Gay Honor Killing Inspires Movie…

According to a CNN article, in 2008, Ahmet Yildiz was gunned down in Istanbul. Yildiz was a 26-year old physics student who reportedly received several death threats from his family for his lifestyle. His father, Yahya, is the primary suspect in his death, according to court papers.  More than three years after his sons death, Yahya remains a fugitive and is wanted by the Turkish police.

His death has been widely referred to as Turkey’s first gay honor killing.

But there is a sign of hope, in all this sadness. Three years later, two of his friends- Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay, who have been dating for 14 years- have created a movie, Zenne, based off of Yildiz’s tragic story.  In Zenne, the main character endures a degrading process at the military recruitment center. In the film, military doctors perform examinations and demand photos of the characters having sex with other men.

This is something Gay Rights activists say the military has long practiced. According to activists, “the military has long demanded graphic photo and/or video evidence from men asking to be released from military duty. However, a spokesperson for the Turkish bureaucracy says he has no information stating that such a thing has happened.  According to the spokesperson, a person has to prove they are gay by providing a doctor’s report, according to the CNN article.

In an interview to CNN, the filmmakers made the movie in the hopes of inspiring Turkey, which still performs honor killings, to “debate hate crimes that target victims based on gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual identity.”

Today’s society is largely one of tolerance; however, there are still countries that have a hard time accepting that difference is OK.  Unfortunately, Turkey is one of those places.

But their is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Minority groups, like the LGBT community, in Turkey are demanding equal rights.  They are fighting for what should be an inalienable right as a Turkish citizen. And hopefully Zenne will be able to shed light and show that being different is OK.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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