09/09/2008 | Writer: KAOS GL
July 21, 2008
Istanbul resident Ahmet Yildiz, 26, was shot and killed last week in what friends suspect is Turkey's first gay "honor killing," the Independent newspaper of London reported Saturday.
Illegal though reported in much of the Middle East, "honor killing" is the murder of someone, usually a relative, who resists conservative social mores. Turkey, whose government has been secular since the 1920s, decriminalized homosexuality in the 19th century but has often moved to punish gay organizations and activism. Outside large cities, distrust of gayness remains high.
Yildiz "fell victim to a war between old mentalities and growing civil liberties," Yildiz's friend Sedef Cakmak told the Independent.
"I feel helpless," Cakmak said. "We are trying to raise awareness of gay rights in this country, but the more visible we become, the more we open ourselves up to this sort of attack."
Yildiz, who had represented Turkey at an LGBT event in San Francisco last year and was known as "Turkey's Gay Poster Boy," may have been targeted after coming out at home this year.
His relatives urged him to see a doctor to be "cured," according to the Independent, Yildiz reported to a prosecutor that he was receiving death threats five months before the fatal attack, but the case was not pursued. When he died, relatives refused to claim the body, friends told the Independent.
Turkish police are investigating.
Tags: human rights