It was never safe to be an LGBTQ* person in Azerbaijan – if you were openly gay, you have no protection from violence or abuse, you can be an outcast from your community and your family.
Although there are social services and organisations that work to protect the LGBTQ* communities, they cannot find official recognition – meaning they cannot apply for public funds or international aid.
It is only in recent years however, that police will walk up to men on the street and ask for identification based on the perception that “you look gay.”
In the beginning of this summer, Leyla Ali came up with the idea of drawing portraits of members of the LGTBQ* community of Azerbaijan.
You can read their stories here.