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updated: 10/3/2017 1:59 PM

Azerbaijan denies cracking down on LGBT people

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BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Authorities in Azerbaijan are rejecting accusations of a crackdown on gay and transgender people in the ex-Soviet nation.

The Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General's office said in a joint statement Tuesday that raids in the capital, Baku, targeted those accused of offering unsolicited sexual services, violating public order and spreading infectious diseases.

They said that all 83 people detained on Sept. 15-30 have been freed from custody, but 32 diagnosed with having sexually transmitted diseases were sent for medical treatment. They said that 12 of them were diagnosed with HIV, of whom six had developed AIDS.

The statement followed accusations from human rights groups, which accused Azerbaijani authorities of cracking down on LGBT people. Homosexuality was decriminalized in majority-Muslim Azerbaijan in 2000, but animosity toward LGBT people remains strong.

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