• Turkish police fire plastic bullets as participants gather in spite of the Istanbul Pride ban, Turkey, 19 June 2016. (EPA)Source: EPA
Photos circulated by the President's press office show the singer sitting with President Erdoğan and his wife Emine.
By
Ben Winsor

23 Jun 2016 - 11:28 AM  UPDATED 23 Jun 2016 - 11:28 AM

Hours after Turkish riot police shot teargas at transgender rights activists demonstrating on Istanbul streets, the country’s increasingly hardline president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attended a dinner with prominent trans-woman Bülent Ersoy.

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President Erdoğan’s press office circulated photos of the singer sitting with President Erdoğan and his wife Emine.

Turkey is known as one of the more LGBTI tolerant countries in the Arab world, but has attracted criticism in recent years for harsh treatment of activists and banning pride marches.

Esroy underwent sexual reassignment surgery in London in the early 80s and has achieved iconic status in the majority Muslim country.

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A range of Turkish entertainers and athletes were invited to the iftar, a dinner marking the end of the daily Ramadan fast.