 6 months. In the trial, there were many irregularities, and the charges were not written.

Even though more than a year has passed, Avaz’s family has not even allowed us to make a gravestone for him.

In Azerbaijan, you have to be ready to lose everything for LGBTI+ activism. Just the other day, I went to a police station because a girl was beaten, and they mocked me by saying “we are waiting for you” in a sarcastic way, meaning they would arrest me. Even when I was detained at a protest the other day, they threatened to rape me.

“The biggest problem is not being able to live.”

What problems do LGBTI+s and activists face the most in Azerbaijan? What kind of problems do you face?

In Azerbaijan, the main problem for LGBTI+s is the inability to live openly and find safe shelter. When people reveal their queer identities or are outed, they are often killed, beaten, or placed under house arrest by their families.

Even when they flee from home, collaborating police often return them to their re-assigned families. It’s not easy to get legal support or psycho-social assistance for those over 18 or under 18. I only know of two lawyers and one organisation that provides psycho-social support. However, I cannot benefit from this service because I know all the employees (two social workers and two psychologists) on a daily basis as an activist.

There are no supportive shelters available. It is very difficult to do anything because Azerbaijan has seriously cut off funding from other countries. Embassies only “help” with social initiatives to maintain good relations with the government, but I do not trust their sincerity. My biggest fear is being alone because even though we are getting stronger every day, we are becoming more marginalised and ghettoised. I am afraid that I will die, be kidnapped, or be imprisoned before I can voice my final words.

In Azerbaijan, even signing a campaign for peace can make you a target because of the Aliyev regime. For example, even before I turned 18, I was on state-run television and insulted.

Other non-state television channels are banned in Azerbaijan, and only online media is available, mostly controlled by other countries. Another internet media outlet affiliated with the government targeted me because I expressed my desire for peace and called for it during the Karabakh war.

“Azerbaijan is worse off than Iran”

Can you make your voice heard to the world?

Most of our problems are compounded by Azerbaijan’s occupation policy during the Karabakh war and the fact that Azerbaijan itself is not known. In the latest report by Freedom House, Azerbaijan is said to be worse off than Iran.

They have instilled so much hatred in Azerbaijanis that they are ready to attack every LGBTI+ person they see, saying “you are Armenian” or “may the blood of martyrs be forbidden.” I experience these things every day. Even when someone asks me for an interview, I am filled with hope.

For me, being LGBTI+ in Azerbaijan means having my life taken away from me.

“Community Leaders” programme | Qızlar Oxusun

Qızlar Oxusun has announced the opening of applications for its “Community Leaders” programme.

The purpose of this programme is to contribute to the development of community leaders in regions and support their social initiatives related to education issues. It should be noted that during the programme, efforts will be focused on combating girls’ drop-out rates and ensuring their personal and professional development.

The programme, which will last for 3 months, will consist of the following stages:

  • Organisation of training on project management;
  • Provision of organisational and mentorship support for community leaders to implement their initiatives.

Individuals aged between 22-35 years living in any district or village can participate in the programme.

Click here to access the registration form.

The deadline for applications is March 28, 2023.

Qızlar Oxusun project has provided information that successful candidates will be notified about the next selection stage.

Panel Discussion Explores Intersection of Feminist and LGBTQI+ Mobilisation

Fighting Against Exploitative Power and Conservatism

Questioning the Complementarity of the Movements

Inclusivity of the Local Feminist Movement

Proposals for Effective Collaboration

On March 9th, the Baku Community Space hosted a panel discussion on the intersection of feminist and LGBTQI+ mobilisation organised by Nafas LGBTI and Q-Collective. The event, titled “The Visibility of LGBTQI+ Experiences in Feminist Mobilization,” was moderated by Cavid Nəbiyev, a well-known LGBTQI+ activist from Nafas LGBTI.

Fighting Against Exploitative Power and Conservatism

The discussion focused on the fight against exploitative power and conservatism by both feminist and LGBTQI+ movements. The panellists highlighted the institutionalisation of normative structures that make their lives difficult and the hegemony of the system and its discourse on sexuality and gender.

Questioning the Complementarity of the Movements

The panellists – Azad Bəxti, Əli Məlikov, Leyla Həsənova, and Lili Nazarov – questioned how much these two movements – LGBTI+ and feminist movements complement each other. They explored the overlap and divergence of the issues faced by feminists and members of LGBTQI+ community and how they can work together more effectively.

