Ahmet Yildiz: First Gay Victim of Honor Killing in Turkey? By Therion
The UK Independent reports that Ahmet Yildiz, an openly gay 26 year old physics student was shot as he left a cafe near the Bosphorus Strait this week. He tried to flee from the attackers in his car, but lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Yildiz died shortly afterwards in hospital.
Yildiz’ friends and associates believe he was the victim of so-called honor killing.
Turkish sociologist, Mazhar Bagli, has done extensive research involving people who have been convicted for honor killings. Bagli has little doubt that Yildiz’ death could indeed fall into the honor killing category:
“Honour killings cleanse illicit relationships. For women, that is a broad term. Men are allowed more sexual freedom, but homosexuality is still seen by some as beyond the pale.”
In Turkey it is believed that around 1,000 honor killings have been committed over the past five years. In virtually every case, the victims are young women who have transgressed against patriarchal rules governing conduct. In some cases females have been murdered for the ‘crime’ of having premarital sex. They have also been murdered for falling victim to rape and even for the offense of speaking to a stranger.
Ahmet Yildiz was openly gay. This was an affront to members of his family who believed his lifestyle brought shame on the family name.
Prior to the shooting, Yildiz was pressured by relatives who wanted him see a doctor so he could be “cured.” When he was in the company of relatives, there were continual arguments.
Yildiz openly gay lifestyle even made him the target of death threats. Yet despite the enormous pressure to underplay his homosexuality, he had the courage to stand his ground.
The courage of Ahmet Yildiz is the more remarkable since gay rights in Turkey have recently taken a few hits. As the Turkish gay community has become more visible, there has been a reactionary backlash with gays targeted for beatings, insults and threats.
Istanbul’s largest gay rights group, LAMDA, was forced to close in May as a result of a court order. The court proceeding against LAMDA was initiated by the Istanbul governor’s office that claimed the organization was “against law and morality.”
A former neighbor of Ahmet Yildiz said that his refusal to live-a-lie may have been too much for some people:
“He could have hidden who he was, but he wanted to live honestly. When the death threats started, his boyfriend tried to persuade him to get out of Turkey. But he stayed. He was too brave. He was too open.”