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Gay Rights Defender Found Dead In Baku


Friends, Family Mourn Azerbaijani Gay-Rights Activist
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Mourners on January 23 attended the funeral of Isa Shahmarli, a 20-year-old gay-rights activist who was found dead in his Baku apartment of an apparent suicide. (Video by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)

BAKU -- A well-known gay rights defender in Azerbaijan has been found dead in his Baku apartment, the victim of an apparent suicide.

Isa Sahmarli, 20, was the chairman of the Azad LGBT (Free Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) group.

Sahmarli's friends say he hanged himself.

The openly gay activist left a note on his Facebook page.

In Pictures: Friends Mourn Sahmarli

"I am leaving you," the note said. "God bless you. This country and this world are not for me. I am going to be happy now. Tell my mother I loved her very much. I blame you all for my death. This world is not colorful enough for my colors. Farewell."
Isa Shahmarli
Isa Shahmarli

Society in Azerbaijan, as in many other former Soviet republics where same-sex relations were decriminalized in the 1990s, remains generally hostile toward homosexuality.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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