Erdogan shares Ramadan dinner with celebrities

President Erdogan accompanied by his wife shares Ramadan dinner with transgender celebrity Bulent Ersoy, hours after Istanbul anti-riot police disperse an LGBT rally.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shares a Ramadan dinner with Turkey's best-known transgender celebrity in Istanbul.

Updated Jun 29, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shared Ramadan dinner on Monday evening with a number of famous celebrities including Turkey's well-known transgender actress Bulent Ersoy, hours after Istanbul anti-riot police dispersed a rally staged by a transgender community.

Photographs released by the office of the President on Monday, showed Erdogan accompanied by his wife sharing Iftar, a traditional meal at the end of the Muslim fasting day, with Ersoy, better known as 'The Diva' in Turkey, at the official presidential residence in the Istanbul suburb of Tarabya.

Ersoy, 64, underwent sex reassignment surgery in London in the 1980s. She became a celebrity but also faced verbal and even physical attacks at home.

Speaking on the occasion, Erdogan said the artists and athletes will help build the country's cultural and sports infrastructure to carry Turkey to its 2023 goals. 

Earlier on Sunday, Istanbul anti-riot police dispersed a "Trans Pride" rally taking place during the Muslims’ fasting month of Ramadan.

A man holds a rainbow flag during an LGBT rally in Istanbul.

Several hundred anti-riot police surrounded the Taksim Square - where demonstrations have been banned since major anti-government protests in 2013 - to stop the protest from taking place.

Turkish anti-riot police officers disperse demonstrators gathered for a rally staged by the LGBT community on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on June 19, 2016.

Istanbul authorities said on Friday they had banned the annual gay pride parade set for June 26 to "safeguard security and public order" after a string of bombings around Turkey over the past year, some of them blamed on DAESH and PKK terrorists.

Earlier this month, an explosion targeted a police bus in Istanbul’s Veznicler district, killing 11 people and leaving 36 others injured.

Erdogan has faced criticism in the past for his comments on family planning from western media, but has generally steered clear of publicly commenting on gay issues.