The murder of Hande Kader, a Turkish trans woman and LGBT activist, has led to calls for justice and more effort to protect LGBT persons.
Kader, who gained fame in Turkey’s LGBT community after participating in pride parade demonstrations last year, was found dead on August 8, France24 reported. The body, which was discovered along the road in the high-end Zekeriyakoy neighborhood, had reportedly been mutilated and burned.
According to the Daily Mail, Kader was burned alive. However, the Daily Sabah reported that it is likely the suspect or suspects mutilated and burned Kader’s corpse to avoid being traced by investigators.
Kader’s body was reportedly identified by her boyfriend and other friends.
Authorities are yet to make an arrest or name any suspects in the case. Kader, who is said to have worked as a sex worker to make ends meet, was last seen entering a car in Istanbul, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
LGBT activists in Turkey have noted that Hande Kader’s murder highlights the widespread homophobia in the country. While homosexuality is not legally banned in the country, it is frowned upon culturally and religiously.
Turkish LGBT activists have accused the media of failing to cover the story of Kader’s death.
“We are being murdered, and they do not hear our voices, because the rules in Turkey don’t protect us,” Emirhan Deniz Celebi, the director of a Turkish LGBT organization, said.
A joint statement released by Turkish LGBT organizations called for justice for Hande Kader and other LGBT persons killed in the country, the Mirror reported.
“We are constantly shouting at LGBTI+Prides, TransPrides, and other protests that homophobic and transphobic statements are leading to hate crimes, murderers often escape unpunished, and hate crime laws are urgent,” the statement said.
Turkey’s two main parties have even joined in on the debate. In the country’s parliament this week, a statement was read out calling for legal protection for LGBT persons, according to Hurriyet Daily News. In the statement, Turkish politicians admitted that many crimes against LGBT persons in the country have gone unpunished.
Some Turkish activists have voiced fears for the security of LGBT persons in the country following the recent abortive coup. Turkish lawyer and LGBT activist Levant Piskin noted that LGBT people in Turkey feel vulnerable, France24 reported.
“Actually, LGBT people in Turkey have never had legal rights,” he said.
Hande Kader is not the first LGBT person to make the headlines in Turkey this month under such circumstances. Earlier, gay Syrian refugee Muhammed Wisam Sankari was found beheaded in Istanbul a few days after he was reported missing, The Guardian reported.
Sankari, who fled to Turkey from war-torn Syria last year, is said to have been planning to also leave Turkey because he feared for his life after being kidnapped and raped. So far, no suspect has been identified, and no arrests have been made in connection with Sankari’s murder.
LGBT activists in Turkey plan to take to the streets on Sunday to protest against the death of Kader and call for more to be done to ensure their safety. The demonstration is scheduled to take place in downtown Istanbul.
LGBT pride parades have been banned in Turkey for two years now due to security concerns. Last year, Hande Kader was one of the protesters who defied security forces to demonstrate as authorities sought to break up their parade. She was reportedly arrested during the stand-off.
[Photo by Hussein Malla/AP Images]