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Life as an LGBTQ refugee in Turkey

LGBTQ refugees from Middle Eastern countries face multifold hardships in Turkey amid a rise in anti-refugee sentiment and a persisting social stigma against gay and transgender people.
A participant faces riot policemen wearing a rainbow flag during a Pride march in Istanbul, on June 26, 2022.

Same-sex relationships may have never been criminalized in Turkey as in many other predominantly Muslim nations, but LGBTQ individuals continue to be seen as depraved or deviant by various social layers and sometimes by those responsible for enforcing the law. And with the alarming rise in anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey, LGBTQ refugees face multifold hardships with potentially dangerous consequences. 

Struggles with social stigma, family rejection, war, migration and unemployment were intertwined in the stories of Middle Eastern LGBTQ refugees that Al-Monitor interviewed recently in Turkey, the country with the world’s largest refugee population. They all spoke on the condition that their names and other personal details be withheld.

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