Via Narratively – When you’re queer in the Middle East, escaping war doesn’t mean you’ve escaped the people who want you dead.
“Turkey is now home to around 3.6 million Syrian refugees. In 2015, there were approximately 400 self-identified LGBTQ Syrian refugees in Turkey, according to the Organization for Refugee, Asylum & Migration. The actual number is likely much higher because many are too afraid to speak out. They are accompanied by LGBTQ asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq, and other countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Homosexuality is illegal in many of these countries—even punishable by death in some—but legal in Turkey, making Istanbul a beacon for queer refugees.
“At the bottom of one of Istanbul’s many hills, along a windy road lined with mosques, barber shops and tea gardens, is Istanbul’s only shelter for LGBTQ refugees. Not far from ancient Byzantine walls, Aman LGBT Shelter currently houses 14 LGBTQ refugees, the majority of them from Syria.