Kaos GL: Film Ban Determined to be not within the Jurisdiction of Ombudsman!

Ombudsman Institution stated that the ban against Kuirfest film screening is not “within the jurisdiction” of the institution.

Compiled from: “Film ban determined to be not within the jurisdiction of ombudsman!” (“Film yasağı Kamu Denetçiliği’nin görev alanında değilmiş!”), Kaos GL, March 19, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/yazarlar.php?id=4002

“Kuir Kısalar” (“Queer Shorts”) was a film screening, organized in collaboration of KuirFest with Pera and British Council and was scheduled to take place on November 25, 2017. The screening was first postponed to a later date with a notification sent to Pera Museum by the District Governorship. Another notice delivered to Pera Museum on December 29 stated the event was postponed until January 12. The screening was ultimately banned on the premises that “public safety” should be provided. Pink Life Association’s petition to the Ombudsman Institute regarding the ban was rejected on the grounds of “no-investigation.” Pink Life Association’s lawyer Emrah Şahin applied to Ombudsman on January 4 stating the “Kuir Kısalar” screening was banned unlawfully and that the parties were notified of the ban on the last day, which violated the legal right to appeal. Şahin stated that freedom of speech as well as “good administration principles” were violated.

District Governorship Demanded Dismissal

The defense statement of Beyoğlu District Governorship indicated that “Kuir Kısalar” might be targeted by terrorist organizations and that this situation could lead to a civil war. The District Governorship stated that it does not aim to other LGBTI+ individuals or to limit rights and liberties, instead the rejection was intended to prevent crime and to protect the public order.

The District Governorship did not state any reason for why the event was cancelled on the last day and opposes any review of this decision.

No Investigation Decision from Ombudsman Institute

Upon receiving the Beyoğlu District Governorship’s defense, Ombudsman Institute rejected the application for an inspection of the ban decision on the premises that the incident is not within the “assigned mandate” of the institution.

A “Careless and Sloppy Decision”

Lawyer Emrah Şahin stated his views on the decision of Ombudsman Institute to reject the application. Şahin reported the reasons the District Governorship has are same as the decision to ban Pride Walk. Thus, the issue has been handled in a sloppy manner. Ombudsman’s statement that the issue is “not within their jurisdiction” is self-contradictory.

Şahin said: “As you know we applied to Ombudsman Institute following the last day ban against our event which was scheduled to take place at Pera by Beyoğlu District Governorship. As the ban was issued on the day before the event, the Association was deprived of the right to appeal the decision since there was not enough time. Therefore, the association has suffered irrevocable harm and Beyoğlu District Governorship violated the “good administration principles” as well as interfered with the right to access justice, freedom of speech, the right to assembly, to art and property rights. Based on these reasons, we petitioned Ombudsman for further information and the Governorship of Istanbul based its decision on memos from Ministry of Interior and the Security Directorate which stated: “the walk planned by LGBTI members could potentially be targeted by terrorist organizations, given the increase in the threats of terrorist acts against our country.

Neither the dates or numbers of these memos were indicated. The banned event is not a ‘walk.’ Indeed, it is a film screening! The memos on which the decision is built were obviously memos written about ‘Pride Walk’, yet Ombudsman Institute found these responses to be adequate. The administration does not clarify why the ban was issued on the last day either. The Ombudsman Institution did not comment on this practice, which is blatantly against the “good administration principles.” Instead, Ombudsman determined there would be “no investigation” after first suggesting our application for review is “within the domain of legislation” only to retract by stating that it is “not within their jurisdiction”, leading our association to pursue further legal avenues.

“As a law practitioner, my confidence in Ombudsman Institute is lost after this decision. Such careless and sloppy decision making on such an important matter perhaps stems from the institute’s hesitation in making an advisory ruling on this issue.” –Pink Life

The constitutional court’s changes to Article 40 are now in effect

The Constitutional Court annulled a clause in the Turkish Civil Code’s Article 40 stating the requirement of “to be permanently deprived of the ability to reproduce” on Nov. 29, 2017. The decision is now in effect with its publication in the Official Gazette on March 20.

Source: Pembe Hayat, “AYM’nin Madde 40’taki Değişikliği Yürürlüğe Girdi”, 20 March 2018, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1681

A trans man launched a case in 2014 at the Ankara 4th Court of First Instance for a name change as well as his gender transition process. He requested that the court investigate the Turkish Civil Code Article 40’s “mandatory sterilization” as being unconstitutional, that this surgery was not successfully performed in Turkish state hospitals and successful experts charged exorbitant amounts, that there was lasting irreversible damage after the operation affecting bodily integrity.

The Constitutional Court committee examined the file and annulled the requirement “to be permanently deprived of the ability to reproduce” from the Turkish Civil Code’s Article 40 on Nov. 29, 2017.

That change has been put into effect as of March 20.

No requirement for infertility anymore

The annulment of Article 40’s Clause 1 stating “to be permanently deprived of the ability to reproduce” means sterilization will not be required in gender transition operations. However, Article 40’s Clause 2 stating “the court will rule for the necessary changes in the population registry after an official health council confirms that the gender change surgery was conducted” remains in the law after the push for its annulment was rejected on Nov. 29.

“The effect of this annulment may be joint indemnity cases.”

