Istanbul court fines bathhouse for rejecting trans woman

Ahmed Danny Ramadan
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The verdict is seen as a step towards greater political and social support for LGBT individuals in this secularly ruled, traditionally Muslim country.
Lawyer Eren Keskin, who represented Ebru Kiranci, a trans woman, in the case, told news website Radikal that this verdict “will give confidence to trans individuals,” adding that “this may make life a bit easier” for them.
Kiranci, who officially changed her sex to become a woman 20 years ago, went to the historical Galatasaray bath on Dec 26, 2013 with a friend to use the facility. Ahmet Karaguney, who owns the 500-year-old bathhouse, kicked both paying customers out. “You absolutely cannot enter here,” he said, “we don’t let trannies here, go to a bath of your own kind.”
Turkey decriminalized homosexual activities more than 150 years ago, back in 1858; it also gave trans people the right to legally change their gender back in 1988. The LGBT activists’ community in Turkey is one of the strongest in the region. Steps towards legal recognition of LGBT rights have been slow but steady.
Socially speaking, the city of Istanbul is rightfully known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the Middle East. While the rest of Turkey is seen as a conservative traditional society, the cosmopolitan Istanbul, split between Europe and Asia, is known for being more relaxed around the concept of homosexuality, making it a nearby getaway for gay men from the region, Turkish, Kurdish and Arabs alike.

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