MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) – A prominent gay rights activist in the former Soviet nation of Azerbaijan has committed suicide, according a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Thursday.
Isa Shakhmarli, 20, was one of the founders of the Free LGBT Azerbaijan Organization, a rare advocacy group for the rights of the LGBT community in the majority-Muslim country on the Caspian Sea.
Shakhmarli reportedly hanged himself with a rainbow flag, and left a message saying he could not bear to continue living in “this country and this world,” police said, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.
Few people are openly gay in Azerbaijan, a strongly traditional society where homosexuality is stigmatized.
The hosting of the Eurovision song competition, which has a large gay following, in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku in 2012 drew international attention to the open hostility face by homosexuals in the country.
A message posted to the Facebook page of the Free LGBT Azerbaijan Organization on Thursday asked those attending Shakhmarli’s funeral to wear colorful clothes.