LGBTI organizations assessed 2014 for the Rainbow

Representatives from LGBTI associations assessed 2014 for the movement against homophobia and transphobia.

Source: “LGBTI örgütleri gökkuşağının 2014’ünü değerlendirdi”, (“LGBTI organizations assessed 2014 for the Rainbow”), Kaos GL, January 20, 2015, 

Representatives from LGBTI organizations [from various cities in Turkey] assessed the year 2014 for LGBTI people at an Advisory Committee meeting organized by the Pink Life Association for “The Rainbow Coalition Against Discrimination,” a project run jointly by Kaos GL and Pink Life.

“LGBTI movement spread locally in 2014”

Evren Çakmak, Kaos GL: It is easy to define 2014 as the post-Gezi year. 2014 is a very important year for the LGBTI movement. We have seen developments on all topics and fields we have been working on. 13 new LGBTI initiatives have begun. Geographically, the movement has spread to the local levels. Various communication channels have been established among local organizations. The energy that was formed last year seems to be tilting towards institutionalization in the second half of 2014, in the summer and beyond.

Tuna Şahin, Mersin 7Renk [Mersin 7 Colors]: 2014 was a year that the LGBTI movement gained strength in the local context of Mersin province. There were positive ramifications of the work on local governance. The violence and discrimination faced by trans women since 1992 was invisible. In 2014 we succeeded in making visible the transphobic violence we face. The visibility of attacks and police violence against members of our association, and of gang formation in our community has deterred gang formation today. For our friends working in the Yenişehir region, the visibility of violence has prevented more violence. Cops are not as violent as they used to be. Fines and penalties levied as a result of Misdemeanor Law have almost come to an end. The work we have been doing with the Platform Against Discrimination in the local context of Mersin has strengthened our ties to civil society. It helped us build ties to the women’s movement and the human rights movement. We are able to act in unison with the Mersin Platform Against Discrimination which consists of 26 NGOs. Our connection to the Rainbow Coalition Against Coalition also has positive ramifications in Mersin.

Ege LeGeBiT [the Aegean LGBT]: We held our first event on September 22nd. We submitted our application as an LGBTI student group that is feminist and anti-speciesist and anti-racist. This is important for organizing on campus. Our university campus is scattered. Therefore we want to increase collaboration between different campuses. We work jointly with Black Pink Triangle. We consult with Black Pink Triangle in the local context of Izmir on overcoming bureaucratic hurdles as well as gaining strength and empowerment.

İlker Çakmak, Istanbul LGBTT: There were many [election] candidates from Istanbul. The municipalities of  Şişli, Kadıköy, and Beşiktaş employ candidates as advisors. Local governments supported the protest at the Parliament in Ankara. At the same time, Şişli municipality provides support for the LGBTI. They also offer support by allocating venues for our cultural and artistic events/activities. The Trans Guesthouse brought many people together in Istanbul. The fashion show strengthened the Trans Guesthouse. We provide support for migrant, refugee and asylum seeking LGBTI people as well as for LGBTI people from Turkey. What we want to discuss the most is the violence inside our community.

Cihan Hüroğlu, SPoD LGBTI: The work with the municipalities was a result of pressure from the party central office and our friends. We did not go to the municipalities without prior contact with the party central offices. We went to the Parliament quite often, set up connections with the Parliament. As an association we are trying to organize training of experts and teachers. We think it is generally important to access expert training. Other organizations do this already but we as SPoD would like to focus on lawyer training.

“LGBTI families also became more visible”

Günseli Dum, LİSTAG: As the LGBTI became visible in Gezi, we as their families also became visible. The number of cities we visited increased. We began to organize events in many cities. We reach a few families in every city we visit. We have reached about thousand families today. We formed new family associations. We published new books. A Kurdish book is out; Kurdish and Turkish books have been published for the visually impaired. One of the important developments for LISTAG  in terms of local governments has been the fact that even Denizli Municipality which is an AKP municipality accepted us. We did a screening [of the documentary My Child] for the Municipality. This year 2000 trainees will be shown films. We screened our film to guidance teachers at the Imam Hatip schools. We are trying to meet with divinity scholars and experts. LISTAG decided to become an association in 2014. We are getting training to strengthen our capacity as the LISTAG group.

