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Turkey’s gay community fights homophobia alongside COVID-19

Prosecutors have launched a probe into the bar associations that condemned the head of the state-run religious affairs directorate, for claiming homosexuals are spreading the pandemic.
Riot police prevent LGBT rights activists from marching for a pride parade, which was banned by the governorship, in central Istanbul, Turkey, June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC177BE85A00

Human rights activist Ajda Ender was staying at a friend’s house when Turkey announced its first case of the novel coronavirus in mid-March. “At a time when all state authorities were telling us to stay home, I simply could not, as I was in a legal battle with my neighbors, whose harassment and threats prevented my access to my own apartment,” Ender, a trans woman, told Al-Monitor. 

Ender’s case was brought to the parliament’s agenda earlier this year by Zuleyha Gulum, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, who asked the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs to protect Ender from threats, harassment and physical violence from her neighbors and police officers.

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