A group of transexual women said in an interview that the police refused to help them after an assault by four men in Turkey’s western Izmir province on January 17.
Speaking to the Duvar news website, three transexual women identified as Elif, Damla and Ceyda said they were assaulted by four men carrying batons. A man tried to grab one of the women by the throat, and the other two were beaten.
The assailants then threatened to kill them, saying it was not a crime to kill sexual deviants.
“We managed to get away and ran towards the police, who were standing at the end of the street. There were two officers, and we asked for help, but they didn’t do anything,” said Elif.
When they told the police they had been attacked, the female officer told them there was nothing they could do. “The female officer just said she was not my personal bodyguard and that since I worked as a prostitute, I should not expect the state to protect me,” said Elif.
The women told the police they did not feel safe and had been threatened with death, but said the police didn’t take it seriously.
Elif said as a person under threat she was demanding help and as a citizen she had the right to do so, but the officer told her she was a freak and should not expect any assistance from the police.
According to the women, the police tried to detain them for “obstructing the work of a police officer” instead of going after the assailants. Elif said the police did not write up an official report on the attack or talk to any of the neighbors who had witnessed the incident.
“I am a human being, and I don’t want to die in a hate crime,” said Elif. “If one of those batons had hit my head, I would have been killed. I don’t feel safe,”
Hate crimes against the transexual community are common in Turkey. In the last three months at least two women were killed and three were seriously injured in Izmir.
Law enforcement rarely takes complaints from transexuals seriously. One trans woman named Asya, 17, was attacked with acid in Istanbul last year. Asya had gone to the police after being threatened and beaten but the police had refused to help her.
According to activist and lawyer Levent Pişkin, law enforcement in Turkey promotes homophobia and transphobia. “Far from being objective, vague concepts like morality and honor are used to justify a policy of impunity,” he said, emphasizing that the courts downplayed hate crimes against transgender persons.
Hate crimes and harassment are not only directed at the transgender community, as other members of the LGBT community are also targeted by conservative politicians and law enforcement. The government has been using increasingly harsh rhetoric towards the LGBT+ community.
In February 2021 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said there was no “such thing as LGBT” and that the country was “moral, and it will work with these values.” Erdoğan blasted the LGBT+ movement as incompatible with Turkey’s values.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. While there are no official figures, Turkey has slid down the LGBT rights index published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). Last year, it was ranked 48th out of the 49 countries ILGA lists in its Eurasia region.