Man whose boyfriend was murdered in Turkey’s first gay honour killing to join World Pride parade in London


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The Independent Online

A man whose boyfriend was murdered in what has been dubbed Turkey’s first gay honour killing will march in London tomorrow at this year’s World Pride parade.

Ibrahim Can, 47, who now lives in Germany, became an active campaigner for gay rights after witnessing his lover’s murder in Istanbul.

Turkish police suspect Yahya Yildiz of shooting his son Ahmet five times in front of dozens of witnesses in 2008, but Mr Yildiz remains a fugitive.

Mr Can, who heard the gunshots and was at his boyfriend’s side when he died, insists Gay Pride celebrations in more liberal countries like England are still an essential part of securing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights around the world.   

He will be joined on the parade by members of Nar UK, an LGBT rights network supporting Cypriot, Turkish and Kurdish people in Britain.

Mr Can said, ‘The situation in the EU has improved because people fought together for our rights. Gay Pride marches are still so vital around the world and in Turkey. They show people in homophobic countries that gay people exist and that we are fighting for equality.’

He added, ‘LGBT people in Turkey, their friends and family members will have to fight too if we’re going to enjoy the same rights as people in England.’

The rise of Pride celebrations in Turkey over the past two decades shows promise, Mr Can said, but a culture of impunity means homophobic attacks and murders remain a constant threat. 

‘The LGBT movement in Turkey celebrated its 20th anniversary on July 1. In 1992 there were 25 people marching, last week 20,000 people joined the parade and it went very smoothly.’ Mr Can said.

He added, ‘We are becoming braver and we are demanding more rights. We are showing more courage and becoming more visible. But it’s also becoming more difficult because we are being attacked by far-right radicals and Islamists.

‘Turks can be whoever they want unless they’re homosexual. Those who take part in LGBT Pride marches show courage and so become visible.

‘The parade in Istanbul was a success but just a week earlier we were attacked at a Transgender rights march.’ Mr Can said.

Last year at least eight people were murdered in Turkey because of their sexual orientation, according to local LGBT rights groups.  

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA Europe) ranks Turkey among the worst countries in Europe for LGBT rights, among Ukraine, Moldova and Armenia.

This morning Mr Can’s hotel room in Tower Hill is cluttered with a dozen placards brought from Istanbul. ‘I have six calling for Ahmet murderers to be jailed and six with my demands [for LGBT rights] written on them,’ he said.

‘Ahmet’s murder turned my life upside down. People were evil to us and now I want justice.’ He added.