On Monday the Times of London published an article about the concerns gay Eurovision fans have over visiting Baku in 2012. This morning, in a letter to the editor published in the Times, Fakhradding Gurbanov—Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Britain—tells all the haters out there that they need to rethink their assumptions. Here is the letter in full. Unfortunately the Times is behind a paywall so I can’t link to the original article or today’s letter:
Sir, Azerbaijan is a young country and we are proud to have won the Eurovision contest. We celebrate the 20th anniversary of our independence this year, and it’s the best birthday present anyone could get. 2011 is a year of many anniversaries for Azerbaijan: the 10th anniversary of our membership of the Council of Europe, not to mention the centenary of Azerbaijani football—introduced by British oil workers in 1911—which we celebrate next month.
Azerbaijanis would hve been disappointed but not surprised to see your report (“Gay concern over the next Eurovision,” May 16). When we joined the Council of Europe we removed all legislation that discriminated against minorities (by nationality, gender, sexual orientation or religion) from our statute books, and we have never subsequently taken a negative position on these issues in the council’s debates and votes.
We are not an exclusively “Muslim country”—we are a multifaith country with strong Christian and Jewish communities, churches, synagoges, and schools alongside our majority Muslim population, in a state that is resolutely and constitutionaly secular.
I invite all British Eurovision fans to visit our beautiful country in 2012 and we look forward to the opportunity to strengthen the friendship between our countries.
FAKHRADDIN GURBANOV, Ambassador, Republic of Azerbaijan
In Dusseldorf, Wiwi and Vebooboo filmed two journalists asking Ell & Nikki their thoughts on this topic, and whether Baku can handle hosting Eurovision, which is frequently dubbed “the gay world cup.” Watch that footage here.