Most people believe that honor killings are only performed against women, but men are most definitely not exempt. When Ahmet Yildiz decided against living a lie, instead choosing to live openly as a gay man, his father stalked him a crazy six hundred miles in order to dole out his brand of justice. Yildiz was shot and killed in Istanbul nearly a decade ago, but honor killings such as these still occur all the time with no end in sight.
One of the issues that makes honor killings so difficult to study or fully grasp is the lack of publicity surrounding them. Yildiz’s murder was the first honor killing of a gay man to find any publicity in Turkey. That doesn’t mean none have occurred in the past–it just means any murders that did occur were squashed and covered up by families or ignored by authorities.
When Yildiz’s father finally caught up to him, he was on his way out of his apartment to purchase ice cream. His father pumped him full of five bullets, after which most witnesses hid inside nearby apartments. One person who did venture forward noted that there were dozens of others who saw the crime play out. Because this was an honor killing, the body was never claimed by family members.
After the 26-year-old’s murder, his father ran away, forcing a trial to proceed without him. At the time of the murder, it forced Turkey to take a look at how and why these types of crimes happen. There are effectively two different worlds colliding within the country: there is the traditional Turkey which values the old ways and customs, and then there is the new Turkey that is quickly becoming more westernized. Families are routinely torn apart because of this conflict. Ahmet was born into an extremely religious family, and his decision to come out of the closet was seen as a steely betrayal, an insult to the family’s honor, and an embarrassment when seen by the community.
Thousands of people die annually because of similar honor killings, but those committed against men seem to remain invisible–as do many others. Even so, those convicted in such murders may find themselves the recipients of a life sentence, which many would say is too lenient a sentence for their crimes.
One of the reasons that the murder of gay men in Turkey might be swept under the rug is the apparent difference to the community as a whole. While a son coming out of the closet might taint a family’s honor in the eyes of that family, it also destroys a societal construct that many don’t want to change: that is, that sexuality is a choice or that homosexuality can be cured. If you come out as gay, then you attack the very nature of your gender’s usual identity for the people around you.
When will it stop? Violent crimes against homosexuals even occur in New York City.