Isa Shakhmarli, Azeri Gay Rights Activist, Allegedly Commits Suicide With A Rainbow Flag

Gay Rights Activist Allegedly Takes His Own Life, Community Mourns

Members of Azerbaijan's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are in mourning this week after the unexpected death of one of their leading advocates.

As the AFP reports, 20-year-old Isa Shakhmarli was found dead Jan. 22 after reportedly hanging himself with a rainbow flag. Shakhmarli was the chairman of Azerbaijan Free LGBT, a Baku-based gay rights advocacy group, according to the report.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has published an excerpt of a note that the LGBT activist apparently wrote to friends on his Facebook page.

"This world is not colorful enough for my colors," part of the note read, according to the report.

The RFE/RL report also includes footage of mourners attending Shakhmarli's funeral, which can be viewed above. The activist's coffin is seen covered with a rainbow flag and banners.

Close friend and colleague Vugar Adigozalov told AFP that Shakhmarli "had bad relations with his family" after coming out as gay. Azerbaijan, like many former Soviet republics, is generally considered hostile toward homosexuality, RFE/FL pointed out.

Gay Star News cites a 2013 interview in which Shakhmarli revealed that his family still considered his sexuality "an illness."

"I wish our society was not biased. Before hating, read about homosexuality on the Internet, learn about it," he is quoted as saying. "I want LGBTs to be brave. ...If you want, you can achieve."

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit You can also visit The Trevor Project or call them at 866-488-7386.

If located abroad, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) has excellent resources.

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Tyler Clementi

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