LGBT people face ‘tsunami of hate’ in Turkey, once a haven of tolerance in the Middle East

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02/23/2021

Murat has watched for years as LGBT people who face persecution in the Middle East have found refuge in his cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Istanbul. Today, in the face of growing government hostility and vitriol from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the young gay man says he has just one wish: to leave. “Before, there would be a wave of hatred and then it would calm down,” said the 30-year-old computer engineer, his eyes piercing through a haze of cigarette smoke. “Now, it’s been going on for months, turning into a tsunami.” From incendiary government minister tweets to censorship of gay characters on TV and media-led boycotts of LGBT-friendly brands, a growing animosity is suffocating Turkey’s free-spirited LGBT community.

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