Azerbaijan LGBT Leader Takes Life With Rainbow Flag
Isa Shakhmarli, a leader in Azerbaijan's gay rights movement has reportedly taken his own life, leaving the tiny southwest Asian nation's LGBT community devastated, the AFP reports. He was 20.
Shakhmarli was found dead Jan. 22 after reportedly hanging himself with a rainbow flag. According to the AFP, Shakhmarli was the chairman of Azerbaijan Free LGBT, an LGBT rights group based in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty published part of a note that Shakhmarli allegedly wrote to his friends on Facebook.
"I am leaving you," the note reads. "God bless you. This country and this world are not for me. I am going to be happy now. Tell my mother I loved her very much. I blame you all for my death. This world is not colorful enough for my colors. Farewell."
According to RFE/RL's video report on the story, which you can watch here, Shakhmarli's coffin was covered with a rainbow flag.
Vugar Adigozalov told the AFP that the activist "had bad relations with his family" after he told them he was gay, which may not come to a surprise to some since Azerbaijan's citizens has negative views on homosexuality, as the Huffington Post notes.
Gay Star News points to an interview from last year where Shakhmarli said the LGBT community in Azerbaijan struggled because the country is extremely anti-gay and strict Muslim, and that many LGBT people cannot find jobs.
"Though psychologists explained it to my family, they still call it an illness." Shakhmarli said. He added that family is the most common reason for LGBT people to commit suicide.
"I wish our society was not biased. Before hating, read about homosexuality on the internet, learn about it. Then you can be free to hate after it," the activist said last year. "I want LGBTs to be brave. I live separately from my family in my own house, I have my own job, I can do everything myself. If you want, you can achieve."