Last edited: December 05, 2004

Azerbaijan Lifts Ban on Sex Between Men

Media Release By ILGA-Europe

Gay activists in Azerbaijan report that the ban on sexual relationships between men in that country has been lifted. A special edition of "Azerbaijan", the official newspaper of the Parliament, published on 28 May, reports that the Parliament has approved a new Criminal Code, and that the President has signed a decree bringing it into force in September. The text of the new Criminal Code is also published. From this it is clear that the old Article 113 (inherited from the Soviet era, and which punished anal sex between men with three years imprisonment) has been replaced with a new Article 150, which bans only forcible sexual acts.

Azerbaijan has applied for membership of the Council of Europe, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is due to vote on its application on Wednesday 28 June. The introduction of the new Criminal Code is part of the widespread legal and institutional reforms undertaken by Azerbaijan in order to bring its institutions up to the standards required by the Council of Europe. These standards include the abolition of laws which ban same-sex relationships.

ILGA Europe has been campaigning for the last 18 months to ensure that Article 113 is repealed as a condition of membership of the Council of Europe. Last month a Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly proposed that acceptance of Azerbaijan’s membership on 28 June be made subject to a specific obligation to repeal Article 113.

Nico Beger, ILGA-Europe co-delegate to the Council of Europe, commented: "This is very good news. Article 113 created real problems for gay people, particularly through extortion by corrupt police officers." Her co-delegate Nigel Warner added: "Since the historic ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the Dudgeon case in 1981 some 22 countries and territories in Europe have repealed laws banning gay relationships. In the whole of Europe only Armenia, the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia Hercegovina and the Chechen Republic still maintain such laws".

The International Lesbian and Gay Association

The International Lesbian and Gay Association is a world-wide federation of 350 national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people everywhere.

The Council of Europe

The Council of Europe’s main role is to strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout its member states. Founded in the wake of the Second World War, it is the continent’s most important human rights organisation, with some 41 member states committed to observing its human rights standards. The European Convention on Human Rights is the most significant of its many human rights treaties. The European Court of Human Rights settles complaints of violations of this Convention.

The Council of Europe is governed by the Foreign Ministers of its member states (who together form its decision-making body, the "Committee of Ministers") and by Representatives from their parliaments (who make up its "Parliamentary Assembly".) More information on the Council can be obtained from its website,

NB: The Council of Europe is not the same as the European Union, which is primarily an economic institution, comprising 15 West European member states

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