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Turkey president dined with transgender star after clashes at Istanbul pride

Meka Beresford June 21, 2016

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met and had dinner with a transgender celebrity hours after Istanbul’s riot police broke up an LGBT rally.

A group of artists and celebrities including Bülent Ersoy attended iftar with the conservative president and his wife, Emine Erdoğan at the end of a fasting day, according to Turkish paper, Daily Sabah.

Ersoy, also known as “The Diva’, shared the meal at the presidential residence in Istanbul. The Diva had sex reassignment surgery in London in the 1980s and rose to fame since. Now 64, she has faced a lifetime of verbal and physical attacks, but remains an LGBT figure in Turkey.

People marching in the LGBT pride in Istanbul crashed with riot police on Sunday. Over 300 police were deployed to control crowds after the event was banned.

Rubber bullets and tear gas were used by riot police to prevent the LGBT pride event taking place during Ramadan.

The annual pride parade was banned on friday amid security fears after a series of bombings across Turkey. Kurdish militants and the Islamic state have been blamed for the attacks.

The government also blamed security threats following the Orlando massacre for closing down the LGBT rally.

Erdoğan has been criticised by activists with his conservative comments on sex and family planning. He has not publicly commented on gay issues.

Last year’s Istanbul Pride was also forcibly dispersed by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.

When the march was banned, Istanbul Pride’s organisers said it was a “flagrant violation of the constitution and the law”.

In the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May said that Pride events this month would go ahead with extra security measures, following the attack in Orlando.

More: Bülent Ersoy, Europe, Istanbul, LGBT, Pride, pride march, Queer, Trans, Turkey, Turkey

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