Outspoken trans rights activist Hande Kader was raped, burned and killed, becoming the latest tragedy in a pattern of anti-LGBTI hate crimes in Turkey.
Hande Kader — the 23-year-old trans rights activist and sex worker who confronted police and faced down water cannons during 2015 Gay Pride in Istanbul — was raped and burned to death under mysterious circumstances.
While it’s beyond doubt that Kader’s murder is a hate crime, details about what happened are sparse.
According to sources, Kader was last seen getting into the car of a client. Her body was discovered in Zekeriyaköy, an upscale neighborhood in Taksim, a city with a reputation for being a hotbed of LGBTI protests.
Kader’s death is the most recent in a pattern of anti-LGBTI killings in Turkey, sources also report, such as the murder of Muhammad Wisam Sikari, a gay Syrian refugee who, within a year of living in Turkey, was beheaded; and Özgecan Aslan, who, like Kader, was raped, burned and murdered in 2015.
Kader was a passionate LGBTI activist who was outspoken about mistreatment and trauma of trans folks and searching for a path out of doing sex work for a living.
Friend Davut Dengiler, speaking with BBC News, remembers Kader as someone who internalized the suffering of the whole LGBTI community. “She would go crazy when trans individuals were killed,” he said. “She’d be so sad … She had been stabbed and beaten before,” so was effortlessly able to step into the shoes of others who faced abuse.
Kader’s untimely death has become a lightning rod for shedding light on years-long discrimination against the LGBTI community in Turkey, whose government has a gruesome track record in its dealings with trans individuals. The conservative country ranks among the highest in anti-trans killings, according to Transgender Europe report.
Outraged activists have created the #HandeKadereSesVer hashtag (which stands for “give voice to Hander Kader”) in her honor and puts every anti-LGBTI government of the world on notice.