Hundreds of protesters in Istanbul, Turkey demanded justice on Sunday after a local transgender activist was brutally killed earlier this month. The body of Hande Kader, a 22-year-old LGBT rights activist and a sex worker advocate, was found mutilated and burned on Aug. 8 in Istanbul’s Zekeriyakoy neighborhood, reports Al Jazeera.
Kader became famous as one of the faces of Turkey’s LGBT community after she sat in front of water cannons when police tried to enforce a ban on Istanbul’s Gay Pride parade. Similar clashes with police happened this year when the parade was again cancelled over government fears relating to a backlash from conservative, anti-gay elements.
According to the Turkish newspaper Sabah, Kader was last seen getting into a car with a client in the city’s Harbiye district in late July. So far, there have been no arrests in her murder.
The protesters carried banners reading “Justice for Hande Kader” and “Let’s fight for our survival” as they demonstrated near Taksim Square. They also called upon their fellow countrymen to condemn Kader’s murder.
“We will not stop until we find those responsible for Hande Kader’s murder,” said Ebru Kiranci, spokeswoman for Istanbul’s LGBTI Solidarity Association.
Her roommate, Davut Dengiler, told the BBC that, as a person who had been stabbed and beaten before, Kader was particularly passionate about violence against and murders of transgender individuals.
“Hande was one of the nicest people in the world,” Dengiler said. “She was very calm normally but also hyperactive…. She pursued a cause that she felt right until the end.”
Although homosexuality is not criminalized in Turkey, it is also not considered socially acceptable in large swaths of the predominantly conservative country. LGBT individuals often complain of harassment or violence.
According to a report released in March by LGBT rights group Transgender Europe, Turkey had the highest rate of murders for transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals among all European countries, with 41 people killed between January 2008 and December 2015. Italy was next on the list, with 33 murders, with Spain and Great Britain tied for third, with eight murders each during that time period.
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