Inclusivity of the Local Feminist Movement

Another topic discussed was whether the local feminist movement is inclusive of LGBTQI+ community. The panellists acknowledged the importance of an inclusive feminist movement and called for more collaboration between the two communities.

Proposals for Effective Collaboration

The panellists representing LGBTI+ initiatives and organisations put forward proposals for more effective collaboration between the feminist and LGBTQI+ communities. They emphasised the importance of mutual support, solidarity, and intersectionality in their fight against discrimination and oppression.

The panel discussion provided a platform for meaningful dialogue and reflection on the challenges faced by the feminist and LGBTQI+ movements in Azerbaijan. By highlighting the need for collaboration and inclusivity, the event offered valuable insights for those working towards a more equitable and just society.

Feminists Pushed by Police During March for Women’s Rights in Azerbaijan

During the recent march for women’s rights in Azerbaijan, feminists and LGBTI+s were pushed by the police, causing some protestors’ condition to worsen. Witnesses reported that the police crowd was pushing and shoving the protesters, and the feminists were caught in the middle of it.

The woman, whose name has not been released, was visibly shaken and had difficulty breathing for some minutes. She was on the verge of fainting when other protesters came to her aid.

In addition to the physical altercation, the police used force to confiscate shutter bombs from the protesters. The use of force by law enforcement against peaceful protesters has sparked outrage amongst feminists and LGBTI+ rights activists.

The feminist community in Azerbaijan has been advocating for women’s rights and an end to gender-based violence for some time. Despite facing opposition and pushback from the government and conservative groups, they have continued to speak out and demand change. The incident during the recent march highlights the ongoing challenges faced by activists and organisers in the fight for gender equality and justice.

Feminist Community Marches for Women’s Rights and Safety in Azerbaijan

Feminist Community Marches for Women’s Rights and Safety in Azerbaijan

Dozens Take to the Streets Demanding Action Against Gender-Based Violence

Rising Violence Against Women and Political Retaliation Sparks Outrage

March Organisers Call for Implementation of Policies and Conventions

Protesters Vow to Continue Fight for Women’s Safety and Rights

Dozens of women, LGBTI+s and supporters of gender equality marched in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, on March 8, demanding an end to violence against women and equal rights for all. The rally was organised by the feminist community in Azerbaijan in honour of International Women’s Day

Dozens Take to the Streets Demanding Action Against Gender-Based Violence

The protest drew a diverse crowd of women, LGBTI+s and supporters of gender equality. Participants held up signs and chanted slogans calling for an end to violence against women, the implementation of policies to improve social welfare and financial support for women from vulnerable groups, and the adoption of the Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

Rising Violence Against Women and Political Retaliation Sparks Outrage

The organisers of the march cited a surge in violence against women in the country, with news of the murder of 11 women reported in the media in February alone. In addition, many women are subjected to various forms of violence by the patriarchy, with nine women experiencing physical violence and eight women targeted for murder attempts in February. Women and minors also face political retaliation, putting their lives in danger.

March Organisers Call for Implementation of Policies and Conventions

The rally aimed to raise awareness about the systematic violence and femicides against women in Azerbaijan and put pressure on the government to adopt the Istanbul Convention. The organisers called for the implementation of policies and programs to improve the financial support of women from vulnerable groups and ensure equal rights for everyone regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

Protesters Vow to Continue Fight for Women’s Safety and Rights

The “8 March – We Want to Live!” march drew attention on social media, with some expressing support for the protesters and their demands for equal rights and an end to violence against women. However, many were disapproving, and mentioning government’s narrative “there is no violence against women in Azerbaijan”. The organisers of the march have pledged to continue their fight until their demands are met and women can live safely and free from violence in Azerbaijan.

“Queers are Awake and, United with Feminists We Stand”

A poster that reads “Kuirlər Oyaqdır, Feminist Hərəkata Dayaqdır” was hung over a bridge located in Baku’s Central Park. The poster, which translates to “Queers are Awake and, United with Feminists We Stand,” has garnered attention and pointed out a necessary conversation about LGBTQ+ rights and feminism in Azerbaijan.

The poster was hung in the lead-up to International Women’s Day on March 8th, which has become a day of activism and protests for feminist movements around the world. In Azerbaijan, feminist groups have been organising demonstrations and marches for the past several years to draw attention to the systemic violence and discrimination that women face in the country.

The poster’s message is especially significant in Azerbaijan, where the LGBTQ+ community faces significant social stigma and legal discrimination. 

