Father & Uncle Suspected of Turkish Gay Teen’s ’Honor Killing’

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday September 5, 2012

The LGBT community of a southeastern province of Turkey is accusing a teenage boy's father and uncle of killing the teen because he was gay, the Turkish newspaper the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The newspaper identifies the 17-year-old boy as "R.A." and reports that the LGBT community in Diyarbakir claims his "rich and powerful" father and uncle murdered the young boy because he was gay and then tried to cover the incident up.

Diyarbakir is one of the largest cities in Turkey and is on the the bank of the River Tigris.

R.A. had been living with a friend's family because he had allegedly "been exposed to violence" by his own family due to his sexuality, the publication notes. But the boy's uncle physically removed R.A. from his friend's home and R.A and his father then got into an argument. His father allegedly ended up shooting him 14 times, then he and the boy's uncle got rid of the body.

Since the incident, which occurred last month, the two men have been arrested for their role in the killing.

A member of the LGBT community told the newspaper that the boy's family tried to cover up the murder.

"The family wanted to cover up the murder which happened one month ago because they were a rich and powerful tribal family," an unknown member of Turkey's LGBT community said. "They wanted the police to hide the incident. We are subjected to violence, but there is no place where we can make a complaint or search for our rights. Police insult and swear at us, doctors make fun of us."

A similar case occurred in July 2008 and has been labeled as Turkey's first gay honor killing. Ahmet Yildiz, 26, was shot leaving a café and was fatally wounded. He tried to escape his attackers in his car but crashed and died shortly after he arrived in a hospital. Yildiz's friends believe he was the victim of the country's first gay honor killing, the Independent reported.

Yildiz was a physics student and had represented Turkey at an international gay gathering event in San Francisco the previous year.

"He fell victim to a war between old mentalities and growing civil liberties," Sedef Cakmak, a friend of Yidliz and a member of the gay rights lobby group Lambda, said. "I feel helpless: 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."

Another close friend, who remained anonymous, told the publication that Yildiz would often argue with his family about his sexuality.

"We've been trying to contact Ahmet's family since Wednesday, to get them to take responsibility for the funeral," one of the victim's friends said. "There's no answer, and I don't think they are going to come." The newspaper points out that, "the refusal of families to bury their relatives is common after honor-related murders."

Turkish authorities suspect Yildiz's father, Yahya Yidilz, of shooting his son five times in front of dozens of witnesses but he has been a fugitive since the incident.

One of those witnesses, the Independent noted, was Yildiz's boyfriend, Ibrahim Can. Since the murder, Can has moved from Turkey to Germany and has become an active gay rights advocate. In July, he participated in London's World Pride parade.

"Ahmet's murder turned my life upside down. People were evil to us and now I want justice," Can said.

Although Turkey is socially conservative when it comes to LGBT issues when compared to other Muslim Middle Eastern nations, it is actually fairly progressive for the region. The country's officials have yet to recognize any form of same-sex relationships.

Gay men and lesbians are prohibited from openly serving in Turkey's military. But transgender people are allowed to undergo sex reassignment surgery. And, unlike most of the Arab nations, this relatively secular nation doesn't condone LGBT official persecution.

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