With an annual gay pride march planned for this weekend and a vibrant gay nightlife, Istanbul, in many ways, is an oasis for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in the Muslim world. But instances of hate crimes, along with sluggish police responses, emphasize that Turkey remains divided on the matter of equal rights for LGBT individuals, a new report from Amnesty International suggests.
Based on over 70 interviews from across Turkey, Amnesty’s June 21 "Not an Illness, Nor a Crime" report documents 16 suspected hate-related murders committed in 2010, as well as widespread discrimination against LGBT people.
Recollections of the 2008 murder of 26-year-old Istanbul resident Ahmet Yildiz provide graphic illustration of intolerance. "He left our apartment to buy some ice cream,” recounted Yildiz’s boyfriend, Ibrahim Can. “He got into his car and I heard gunshots. I looked down from the window. I saw him being ambushed. I ran outside, screaming ‘Please do not die!’ When I got to him, his eyes were closed, but when I shouted ‘Don’t die!’ he opened them for a second, he looked at me and then closed his eyes."
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.