Facing hate crime in Turkey

Published: May 23, 2008

Facing hate crime in Turkey

A report by Human Rights Watch says gay and transgender people in Turkey are subject to "endemic abuses", and calls on the government to act to protect them. The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford met some of the victims.

"This is my first photograph as a transsexual," a woman tells me, in her flat in back-street Istanbul.

She points to a snapshot of herself with long-flowing hair and thick make-up. On the opposite page of the album, a man with a moustache reminds her how she used to be.

Smoking heavily, the woman – who asks me not to use her name – tells me she grew up as a man in the conservative east of Turkey. She moved to Istanbul in her 30s, where she finally felt able to live as a woman.

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"It’s all I wanted," she says. "I used to dance as a woman and see the image of a man in the mirror and that upset me."

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