Twenty-four-year gay journalist and activist Avaz Shikhmammadov, better known as Avaz Hafizli, was brutally murdered in Azerbaijan last month.
Trigger Warning: This story has details of a brutal homophobic murder, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
Hafizli was an employee of the online news portal Kanal 13 and was a well known out journalist in the country.
In a statement, the prosecutor said that Hafizli was stabbed to death by his cousin due to a personal dispute and the police were investigating the case. Lili Nazarov, a fellow queer activist posted on Twitter that Hafizli was beheaded and his genitals were cut off by his assailant.
Death Blamed On Homophobia In Azerbaijan
The local LGBTQI community mourned Hafizli’s death blamed it on the pervasive homophobia and transphobia in Azerbaijan society and authorities failing to properly investigate hate crimes.
The culprits of this death are the society, the Azerbaijani government and state security agencies.
Despite the fact that we reported every incidence to the police, they never considered the complaints, even terminating it arbitrarily, never punishing the perpetrator↩️
— Lili Nazarov (@lilinazarov) February 22, 2022
“The culprits of this death are the society, the Azerbaijani government and state security agencies. Despite the fact that we reported every incidence to the police, they never considered the complaints, even terminating it arbitrarily, never punishing the perpetrator,” Nazarov posted on Twitter.
Hafizli Championed The Cause of LGBTQI Community
Avaz Hafizli was a young journalist and LGBTI+ activist in Azerbaijan, and he was brutally murdered by a family member yesterday in a suspected homophobic killing. He was buried this morning. Say his name, tell his story: may he rest in power. 🖤 #AvazHafizli pic.twitter.com/q2ZDPq9AwJ
— EuroPride • EPOA (@EuroPride) February 23, 2022
Hafizli was well known in the community for championing the cause of the LGBTQI community. Malikov in an obituary recalled that Hafizli’s reportage on the attacks on the trans community had helped focus the mainstream media’s attention on the issue.
#AvazHafizli,the reporter of #Kanal13 internet channel, also #LQBT activist has been killed, allegedly by his cousin. 5 month before he had chained himself to the lattice of Chief Prosecutors' Office protesting the threats to LGBT community in #Azerbaijan. @prokurorluq pic.twitter.com/7OmXCVs6Kc
— Leyla Mustafayeva (@LeylaMustafaeva) February 22, 2022
Five months before his murder, Hafizli had chained himself to the gates outside the Chief Prosecutors’ Office to protest threats to LGBTQI community. Malikov said that Hafizli had even unfurled a rainbow flag in front of the Presidential administration.
ILGA-Europe has consistently rated Azerbaijan as one of the worst countries in Europe for LGBTQI rights.
If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.
For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.