Two men have spoken out about an alleged crackdown on the LGBTI community in the European country of Azerbaijan.
One of the men, who remained anonymous, said he was detained for nine days and tortured.
“They gave me electric shocks,” he said in an interview with Radio Free Europe.
“They beat me with a stick on my knees. I couldn’t move afterwards.”
As many as 100 gay and transgender people in Azerbaijan have been arrested, detained and forced to give up friends to authorities in the last month, human rights lawyers and activists in the country have alleged.
They say those in detention were also subjected to forced medical examinations and transgender women had had their heads shaved.
Another man alleged he was coerced into confessing involvement in the country’s sex industry, telling Radio Free Europe that officials made him sign documents that “were already filled in” and questioned him about seeing “clients”.
Last month, the government’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said the raids were targeting sex workers, not the LGBTI community.
A spokesperson said: “These raids are not against all sexual minorities. The arrested are people who demonstratively show a lack of respect for those around them, annoy citizens with their behaviour, and also those whom police or health authorities believe to be carriers of infectious diseases.”
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville condemned the mass arrests, and said “any arrest based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is by definition arbitrary and violates international law.”
Homosexual activity has been legal in Azerbaijan since 2000, but human rights groups say its LGBTI citizens aren’t widely accepted in the Muslim majority country.