The rape and death of a Turkish transgender woman earlier this month has renewed calls for protection for the LGBT community in the beleaguered Middle Eastern country.
A week after friends and her partner reported her missing, the body of 22-year-old Hande Kader was found in Istanbul August 12, reports BuzzFeed. A sex worker and transgender activist, Kader had been sexually assaulted and her body burned. She was only identified through prosthetics.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but the Turkish LGBT community has struggled recently under constant fear of persecution from the country’s conservative religious leaders.
Turkey also acts as a gateway for many refugees fleeing conflicts in Syria and northern Iraq and seeking asylum in Europe. Barely a week before Kader's body was found, gay Syrian refugee Muhammad Wisam Sankari was reportedly beheaded in Turkey. His housemates also revealed that he had been kidnapped and raped months before he was killed.
Kader was a prominent member of Turkey's LGBT community, and had marched in a Pride rally this summer before Turkish police dispersed the march with rubber bullets and riot gear. Grieving friends and community members have launched a social media campaign demanding justice for the young woman, using the hashtag #HandeKadereSesVer, which translates to “Give voice to Hande Kader,” according to BuzzFeed.
The Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee issued a statement mourning Kader's death, stating that "we feel great anger" at the young woman's brutal death. She "was a person who raised her voice against hate crimes and encouraged everyone to raise their voices too," the statement continued.
Local LGBT groups are also organizing a Sunday march from Tünel to Galatasaray, asking attendees to "raise their voice" against anti-LGBT hate crimes and make themselves visible. At press time, more than 3,000 people had indicated on Facebook that they planned to attend the march.