Kaos GL: LGBTI billboards on the streets of Cyprus once more!

LGBTI awareness billboards are once more on the streets of North Cyprus after the attacks of last year!

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Source: Kaos GL, “Kıbrıs’ta bir kez daha LGBTİ billboardları sokakta!” http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24490 September 1, 2017

The LGBTI awareness billboard campaign we launched last year in North Cyprus was attacked. Kuir Kıbrıs (Queer Cyprus) Association filled the streets once more this year with billboards for equality and freedom in spite of the attacks.

The new billboard campaign prepared within the scope of “Unspoken Project” (“Konuşulmayan Projesi”) was launched in order to call attention to the need for everyone to live as a human, without being othered or discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The billboards bear explanations of sexual orientation and gender identities such as “lesbian”, “gay”, “heterosexual”, “transsexual” and “intersex”.

Transformation of prejudices such as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia is among the objectives of the campaign.

Attacks against last year’s campaign

Last year in November,  billboards which read “Brother Kamil, I’m lesbian” and “Auntie Mediha, I’m gay” were placed around Girne, Mağusa, Lefkoşa, İskele, Lefke ve Karpaz. However, the LGBTI awareness billboards  in the cities in North Cyprus were first attacked and then taken down by the municipality.

What’s the Unspoken/Konuşulamayan Project?

“Unspoken: Creating Dialogue on LGBTI Rights in the Turkish Cypriot Community” (“Konuşulmayan: Kıbrıs Türk Toplumunda LGBTİ Haklarıyla İlgili Diyaloğu Güçlendirmek Projesi”) aims to increase awareness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people in key sectors such as media, education, law and health; in order to struggle against the discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, to create social change and [improve] public opinion and to ameliorate media representation in Turkish Cypriot communities.

Kuir Kıbrıs Association is a civil society movement conducting work struggling against discrimination agaınst sexuality, sexual expression, sexual orientation and gender identity. Kuir Kıbrıs actively works to support LGBTI rights in various fields such as law, education and psychology.

BIANET: Boğaziçi University Presidency Returns ‘Hande Kader’ Fellowship Donations

The Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club had announced that they would grant a student [with the] Hande Kader Fellowship but the university presidency has said that the fellowship was not within their knowledge. The donations are being returned.

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Source: BIANET (ÇT/TK), http://bianet.org/english/lgbti/189274-hande-kader-fellowship-for-trans-students-at-bogazici-university, August 21, 2017

Following the statement by the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club (BÜLGBTI+) on the Hande Kader Fellowhsip, the Boğaziçi University Presidency has issued a statement saying that the donations were returned as of this moment.

Boğaziçi University Foundation (BÜVAK) and BÜLGBTI+ would grant the Hande Kader fellowship to a trans student this year.

A trans student at Boğaziçi University would receive 500 TL (125 Euros) of fellowship for 12 months as part of the Hande Kader Fellowship prepared through the cooperation of BÜVAK and BÜLGBTI+.

The fellowship would be formed through the donations that will be collected. The quota for the fellowship holders was planned to be increased and the 1-year fellowship was planned to be extended depending on the amount collected.

Boğaziçi Presidency: The donations are being returned

“[The] Fund and scholarship which have become the subject of reports in the media stating that a fellowship of 500 TL for 12 months to be provided by the ‘Hande Kader Fellowship’ to a trans Boğaziçi University student  as a result of the cooperation of BÜVAK and LGBTI+ Studies Club are not within the knowledge of BÜVAK and Boğaziçi University Presidency.

“There is no such a fund within the body of BÜVAK. For this reason, the donators and those who would like to donate shouldn’t be misinformed.

“The donations of the donators are being returned as of now”.

About Hande Kader

Hande Kader was born in Turkey’s southeastern province of Urfa in 1993. She was living in İstanbul and she was working as a sex worker.

