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The State Department’s 2020 human rights report noted that most LGBT refugees in Turkey were from Iran. It said they faced “discrimination and hostility from both authorities and the local population.”
Fariman Kashani, an Iranian nonbinary transgender activist, shared with VOA what LGBT Iranians have to endure in Turkey’s southwestern Denizli province: “I try my best not to look different when I go to streets. But if you do, they spit on your way. They are not good.”
In 2016, Kashani fled Iran after being expelled from a Tehran university. Despite being accepted for resettlement in Australia in 2020, Kashani remains stranded in Turkey because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
Kashani said “the biggest issue” for LGBT Iranians such as A.R. Was the uncertainty of their refugee status: “They are worried about politics — if Turkey will send them back to Iran or if any country will open their borders.”
In July 2020, A.R. Applied for international protection in Van province, bordering Iran. He soon found himself hounded by similar discriminatory experiences, mainly from other Iranian refugees.
“My only wish is to live like any human being and get out of this difficult situation,” said A.R., adding that he pleaded with the DGMM in February to transfer him to a safer Turkish city.
While moving to a more LGBT-friendly location would be an improvement, A.R. Hopes to ultimately settle in Europe, where he said he would no longer be judged for his gender identity.
“I have suffered a lot, and I wish to have a peaceful life from now on,” he said.