Houses of trans women sealed over ‘window leaning’, triggers outcry

The trans women residents of Bayram Street in Istanbul’s central Beyoğlu district were notified that their building would be sealed for three months from March 4, allegedly due to "leaning out from the windows."

Bayram Street 12 Platform makes a press statement after trans women evicted from their homes.

Duvar English

Houses of trans women residing on Bayram Street in Istanbul’s central Beyoğlu district sealed off for a period of three months beginning March 4, the LGBTI+ organization KaosGL reported.

The decision to close off the structure is reportedly based on ‘’leaning out from the windows,’’ according to a notice given to the women on Feb. 28.

The Bayram Street has long served as a "breathing space" fostering solidarity and coexistence among trans women, the Bayram Street 12 Platform said in a press statement on March 4. The platform was established following the notice on sealing of the apartments.

‘’Today, we are here to defend our lives and rights against those who blocked and overthrew Bayram Street. Bayram Street is a place of shelter and memory where trans women have lived together for decades,’’ Beyza said, speaking on behalf of the platform.

‘’For years, our street is confronted with the danger of being sealed twice a year. With the sealing implemented today, trans women living on Bayram Street have been left homeless,’’ Beyza continued, adding that they will persist to rebel against ‘’this system that leaves us homeless on the streets and leaves us to die.’’

‘’Even if our houses are sealed, even if we are left to die on the streets, we are here, we will not give up, we will continue our struggle for existence,’’ Beyza said.

Residents of Bayram Street faced frequent detentions

Bayram Street’s residents have faced persistent sealings and legal pressure in recent years. In Nov. 2020, authorities detained 18 trans women, citing "corona measures." On June 28, 2021, following the annual Pride March, three houses were sealed off, forcing residents to vacate within 15 minutes.

In Sept. 2021, the police detained 18 trans women under the pretext of "inquiring information," reportedly entering their homes without warrants, taking photographs, and detaining them. And in Oct. 2022, houses were once again sealed off, resulting in the eviction of Bayram Street residents for a period of three months.

Upon the announcement of the sealing of the apartment on March 4, the Human Rights Association LGBTI+ Commission filed an appeal seeking the annulment of the decision.

‘’In our country, trans women are targeted for political reasons from time to time. One of the latest examples of this is the unlawful administrative action in Küçük Bayram Street, Lawyer Eren Kutluk said at the press conference held at the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association, adding that the closure is a direct violation of the right to housing.

LGBTI+ rights in Turkey have faced significant challenges in recent years, with the community frequently targeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The ruling head of state has disavowed their recognition and has called LGBTI+ individuals "perverts," "deviants," and "viruses," while positioning their rights as contrary to "family values."

(English version by Wouter Massink)