Turkey: Trans Pride demonstrators vow to ‘keep on fighting’

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Protesters on Turkey’s 5th annual Trans Pride march, which was hosted in Istanbul this week, have promised to “keep on fighting” against the country’s “corrupt regime”.

The march, held on 22 June, comes ahead of Istanbul’s 22nd Gay Pride Week, which runs from 23 to 29 June. Last year’s Pride attracted tens of thousands of protestors.

Protesters marched from the front of the French Embassy along Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue to Tünel Square. Police prevented demonstrators from meeting in Taksim Square, Istanbul’s major tourist and leisure district, which since May 2013 has been the site of major political protests.

In a press statement, the group vowed to “protect gay pride on the streets, in the parks and prisons”, and demanded changes to legislation on gay employment rights, hate crimes and sex work.

Same-sex relations have been legal in Turkey since 1858 but civil rights laws do not cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

Turkish mayoral elections earlier this year saw four candidates enter office after signing an LGBT-friendly municipality protocol.

Nevertheless, the lack of laws protecting LGBT minority groups has led to harassment and hate crimes.

Çağla Joker, a 26-year-old transgender woman, was murdered in Istanbul in April this year, in the latest in a series of transphobic attacks.

Last summer, the Greek Transgender Support Organisation (GTSA) called on the Turkish Government to respond to a string of violent attacks on transgender women.

In 2012, changes to the military code introduced homosexuality as a possible condition for expulsion from the Turkish army, which has compulsory military service.