She was last seen when she was getting in a customer’s car in August 2016. Her friends filed a missing person report with the Gayrettepe Security Directorate on August 4. On August 12, a body was found in Zekeriyaköy. It was determined that the body, which was burned from the waist down, was Hande Kader. Since the family didn’t want the body, Hande Kader was interred in an anonymous cemetery.

A year has passed since the murder. The investigation is still on-going and the perpetrators are yet to be caught. (ÇT/TK)

BIANET: LGBTI Activist Coşkun Detained on Remand Stays in Solitary Cell

Source: BIANET, Diyarbakır – BIA News Desk, http://bianet.org/english/lgbti/189192-lgbti-activist-diren-coskun-stays-in-solitary-cell, 17 August 2017.

Being arrested over “illegal organization membership”, Keskesor activist Diren Coşkun has been sent to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison. Coşkun has been staying in a solitary cell since she refused to stay with men.

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Keskesor LGBTI has announced that LGBTI Amed activist Diren Coşkun has been sent to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison by the prison administration who ignore Coşkun’s gender identity.

Coşkun was arrested during an ID check at the Diyarbakır Courthouse where she went to get password for E-devlet (E-government) on August 14 after being told that there was a definitive judgement against her on charges of “being a member of an illegal organization” and “propagandizing for an illegal organization”.

Issuing a statement about Diren Coşkun, Keskesor LGBTI said “We’ve learned that the Supreme Court upheld the decision during her ID check at the courthouse. She now stays in a solitary cell in Diyarbakır Type D Prison”.

“First of all, we have to say that she was subjected to verbal and physical harassment by the gendarmerie while she was being taken to prison. On the other hand, the attitude of the guards and executions towards Diren is very nice. They address Diren as ‘Mrs. Diren’”, the statement added.

Coşkun was first sent to Diyarbakır Type E Closed Women’s Prison, then she was transferred to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison by the prison administration. Not willing to stay in the same ward as men, Coşkun stays in a solitary cell.

Her cats stay with her friends

Coşkun had made a call for her two cats to be taken care of. According to the information we obtained from Coşkun’s friends, the treatment for the sick one continues whereas the other one stays with a friend of Coşkun. (EA/TK)

Evrensel: Gender and LGBTIs in Alevism*

Source: Ali Kenanoğlu, “Alevilikte Cinisyet ve LGBTI’ler,” Evrensel, 21 July, 2017 https://www.evrensel.net/yazi/79533/alevilikte-cinsiyet-ve-lgbtiler

In prevalent faiths or religions with holy books, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the attitude towards individuals with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) sexual identity is very rigid.

Every year the biggest threats against the LGBTIs who want to organize a Pride March come from the “nationalist Muslims.” As a matter of fact, in Turkey, nationalism, i.e. Turkism, and Islam are not thought of as separate things. Nationalism in Turkey receives acceptance as long as it is united with Sunni Islam. So much so that Turkmen Alevis were not accepted as Turks before the 1980s, and Christian Gagauz Turks were deported in the early years of the republic.

Despite some different approaches to LGBTIs by certain Muslims, such as the Anticapitalist Muslims going against Semawi religions’ approach, the general perception and definition is “pervert, perverted.” Considering these definitions, every mistreatment and attack against LGBTIs and even massacres are seen acceptable and in fact considered as “they deserve it.”

It’s not possible for LGBTI members of the Semawi community to worship without hiding their identity. Because, based on past experience, we all know that they have no safety in the mosque they’ll enter.

In Alevism, however, there is no gender discrimination. In the Alevi mass worship ritual, cem [pronounced as jam — Trans.], everyone is referred to as “Can [or jaan, meaning “life” or “the essence which gives one life” but also used as a name with the extended meaning “dear” –Trans.], Cem Saints” which are gender-free descriptions. There is no gender discrimination in Alevism, however, individuals who fail to comprehend Alevism, make gender discrimination and LGBTI discrimination as they do in other faiths.

Despite many examples, there are still those who couldn’t grasp, understand, comprehend Alevism, those even arguing that women cannot take a “post” [a seat reserved for a high ranking leader in Alevi hierarchy –Trans.] and lead the cem.