Queers are Awake
Photo: Ulviyya Ali/Femkulis

LGBTQ+s face an epidemic level of harassment and discrimination in various aspects of their lives, including in employment, housing, and healthcare. The country does not have any legal recognition or protection for LGBTI+s, and there have been reports of violence and abuse against LGBTQ+ community.

The poster has sparked both support and opposition from the public. Some have praised the message for its advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and feminism, while others have criticised it as promoting “immorality” and “deviance.”

The poster’s placement in Central Park, a popular public space in the heart of Baku, has made it highly visible. The message serves as a reminder that the fight for gender and sexuality equality is ongoing and that marginalised groups deserve to have their voices heard.

As Azerbaijan prepares for International Women’s Day, the poster serves as a call to action for activists and supporters of feminist and LGBTQ+ rights to continue pushing for progress and advocating for marginalised communities.

Baku City Executive Power Considered the March to be Purposeless

The Baku City Executive Power has responded to the notification letter sent by the organising committee of the “8 March – We Want to Live” march, stating that they do not consider the march to be purposeful.

The organising committee of the march had previously sent a letter to the executive power to inform them about the march, which is scheduled to take place on March 8th.

In response, the Baku City Executive Power stated that they did not see the march as serving a purpose. However, the organising committee of the march has asserted their constitutional right to assembly and has vowed to proceed with the march regardless of the executive power’s response.

In a statement posted on the march’s Facebook page, the organising committee reiterated their intention to exercise their right to freedom of assembly, stating that “it is our fundamental right!”.

The “8 March – We Want to Live” march has been an annual event for the past five years, with feminists using the occasion of International Women’s Day to highlight issues facing women in Azerbaijan, including violence, discrimination, and inequality.

Despite the executive power’s response, the organising committee of the march remains determined to proceed with the event and make their voices heard.

Feminists Answered to FAQs | Video

The “8 March – We Want to Live” march, organised by feminists in Azerbaijan, is set to take place on March 8th, International Women’s Day. This march has been an annual event for the past five years and aims to highlight the issues faced by women in the country.

The organisers of the march have released a video published on Fem-Utopia feminist initiatives YouTube channel, answering some frequently asked questions about the event. The video statement highlights the reasons why this march is being organised.

One of the main reasons is the alarming rate of violence against women in Azerbaijan. In February of this year alone, news of the murder of 11 women was reported in the media, with many others subjected to various forms of violence by the patriarchy. The organisers of the march demand that the safety of women’s lives be ensured, that crimes against women be investigated and perpetrators held accountable, and that policies be implemented to improve the social welfare of citizens.

Another reason for the march is the worsening financial situation in the country. The feminists point out that financial well-being has sharply deteriorated since the end of 2022 and into 2023, with rising prices and social insecurity. This situation makes women more dependent and prevents them from escaping the violent environment. The organisers demand the implementation of programs for the financial support of women from vulnerable groups.

The march also aims to combat political retaliation against women. In February, a large number of women were targeted in political retaliation, putting their lives in danger. The organisers demand an immediate end to the use of political revenge against women.

Furthermore, the organisers advocate for the adoption of the Istanbul Convention, which aims to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.

The video statement also highlights the importance of removing all barriers for women’s networking, unity, and struggle, and ensuring equal rights for everyone regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

The march will start from Nizami Street, in front of McDonald’s, and will end in front of the “Xurshidbanu Natavan” statue. The organisers have emphasised that the march will be considered over once the statement is read out.

“Visibility of LBT+ Women/Women’s Socialisation in Feminist Mobilization”

Nafas LGBTI Azerbaijan Alliance and Q Collective have announced a panel discussion on “Visibility of LBT+ Women/Women’s Socialisation in Feminist Mobilization”, inviting the public to participate.

The panel discussion will be held on March 9, 2023, at 18:00 at the Baku Community Space located at SAT Plaza, 133 Bashir Safaroglu Street. Azad Bakhti, Ali Malikov, and Leyla Hasanova will be the guests of the discussion, and Cavid Nabiyev will moderate the event.

The event aims to discuss the issues and challenges faced by LBT+ women and women’s socialisation in feminist mobilisation. The panellists will share their views and experiences on the topic, and the participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in the discussion.

Those interested in participating in the event can register through the provided link

The organisers hope to provide a platform for a constructive discussion and contribute to increasing awareness of the issues faced by LBT+ women and women’s socialisation in Azerbaijan.