Stretch your legs to your blanket

"You work for Europe!" - we are beginning to see this sentence everywhere now. 

In the early 20th century, many market systems integrated into global systems through economic and other globalisation processes, and capital became a decisive factor in our lives. The increasingly monstrous market would turn LGBTQ+ lives into toys in the hands of the government, with debauchery, attacks, and pogroms carried out by the authorities, selling our lives on the closed slave market. In the late 60s, the lawless arrests, homelessness, and deaths suffered by queer people exploded in the United States. Queers who were subjected to unlawful arrests and homelessness did not remain silent in the face of the injustice of the processes and took to the streets, squares, media, and later parliaments. The LGBTQ+ movement that emerged in those years demanded not only survival but also representation in every corner of the social and political environment. For more than half a century, LGBTQ+ activism, which has been consolidated and unified by organisation, has made its struggle more resilient in a chain-like manner with many social justice movements.

For years, our institutionalisation, the formation of movements in different titles according to periods and geographies, and the formation of sources that suit everyone's needs have been established by internal necessities. From the 2000s, different titles emerged in the agenda of LGBTQ+ movements in the world and in Azerbaijan. Especially, if we speak of Azerbaijan, the issues of European integration created awareness among people who operate in Azerbaijan, including donors and funds. Of course, in my writing, I am not trying to clean up all the funds and organised platforms. However, I want to provide a starting point for analysing the "working abroad" propaganda, especially for independent LGBTQ+ platforms and organisations operating in Azerbaijan. "Abroad" - in fact, these are achievements gained by LGBTQ+s in those countries as a result of their struggle, which is reflected in the headline "the more you talk about finance." We are considered fascist, transphobic, and anti-feminist in the speech of the right because we show these headlines on state-owned television channels in the form of pouring water on some countries. Women* and queers who now have their own voice in political processes are being evicted and unemployed. When movements are organized against electoral fraud all over the world, they are subjected to the state's hypocritical censorship machine. I am serious in my accusation of hypocrisy, because although we always witness the humiliation and targeting of feminist and LGBTQ+ activists who fight for freedom, we never see this "money-eating" weapon used against organisations and bloggers who speak through means such as Paşa Holding, Azerbaijan Youth Foundation. For example, how is it that feminist activists who protested by pouring red paint on the police headquarters for Sevinc, who lost her life despite multiple complaints, are facing rape threats at the Xəzər Rayon Police Department, while GONGOs* such as Gender Hub, who work with state propaganda, can talk about the mass killing of women and easily enter government buildings? As the state propaganda machines turn their attention to domestic issues, I want to take a step back.

In 2020, the long-standing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted into a bloody war, fueled by the decisions of cisgender-heterosexual individuals. For 30 years, the two sides had been raising generations that no longer saw each other as fellow human beings, but rather as enemies fueled by patriarchal extremism. The slogan "loyalty to the homeland, hatred for the enemy!" became a monotonous chant on the tongues of the oppressed people who were denied their basic rights and social welfare. As a result, the new generations of people who were exploited and marginalised became the victims of this war. Behind this game of thrones, there were people who called for peace and exposed the injustices and war propaganda, but they became targets of attacks and threats even when they spoke out for justice on social media. As one of those people, I have been targeted and vilified for raising my voice for peace on a television channel that has been sold out to the state for two years now. Despite being a signatory to a peace campaign, I was targeted for my LGBTQ+ identity and humiliated on a popular internet channel with millions of followers. However, propaganda machines that saw the rising voices for peace as a threat have now turned their attention to talking about the suffering of women in the war, as exemplified by the words of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.

Let's go back a bit - let's go to the Gender and Development Public Union, which is my wounded spot. Why wounded? Because I have been subjected to attacks and slander just for questioning the organisation. If we continue, the president of the "Gender and Development" organisation, which was registered in 2007, states: "Our organisation was registered as a gender organisation, and everything is related to gender. During registration, I did not hide what we would be doing and they registered us." However, it is no longer a secret that no opposition LGBTQ+ organisation can pass state registration. So, what does this organisation need the state for? Of course, just to manipulate the public opinion and say "look, we do not block trans and LGBT+ people". But the same state institution also says that LGBTQ+ citizens are not a social group.

In the midst of these events or in the background of them, there are no alternatives to the religious extremism that tries to buy everyone with money. When some people cannot be bought with money, they get angry and start their evil plans. We will not be sold.

Author: Ali Malikov

"Minority Azerbaijan" does not bear responsibility for the opinions of the article authors.

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