Sertan, Lambdaistanbul: We started an intern program. We asked the Turkish Psychologist Association to put publications advocating reparative therapy on the agenda . We would like these publications to be withdrawn from circulation. The participation in the pride parade was a very positive development. Lambda moved out of Taksim in the summer. We could not find a location for three, four months. So we had to move out of Taksim. We began participating in the City Council of Kadıköy Municipality with our Lambdaistanbul friends. We set up a committee. We are continuing ‘coming out’ meetings with LISTAG. We want to set up a help line for refugee/asylum seeking LGBTI people. LGBTI should not be our only focus, we want to work together with other oppressed groups.

Cihan, Antakya LGBTI: We gained visibility for the first time at the Pink Day event. Individuals joining our initiative are generally students. We screened LISTAG’s My Child as well as “Watch out, there is a Trans at school!” We gave a presentation about the history of the LGBTI struggle. Thanks to the Rainbow coalition we have a solidarity platform as an LGBTI movement. The events last year and this year on November 20th (Transgender Day of Remembrance) helped our activities. The coalition’s local events strengthen us.

Mehmet Ali, Çukurova, Rainbow Club: Our club was approved in November. We will hold our general meeting in the second semester. We will begin our activities also in the second semester. Our bylaws include gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. The year 2014 was a founding process. We will have educational activities and events in the spring semester. In 2015 we will plan our activities in consultation with students from the School of Communication and the School of Medicine.

“To organize and grow as comrades…”

Ozan Uğur, Antep Zeugmadi and Kars Homophobia ve Transphobia Opposition Initiative: We need to be looking at the work we are doing without knowing each other. While we debate becoming an association, I think that it can be a problem to do so without proper institutionalization. As Zeugmadi we are once again taking up the prospect of becoming an association at this time. If we become an association without knowing one another and establishing a relationship as comrades, we would prevent further organizing. An interview published in the local paper in Antep in spring was chosen as the news report of the year. Zeugmadi organized the anniversary of its founding. Yıldız Tar and Ali Erol from Kaos GL also joined. Zeugmadi is continuing with meetings. We have a project against racism and homophobia. We are trying to answer the question of how to organize against racism and heterosexism.

It has been quiet in Kars for a while. But we began meeting with a woman friend from HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] who won a seat on the Municipal council in this year’s election. We began discussing if we can do something with the Municipal Council. We will start screening films again in Kars.

Can, Equal Stripes: We are not a group, but we will complete our application process. On December 1st, World HIV/AIDS day, our stand was shut down. We began setting it up at the campus gate. We are not people with activist backgrounds. We need more solidarity. We are doing some activities in consultation with Black Pink Triangle. In addition, we set up a coalition similar to the Izmir Rainbow Coalition.

Ali, Amed Keskesor [Rainbow] LGBTI: The conclusion of Roşin Çiçek case was important for us. We were in the streets and squares on Newroz [Kurdish new year festival], May Day, November 25th Day of Struggle Against Violence Against Women, and on November 20th [the Transgender Day of Remembrance]. We tried to do as many activities/events as we could.

Gözde Demirbilek, LeGeBiT: For the past three years, we have been submitting applications to become an official club and they are never processed. We organized the third “I exist in Ege” march. Friends from the School of Medicine and other departments have tried to reach us. Generally we have friends come to us from the Department of Literature. After this march, and the applications ignored by the administration, support is increasing. We are also continually holding workshops on basic concepts.

Berk İnan, Trans Man Culture Platform: We started in 2013. We had set up an information bank when Rüzgar Erkoçlar, a model and actor who went public with his FTM gender reassignment with an interview. We think this is important for the purpose of trans men’s socialization. Trans men have begun to do activism and give presentations in local contexts. The visibility of trans men has increased in local organizations. We demand the strengthening of trans men activists. This year during the pride parade, trans men walked unitedly together for the first time. Forty trans men walked behind our sign. They had fun behind the trans flag. Outside of the Lubunya [queer/trans] movement, a mass of men are coming who are not feminist, who have not gone through a process, who want to be proud of their masculinity; we need to tell them the movement’s values. I think that internal education and activities to strengthen the movement are in progress. We empower each other.  Practical needs are met, support is given for the transition. The process works informally, but there are ideas about becoming an association. However we think it is too early for such a step.

Hasan, Antalya Pembe Caretta :  We began Pride parades in local cities and towns. We were 13 marching in 2013. We screened films twice with LISTAG. This year we went to trans people’s homes.  In 2014 we were marching with friends who joined us; we reached 400 in number. We organized workshops. We are trying to get stronger again.