A couple of days ago, Alevis Union Federation in Germany made one of the most important statements of recent years and presented Alevis’ approach to jaans with LGBTI sexual identity which was not declared to public until now probably because there was no occasion.

The statement with the title “the ka’bah of our belief is human, its pilgrim is jaan” included the following sentences; “Our association, not only disregards all the common prejudices against LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex) individuals but also does not consider the unwarranted statements based on these prejudices worth discussing. We refuse all the approaches, advocated by conservative fractions starting with the AKP, which make representation of homosexuals in public space difficult. As an association, we do not only fight against the marginalization of the Alevi community. Our belief that brings forth the concept of “Jaan,” instead of the concept of congregation that exists in panislamist societies, rejects every kind of discrimination. The Alevi community whose ka’bah is human, sees everything as a reflection of Haq [Allah, the fair and noble one — Trans.]. Our teaching does not discriminate based on language, religion, nationality, color, gender. Humanity is the most sacred value.

We defend a social order that delivers all the rights extorted from all individuals starting from women, far from male-dominant understanding and rest on the ideal of equality amongst genders.

In addition, we demand the impunity and guarantee of private lives, and an end to social grudge and hatred. At this point, our ground is respecting human rights including all the members of society.”

The approach in Alevism towards gender identities is best summed up by the Sovereign Haji Bektash Veli’s following words:
“In the language of friendly conversation, one does not ask about male-female,
Everything Haq created is in its proper place,
In our view there is no female-male difference,
Flaw and lack is in your view.”

With love…

*Alevism is a mystical branch of Islam whose adherents follow the teachings of Caliph Ali.

KaosGL: The rumour that he was “spreading homosexuality” and the expulsion that followed

Assist. Prof. Çağlar Deniz told KaosGL.org the process that prepared the ground for his expulsion via delegated legislation: “Two academicians who built sentences like ‘I heard you went to a gay bar’, ‘He is spreading homosexuality’, or ‘He is propagating against national and sentimental values with his qualification as a theologian’ about me”

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Source: Yıldız Tar, “‘Eşcinselliği yayıyor’ dedikodusu ve ardından gelen ihraç” KaosGL, July 19, 2017 http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24233

Assist. Prof. Caglar Deniz from the Department of Sociology, Usak University, who is among the academicians who have been expelled via the latest delegated legislation, has told KaosGL.org the process that led to expulsion.

“Even my gender class has been made an issue of investigation”

Graduated from Imam Hatip High School ( religious vocational high school) and Theology, Deniz, who is a member of the Education and Science Workers’ Union, has a PhD in Sociology. Lecturing also on gender, Deniz stated that he had been a victim of mobbing in 2017 at the university:

“I find it unnecessary to say that I have earned a full hundred points at the academic initiative application despite all of the mobbings by the university administration in the year 2017. Even the concept of ‘phallic structure’ that I discussed in the gender class has been made an issue of investigation.”

“After my post on being expelled via the delegated legislation, I received calls and messages of consolation from very different social groups ranging from supporters of People’s Democratic Party, of Justice and Development Party, to Romanis and Kurds, to the religious and the agnostic.”

“My only difference from all the other tens of thousands of delegated legislation victims is my finding out about the content of the FETO (Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization) investigation, gotten prepared by the president of Usak University who is under arrest since December 2016 with the charge of being a member of FETO, my making an allegation about the incident, suing for damages, and demanding an investigation from the Council of Higher Education (YOK) via the Prime Ministry Communication Centre.

“People I asked to be heard in may favour have not been heard”

Deniz explained the content of the file he ‘submitted to justice’ as follows:

“According to the file I submitted to justice as well, I pointed out that I could not belong to any religious cult or community. People I asked to be heard in may favour have not been heard. According to the file that the president of the university who is under arrest has caused to be disclosed, they asked about me to 4 faculty members at the university where I worked for 6 years. One professor said they could not testify because they did not know me enough, while another said that as far as they knew me, they did not know anything about my relationship with organizations such FETO or KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union.”

“He went to a gay bar”, “He is trying to spread homosexuality”…

Deniz shared the testimonies of two people who worked with him only for a year, and who have been lately hired by the president of the university who is under arrest. Deniz narrated the testimony of an assistant professor about him as follows:

“They are saying that I haven’t invited them to a cult or community meeting, that they don’t know me, that we’ve only had tea twice, that they heard that I’ve been to a gay bar. They don’t specify from whom they’ve heard it. They are arguing that the opinion I have formed in them is that I could be a member of KCK, or that I may have formed a relationship with FETO based on self-interest.”

Deniz stated that another associate professor has testified as follows about him: “He says things that are not in line with the official discourse about the Armenian deportation, he propagates against national and sentimental values with his qualification as a theologian, he is trying to spread homosexuality, and he discriminated in favour of two female students as the Erasmus coordinator.” Deniz also added:

“It has not been specified where and when these have been said and what happened. They have not explained how I propagated against national and sentimental values with my qualification as a theologian. I am guessing that with ‘he is trying to spread homosexuality’, they are referring to something in relation to my gender class. In the allegation that I discriminated as the Erasmus coordinator, there is no mention of who these students are, or how I discriminated in favour of them.”

“Investigation with allegations that do not go beyond rumour”

Deniz continued his answers to these allegations as follows:

“It is considered a shame for a sociology sophomore to state these allegations, let alone an associate professor in sociology. Because sociology is neither the parrot of the hegemon, nor is it the missionary of any belief, and it also knows that a sexual orientation cannot be spread. Sociology is farthest from hetero-mascist discourse the most. They are clearly defaming not only me, but also my students who go to intership mobility abroad by passing the necessary exams, and by completing relevant procedures. Unfortunately these two people, whose rumours against me have been accepted as testimonies by the university’s investigation commission, will be lecturing the students at the Department of Sociology at Usak University.

“With these two ridiculous testimonies that do not go beyond rumours and that do not include even a tiny bit of information as to whether or not I am terrorist (!), I had been made a mid-level suspect from a low-level suspect by the FETO investigation commission at the university.”

“The president of the university who would later be arrested with the charge of being a member of FETO had hurriedly sent this file to the file of another investigation about me. I had been aware of the process when I went to YOK to get the files.”

“They are getting involved in the investigation by using their posts”

“Students who would testify in my favour are being intimidated by the Head of the Department of Sociology at Usak University in person, by giving the name of the deputy president of the university. Students who are being threatened with their courses, grades, and futures are trying to be scared to even voice this situation. It is against the natural course of life for the deputy president of the university to not know about this incident. These people are getting involved in ongoing investigation processes by using their posts. What needs to be done is obvious in a normal system. They should be relieved of duty for the safety of the investigation.”

“Some people are terribly deceiving others”

Deniz stated that he will press charges against the people who ‘gossiped’ about him and also said that,

“In a process where I feel like Dreyfus, which is explained by Arendt with the theory of ‘banality of evil’, I thank all my family, students, and friends who have supported me in overcoming the injustices, who have stood by the truth despite being threatened, and who have lent me a hand for truth and justice to get back on its feet.

I believe that some people are terribly deceiving others right now, please no one get angry, I know it from the decision given about me.”

KaosGL: “Sedef Çakmak: The rainbow flag at the March for Justice gives us hope”

The leader of the main opposition party CHP in Turkey led a 25-day, 450 km “March for Justice” from the country’s capital to Istanbul to protest the imprisonment of a party lawmaker. The march, joined by tens of thousands, soon grew to a wider anti-government protest demanding justice. The CHP Beşiktaş Municipality Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak, the first lesbian to be elected in Turkey, evaluated the March for Justice from the perspective of the LGBTI Movement for KaosGL.Org.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Sedef Çakmak: Adalet Yürüyüşü’ndeki gökkuşağı bayrağı umut veriyor,” KaosGL, July 10, 2017 http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24168

The March for Justice led by CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu set off on June 15 from Ankara Güvenpark and finished with the Justice Meeting on July 9 in Istanbul. CHP Beşiktaş Municipality Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak evaluated the 24-day long Justice March from the perspective of the LGBTI movement for KaosGL.org. Çakmak suggests that both the march and the increasing role of LGBTIs in policy-making within CHP is promising.

“LGBTI+s have been struggling for justice for years”

The March for Justice, led by CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu brought together people from all walks of life, who believe in the rule of law and who believe that the independence of the judiciary is threatened.

The demands articulated by Kılıçdaroğlu during the rally yesterday show that the search for justice is also a search for democracy. This, in turn, reflects the effort to bring together the masses which it is believed can never stand together. Yet democracy is an issue which cannot be left to the hands of the politicians. At this critical point in this country, all of us need to do our share for democracy and liberties. The best case in hand is perhaps LGBTI+s present in every sector of society. They have been continuing this struggle merely with their existence for years.

Since 2009, thanks to the selfless work of the LGBTI+ movement and the individual efforts of some of the MPs, the LGBTI+ individuals’ search for justice and equality has come to be voiced more and more within the CHP. Our candidacy for city council for CHP during 2014 local elections and afterwards our work in municipalities quickly led to awareness within the party. As such, the LGBTI+ movement emerged as a political actor during the 2015 general elections.

“There were people carrying the rainbow flag on their bags at the March for Justice against the government’s hunt for rainbows after banning Istiklal Avenue for Pride Walk”

The CHP’s increasing advocacy against the discrimination, pressure and inequality LGBTI+ individuals are subjected to is of course promising, but this can not be a one way relationship. As citizens, we need to be more present in the political parties as well as to continue articulating our rights. There were people carrying the rainbow flag on their bags and waving their rainbow umbrellas freely at the Justice March against the government’s hunt for rainbows after banning İstiklal for Pride Walk.

“It gives me hope that the CHP gives more place to LGBTI+ individuals”

Surely there are criticisms and prejudices against CHP, but the criticism should not overshadow the fact that there are many who labor to bring the party to a more inclusive position. In that regard, millions who come together with the demand for justice which already surpassed the CHP as well as the CHP giving more place to LGBTI+ individiuals as a social democratic opposition party give me hope. And I believe that now we need hope more than ever.

KaosGL: Trans Pride took place in Harbiye in spite of ban

The press statement for Trans Pride Walk was read in Pangaltı in Istanbul rather than Taksim Square as originally planned due to a heavy police blockade. Anti-transphobia activists marched to Harbiye.

Source: “Trans Pride Walk took place in Harbiye in spite of the ban!” (Trans Onur Yürüyüşü yasağa inat Harbiye’deydi), kaosGL.org, July 2, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24123

Foto: SPoD LGBTI

Anti-transphobia activists met today (July 2) at Pangaltı, upon the call of the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association within the scope of Trans Pride Walk. The press statement was read in front of the Pangaltı metro station. The statement protested the last minute ban of the governor’s office and commemorated those who were murdered in Sivas Madımak Hotel on July 2, 1993.

Detentions following the march

After the statement, anti-transphobia activists walked to Harbiye following Cumhuriyet Avenue. After the walk, the police took 7 people into custody. The police did not state the reason for the arrests. The names of the detained are: Buse Kılıçkaya of Pink Life LGBTI, LGBTI+ activists Şevval Kılıç, Özgür Durmaz, Emre Aymelek, Beniz Ertürk, Umut Avcı and photographer Ömer Tevfik Erten.

The detained rights activists were taken to Feriköy Police Station and were all released after an hour long detention.

After releasing these 7 people, the police immediately detained them once more in order to “to draw up a record”.

Photo: SPoD LGBTİ

Taksim under police blockade

Last night people were banned from assembling at Taksim square. The surrounding area was under police blockade. Gezi Park was closed, the entrance to many streets on İstiklal Avenue were blocked and police harassed people sitting in the cafes around Mis Street.

The statement was read in Taksim

The press statement for the walk was read on Öğüt Street which hosts Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association.

We ask the governor’s office!

Here is the full text of the press statement:

To the press and public,

Trans Pride Week has been banned by the governor’s office for the last two years, in spite of years of peaceful celebrations and the march not constituting any problems against public order.

The governor’s office states that “the aforementioned march’s organization will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are visiting the area, and in regards to public order.”

We ask the governor’s office;

*In the previous 8 walks which citizen’s security were threatened?

*Which tourists were ever harmed?

We are as sure about this as we are about our tranny-ness; neither the Istanbul Governor’s Office nor the office of the Prime minister can justify such an excuse…

The Governor’s office of Istanbul has gracefully added the security of the trans and anti-transphobia activists to its announcement. The Governor’s office might have forgotten; so we shall remind it!

Esteemed Governor;

You have been banning Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Walk for the last 3 years and Trans Pride Walk for 2 years. During these 3 years, nearly 100 anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia activists were injured, tens of them were detained and hundreds of citizens were subjected to police violence. Many citizens who have come to Taksim to exercise their most basic rights were put on trial in a lawless manner.

And again, highly esteemed Governor, our exercise of the constitutional rights were inhibited by the civilian fascists’ calls for jihad, murder and massacre, under the watch of the law enforcers working under you…

Is security maintained by tear-gassing the citizens?

We ask:

Is security maintained by tear-gassing, assaulting and detaining the citizens exercising their constitutional right? Is what you call security maintained by condoning the attacks of civil fascists, committing a crime according to the constitution?

We know that the governor will not answer these questions. The governor and all those who agree on the ban should know that we will never give up daring to use our constitutional right!

Transphobia and xenophobia

Today, the Middle East is struggling with wars, internal conflicts and repressive policies of the political powers. Across the border, war in Syria and Iraq shows its cruel face to trans rights. Many organizations such as ‘Army of Conquest’ and ‘Free Syria Army’, supported by the government on the grounds that they are dissidents, have perpetrated crimes against LGBTI+s systematically and massacred many of our friends in the most primitive ways possible.

Amidst all these atrocities, LGBTI+s were forced to migrate to Turkey in the hope of a new life but were once more systematically condemned to oblivion. Migrant trans individuals trying to survive against all the hardships they experience in public space are condemned to a civilian death within a system deprived of support mechanisms.

The deplorable state of the camps, the steep rents, unemployment and insecurity have become ordinary for the migrants, the hardships are double for trans individuals.

Transphobia within the society, when combined with xenophobia, leads to violence and threats become a fact of life for the migrant trans individuals residing in Turkey. Every breath we take and every moment we live have become a struggle for survival.”

We, as the trans individuals of this country, speaking different languages, hailing from diverse regions and carrying all colours of the world in their hearts, declare that we will not allow any of our trans friends to stand alone against death threats, state or civilian violence and any kind of discrimination. Despite the state rationality that prevents us from coming together and all discriminatory ideas; we the trans individuals will continue to stand together regardless of language, religion, race or colour!

We have a couple of things to say to the Governor who banned our walk for the trans individuals migrating to Turkey from Syria and all other countries!

Esteemed governor, perhaps you don’t know, let us remind you!

According to Article 34 of the Constitution ‘ Everyone has the right to organize unarmed and non-violently assemble and protest marches without need for permission.’

And according to Article 3 of the Law No. 2911, everyone has the right to protest and to march without having to be given permission.

Esteemed Governor, as citizens fighting for the protection of constitutional rights, we invite you to act according to the constitution and not to commit any crimes!

Do not forget that those who came before you and banned the walk are either in prison or dismissed from their posts. And yet we are still here! We will continue to protect our lives and our living spaces! Even if you blockade each street against our walk, we will strengthen our struggle for survival in every home, in every street and in every city.

Don’t remain silent, trans individuals exist! The borders only exist in our minds, migrant trans individuals are among us!

We will continue to defend our living spaces, get used to it, we are not leaving!