United Nations officials on Friday condemned the recent mass arrests of gay and transgender people in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia, saying that the authorities in those countries had violated international law by detaining, mistreating and torturing them.
The roundups — of about 80 people in Azerbaijan, 50 in Egypt and 50 in Indonesia over the past few weeks — do not appear to be connected, but United Nations officials said they exposed patterns of discrimination and abuse that also damage broad development goals.
The authorities in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, have detained more than 80 people identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender since mid-September, reportedly subjecting some of them to beatings, electric shocks and forced shaving, Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.
The police resorted to other forms of humiliation, including forcing many of those arrested to undergo medical examinations and then releasing the results or details of their medical status to the news media.
The authorities in Baku said they were acting in response to public demands for a crackdown on prostitution, but lawyers for those detained said that most were not involved in the sex trade and that the charges were a pretext.
All of those detained in Azerbaijan have been released, but some served short sentences on charges of “hooliganism” and “resisting a police order,” Mr. Colville said. He added that “any arrest based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is by definition arbitrary and violates international law.”
Egyptian authorities had arrested more than 50 people in recent weeks on the basis of their assumed sexual orientation or gender identity, some of them entrapped by law enforcement officials on websites and chat rooms, Mr. Colville said.
Two people were arrested after they waved rainbow flags during a rock concert, he said. The flag waving, at a performance by a Lebanese band with an openly gay singer, was shown on social media sites and provoked criticism as an attempt to disgrace Egypt. The police interrogated the two on charges that included “joining an outlawed group that aims to promote homosexuality.”