Between 50 and 100 LGBTQ people have allegedly been arrested and beaten in Azerbaijan — a country between Asia and Europe, NBC News reports.
Activists and local news reports in Azerbaijan claim that police are rounding up LGBTQ people, and especially gay men and transgender women, and subjecting them to beatings and forcible medical examinations and forcing transgender women to shave their heads.
"People are confused," Javid Nabiyev, president of Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance said in a Facebook video. "Everybody have [sic] fear that they might be arrested anytime on the street, and even existence of this fear is big problem."
Police are allegedly holding those who are arrested for 30 days, and forcing them to reveal the names and addresses of other gay and transgender people they know.
Azerbaijani officials told a local newspaper, the Caucasian Knot, that the arrests are part of a campaign to fight prostitution and "protect national moral values." LGBTQ people have been picked up at bars and inside their homes.
"Defending these creatures, who are sources of immorality, dangerous diseases and who have been cursed by God, Western circles trying to destruct of our national traditions under the name of ‘human rights,'" the translation reads.
Being gay was made legal in Azerbaijani in 2000, but according to an ILGA-Europe report "LGBTI people continue to be faced with a near total absence of legal protection.”
Reports coming from Azerbaijani echo those coming from Chechnya earlier this year, which claimed that gay men are being held and tortured in concentration camps.
Read these stories next: