'Honor killing' targets Turkey's LGBTs
Father accused of murdering gay son still on the run as new cases emerge.
Jodi Hilton October 12, 2011 06:14
“Many men and women are murdered by their families, but no one asks about them. The homophobic state is doing nothing to solve these murders.”
ISTANBUL – On the walls of buildings and along the back alleys of the trendy Tunel neighborhood here in an old part of the city, graffiti art of a ruggedly handsome man with a beard and gentle eyes first began appearing in 2008.
Three years later the black-and-white image, drawn by a renowned Japanese manga named Gengoroh Tagame and carrying the slogan “Ahmet Yildiz is My Family” has become ubiquitous.
An international community of friends, activists and civil rights supporters have posthumously adopted Ahmet Yildiz as a brother and as a cause, they say, after his father killed him for being gay.
“Ahmet’s so-called family killed him,” reads a blog established in the wake of his death. “Fortunately, he still has a real one: Us.”
Ahmet’s father, Yahya Yildiz, stands charged with murder after traveling 600 miles, allegedly hunting his son down and then shooting him five times on July 15, 2008. It is viewed as the country’s first reported anti-gay “honor killing.” And critics say that after three years, a pattern of indifference by the police in prosecuting the crime underscores the injustice.
The long history of “honor killing” against women and girls is well documented in the Middle East and elsewhere.
But LGBT activists in Turkey and around the world say homosexuals are now increasingly targeted. They fear that a series of attacks targeting gay and transgendered Turks is a backlash against the LGBT community’s rising profile in a country where the official stance on homosexuality is that it is an “illness.”
Honor crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are hard to document in Turkey. Human rights advocates say they are often quietly covered up by families and that police often avoid investigating such crimes. The Yildiz murder has been closely watched by activists and now a new case of “honor killing” is drawing considerable attention.
On October 7, Fevzi Cetin, 27, turned himself in to police after shooting and killing his transgendered brother Ramazan Cetin, 24.
Unlike the family of Ahmet Yildiz, which thus far has not taken public responsibility for his death, Cetin was quite direct. “I killed my brother because he was engaged in transvestitism,” he said. “I cleansed my honor.”
Turkey’s human rights record has continually dogged the country’s attempts to gain admission to the European Union. In particular Human Rights Watch has criticized Turkey’s record on protecting its citizens against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. But the Turkish government continues to turn a deaf ear.
An official in the office of the Minister of Family and Social Policies, which is tasked with reducing discrimination and implementation of social policy, declined GlobalPost’s request for an interview about the purported rise in gay “honor killing,” citing Minister Fatma Sahin’s “full schedule nowadays.”