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One Baku-based activist, who preferred to remain anonymous, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that authorities were targeting “main streets, metro stations and LGBT-friendly placed like clubs, pubs and bars.” Authorities in Azerbaijan have alleged that those arrested were involved in sex work, although nearly all cases the accused have denied such allegations.
Some alleged they were coerced into confessing involvement in the sex industry.
By the time he agreed to tell his story in July, the cycle of attacks had not only chased him out of Russia, it also followed him to Germany, suggesting that the violence has reached deep into the European countries now offering protection to the victims.
The allegations follow an alleged anti-LGBT purge carried out by authorities in Chechnya earlier this year, in which hundreds of gay men were reportedly arrested, detained and tortured in the conservative republic.
One night in late November, three men walked up to Room 503 at the refugee shelter in Eisenhüttenstadt, a town at the eastern edge of Germany, and started hammering on the door with their fists.
“It officially declares that gays and lesbians are inferior beings,” says Elena Klimova, a gay rights activist in Russia who was convicted under the law in 2014.
At the time, she and her colleagues in the human rights community warned that the law would open the door to a campaign of violence.