Azerbaijani Gay Rights Activist Hangs Himself with Rainbow Flag

Isa Shakhmarli, chairman of Azerbaijan Free LGBT, a Baku-based gay rights advocacy group, was found dead on Wednesday after leaving a suicide note, Tengri News reports:

ShakhmarliIn an emotional farewell note, Shakhmarli asked friends to let his mother know he loved her and said that he had left the door to his flat open. "I am leaving. Forgive me for everything. This country and this world are not for me," Shakhmarli wrote in a message to friends on the social networking site Facebook. "You are all guilty for my death. This world cannot handle my true colours. Goodbye," the message said.

A video posted onto an Internet news site showed medics at the scene trying, and failing to resuscitate Shakhmarli as friends wept in the background. A torn rainbow flag can be seen hanging from the ceiling.

Vugar Adigozalov, a close friend and former colleague of Shakhmarli at the gay rights organisation, told AFP that his family had difficulty accepting his sexuality.

Shakhmarli was 20.


  1. j.martindale says

    The suicides always occur when the family is unsupportive. You can put up with a hell of a lot with family support, which is why the religious leaders who try to divide families over this issue all deserve to gop to their imaginary hell.

  2. says

    Heartbreaking and unfair. A young man growing up in an oppressive environment, and he was out there working and fighting to make things better for others, despite the apparent lack of support at home. May people learn from this.

  3. Mark says

    beyond heart breaking. How many of us know how this young man felt, I know I do. How I wish I could have hugged him and told him he had a friend and ally. While our fight will never be over, it is exhausting at times. I just wish he could have found the place where he could have seen a potential future.

  4. Mike Ryan says

    My God, how terribly sad. Life is so precious that no matter how bad it is we should never ‘throw in the towel’ and give it up. There are so many avenues available to us to change a bad situation into a happy life.

  5. redball says


    Yup. Family rejection is the most dangerous, painful part of being LGBT.



  6. says

    What child shall we sacrifice?

    This is all to often the results when parents of LGBT children hold the teachings of the Church above the love of their child. They are the sacrifice on the alter of their parents ‘faith’.

    ‘This country and this world are not for me.’ Isa couldn’t find enough hope in the world to continue living. I’m so sorry we failed you Isa. Beyond tears.

  7. Felix says

    Gays in those abominable, intolerant nations need to know that despise having born under the wrong circumstances they still have the option (small as it is sometimes) to pursue a refugee status in a different country. Dont give up!!!

    so sad.

  8. j.martindale says

    I think I should make a caveat to what I wrote above. Some families CAN be supportive and young people can still be so psychologically disturbed and disheartened that that may not be enough to keep them from hurting themselves. Nevertheless, I think that unsupportive families may be the most damaging things possible to a young person’s psychological state.

  9. jamal49 says

    How very sad and tragic. The young man fought the good fight against impossible odds but in the end, with virtually no support, he succumbed to the harsh realities of rejection and disdain from those whose support he needed most: his family. Chalk up another pyrrhic victory for the forces of bigotry, hatred, and religious ignorance. May Isa Shakhmarli be remembered and honoured for the courage and conviction he showed in his all too short life.

  10. ShesAWitch says

    This story weighs heavily on my heart. Wherever Isa’s spirit has left to, I hope it is a safe, comforting, wonderful place where he can let his true colours shine.

    I hope he is remembered and honoured, too, Jamal49.

    @ Carlos, I know how you feel. If the ghost were just made out of leftover angry/bitter energy then great, but if the ghost has to be made out of the total of the deceased spirit then I don’t want poor Isa to have to endure any more.

    I curse his oppressors.

  11. FFS says

    How bleak things must be in that country, that it falls upon the shoulders of 20-year-olds to spearhead the fight for LGBT equality.

    So sad.

    Now would be the appropriate time for Rick to chime in with his usual insane ramblings castigating “masculine” gays over there for not sacking-up to carrying their own weight. And yet . . . *crickets*?

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