August 21, 2016 at 8:38 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Prominent Turkish transgender activist murdered

Gender Conference East, trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade

Hundreds of people gathered in Istanbul on Aug. 21, 2016, to protest the murder of prominent transgender rights advocate Hande Kader.

Hundreds of people gathered in Istanbul on Sunday to protest the murder of a prominent transgender rights activist.

LGBTI News Turkey reported activists carried a banner that read, “Justice for Hande,” referring to Hande Kader. They also read the names of those who LGBTI News Turkey said had been killed because of hate crimes.

LGBTI News Turkey reported at least two Turkish MPs attended the protest.

Reports indicate Kader’s mutilated and burned body was found in Zekeriyaköy, an upper middle class Istanbul neighborhood on Aug. 8.

Kader — who was a sex worker in her early 20s — was reportedly last seen entering a client’s car near Taksim Square. The BBC reported Kader’s roommate, Davut Dengiler, identified her body at the morgue.

“I was about to leave the morgue,” Dengiler told the BBC. “I felt a sense of lightness for not having found her there. At the last minute, a doctor there said, ‘There’s also a burned body — look at that as well.’ I did. I told them identifying features. They then looked at the computer, at the report. The doctor put his hand on my back and gave his condolences. I lost myself.”

Kader participated in 2015 Istanbul Pride march

Kader’s murder underscores the anti-LGBT discrimination and violence that remains commonplace throughout Turkey.

Police used tear gas, water cannons and pepper spray against Kader and other activists who were about to take part in last year’s Istanbul Pride march.

Authorities in June detained gay German MP Volker Beck and more than a dozen other people who challenged a ban on this year’s Istanbul Pride march. Three suspected members of the so-called Islamic State reportedly planned to attack a trans rights march in Istanbul that had been scheduled to take place on June 19.

Kader was killed roughly a month after members of the Turkish military staged an unsuccessful coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We were shocked by the reports of the barbaric killing of Ms. Hande Kader,” a State Department official told the Washington Blade on Monday. “As we have stated many times, the United States is deeply concerned about violence against transgender individuals, who face systematic discrimination and deep intolerance in many countries in all regions of the world. We condemn any and all violence targeting LGBTI persons. We call on the Turkish government to investigate this murder fully and bring the perpetrator of this horrendous crime to justice.”

PFLAG also condemned Kader’s murder.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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