Sercan, Queer Adana: We did two big events. We did a screening of the transman documentary. We did the November 20 events with the Rainbow Coalition. We have great support from Egitim-Sen [Union of Education Employees]. We made contact with a lot of NGOs, and began training/educational work on homophobia and transphobia. We screen movies. We offered a lot of support to the Rainbow Club in Cukurova University when they were getting started. We collaborated with them. We built a network, set up a stand on December 1 (World HIV/AIDS day). In 2014, we decided to become an association as Queer Adana. We want to be an association and undertake more serious work. Our priority is legal support. We want to collaborate jointly with the lawyers we work with. Our goal for 2015 is to become an association.

“Entering the era of pink prisons”

Buse Kılıçkaya, Pink Life: We entered the era of pink prison. The state first recognized trans people through  the lens of prison. One of the important developments was the statement from the Parliament. They established the Dilek Ince clothing bank. Support was given to trans inmates in prison. I think that the visibility of trans men and women has increased. The activities during pride week and the trans men walking behind the trans flag were occasions for joy. I also think it is important that the trans women’s help campaign is ongoing. The legal support given to trans women in prison, the snowball incident* and identity card penalties have been on our agenda. Another important agenda is the visibility of trans writers. Also important is the visibility of trans people employed in the municipalities. We need to discuss the suicides of Okyanus, Figen, Mehtap, and the refugee in Denizli. The associations are left to themselves on the issue of gangs. Pink Life was founded in opposition to gangs. All organizations need to support this process.

Loren Elva, Dersim Roştiya Asme [Moonlight] LGBTI:  [We were] founded in February 2014. We went out to the squares during the election period. We organized the pride march in the Munzur festival in Dersim. That was our first. We were threatened for a whole week. They told us they would not let us march. They organized an assault on our stand. Because there were five hundred people marching, nobody attacked. LGBTI people from Dersim are treated as outsiders.

Emir Çoban, Malatya LGBTI: As soon as we begin organizing, we were subject to police violence. In June 2014, we organized a pride march with the participation of LISTAG families. We are also part of the democratic society platform. We went to Roboski. We are in solidarity with people coming from Kobane. We have a variety of issues in Malatya, we cannot find lawyers. No one wants to take on our cases. We have house raids. Seven houses have been closed down. Sixteen were opened. There are arbitrary arrests. When our friend was walking with their mother and father, they took them away from the parents and took them to the police station. On February 14, 2015, we will convene an anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia Anatolia and Kurdistan meeting.

Tolga Uyanık, Morel Eskişehir: We are trying to set up an equality unit within the Municipality. This platform would involve many organizations. Sexual orientation and gender identity are included in this platform.** In Eskişehir, we have principles of healthy city. These include principles regarding sexual orientation. We are in touch with People’s Houses and women’s organizations in Eskişehir. We want to participate in classes offered in Anadolu University and we want to offer support in the field of LGBTI issues.

Deniz Eren, The Trans Consultation Center Association: We are trying to offer support to trans people during their transition. We are conducting a legal study on Article 40 of the Turkish Civil Code. We will carry out the last part in February in Ankara. We held meetings on how to change Article 40 of the Civil Code. Mahmut Tanal from the CHP[Republican People’s Party] proposed a bill in Parliament. In addition, we are trying to offer support in the form of lawyers and social workers. We are trying to set up a companion system. Drawing on Article 40 of the Civil Code, we are trying to offer social services, legal support and support for the transition process.

Alim, Afyon LGBTI: Today we will celebrate our first month. We have one trans friend. We do not have legal status. Even the school administration did not do anything. We are kicked out of spaces we occupy. We continually get reactions from the school and the public. We got a proposal from the department of childhood development at the university. They offered to collaborate on the topic of sexual orientation and sexual development. We got an offer to collaborate from the Radio-Film Department. We are routinely harassed by shopkeepers.

*This refers to an incident that transpired early January 2015 where police harassed two trans women playing snowball. They were assaulted and threatened by the police.

**Translator’s note: The exact meaning of the original sentence in the transcript is unclear. This is the translator’s interpretation.

This event has been held as part of the Project of the Rainbow Coalition Against Discrimination carried out jointly by Kaos GL and Pink Life. Financial support is provided by the European Union Civil Thought Program.

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