Attorney Sinem Hun said she finds the decision to be positive and told Pink Life:

Though we don’t yet know the reason for the annulment, it may be a reflection of European Court of Human Rights A.P., Nicot and Garcon decision. The effect of this annulment may be joint indemnity cases as we have also seen in Sweden. Injured parties and associations may consider action as this practice lasted between 2002 and 2017. Of course the legal techniques should be evaluated and I reserve comments on the issue of techniques for now.

“This article was contrary to the Constitution’s Articles 17 and 20”

Pink Life’s lawyer Emrah Sahin said this incommensurable condition will no longer be sought in gender transition and added:

We see this decision as positive because this clause was contrary to the Constitution’s Articles 17 and 20. This decision also reveals that. With the annulment of this clause, the state will no longer seek “permanently deprived of the ability to reproduce” in gender transition.

Turkish Civil Code’s Article 40

Turkish Civil Code’s Article 40 regulates the “procedure” on “gender change.” The changed article is:

A person wanting to change their gender may apply to a court in person to request the allowance of gender change. However, in order to be allowed [to do so], the person needs to have passed the age of 18 and be unmarried, and document, via an official health council report from an education and research hospital, that they are of transsexual disposition, that it’s necessary to undergo gender change for their psychological health. The court will rule for the necessary changes in the population registry if an official health council confirms that the gender change surgery was conducted in line with the goal and medical procedures dependent on the granted permission.

 

 

 

A Lesson on ‘Discrimination’ for the Constitutional Court

The Turkish Constitutional Court faces internal dissent on its verdict that banning a gay religion teacher from teaching was not discriminatory.

Source: Nurcan Gökdemir, “AYM’ye ‘ayrımcılık’ dersi”, Birgün, 8 March 2018, https://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/aym-ye-ayrimcilik-dersi-207237.html

The Constitutional Court has recently rejected the appeal of a soldier, who was expunged from the Turkish Armed Forces. The reason given by the court for the decision was that “homosexuality is detrimental to the honor of military service”. Now, the Court has ruled that there was no discrimination against a Religious Culture and Moral Values teacher, who was fired for the same reasons.

The court ruling states “It is natural for persons, who want to work educating young children, to be subjected to certain restrictions to which other people are not subjected.” Deputy Chair Engin Yıldırım and member Muharrem Topal did not support the ruling. In his statement for voting against [the ruling] Yıldırım stated that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited in international agreements and stipulations, which Turkey has agreed to uphold. The statement of dissenting vote, which emphasizes the fact that the Constitutional Court’s ruling is unconstitutional, included these points as the rationale:

“The Constitution states that the State does not have an official sexual orientation and the State must be equal and impartial to all genders, sexual identities, gender identities, and sexual orientations.”

“Discrimination against sexual orientation is an acceptance of the idea that some lives are less deserving of respect and dignity, and therefore lead to hindering LGBTI+ [people’s] participation in social life with equal opportunity and dignity.”

“One of the foundational duties of the state is to protect human dignity and refrain from policies, practices, and judicial regulations that will damage the dignity of people who constitute a particular community”

Istanbul LGBTI: We have news from Diren

Source: Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association, https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1599145250163198&id=143393965738341

On Feb. 21, the 27th day of Diren’s death fast, we, a group of Diren’s friends and lawyers, went to Tekirdağ No.2  F Type Penitentiary. We started the day with the news that Kıvılcım [Arat from Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association who joined Diren’s fast] was forbidden from visiting Diren.

Despite the bad news, we let Diren know that we as her family, friends and lawyers will continue to be active in achieving her demands. We then had a meeting with the prison administration about Diren’s primary demands regarding laser epilation, vegan meals and ending the wardens’ discriminatory attitudes towards Diren based on her trans identity.

In this meeting we agreed with the prison administration on the need to work together in achieving this and Diren has accordingly decided to put her death fast on hold while the prison administration continues to collaborate. Diren has thanked everyone who has shown solidarity with her and said that she wanted all her friends who had started a hunger strike and death fast to end their protests.

As the solidarity group for Diren, we will be publishing a more detailed update in the following days. We thank everyone who helped Diren’s voice be heard in this process.

#DirendenHaberVar (#NewsFromDiren)

 

#BeAVoiceForDiren

Friends of imprisoned LGBTI activist Diren Coşkun have started a campaign to support Diren who has started a death fast against the rights violations she has been enduring in a Turkish prison. The campaign urges supporters to sign a petition and to write e-letters, which will then be taken to Diren.

Diren was arrested on Aug. 14, 2017 with the allegation of “propaganda for an illegal organization.”

Diren is a trans woman and has been put in isolation after she rejected to stay in the male ward of the prison. Demanding an end to her solitary confinement and access to trans-specific healthcare, Diren started the death fast on Jan. 25.

Kıvılcım Arat from Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association announced her own death fast on Feb. 6 in solidarity with Coşkun. (Read Arat’s account of life in prison for trans inmates on here.)

To support Diren, please sign the petition or join the social media campaign by sharing your messages of solidarity these hashtags:

#SeiEineStimmeFürDiren

#DireneSesVer

#BeAVoiceForDiren

#WeesEenStemVoorDiren #SoyesUneVoixPourDiren

#TransRights

 

Evrensel: Mican’s threats and hate speech is considered freedom of speech

The Istanbul Chair of the Alperen Hearths Foundation, Kürşat Mican’s threats and hate speech against LGBTI Pride Walk was evaluated and ruled to be within the scope of freedom of speech by a state prosecutor’s investigation. Despite the fact that Mican is not a journalist, the prosecutor emphasized the ‘freedom of press’ in his verdict.

Source: Cansu Pişkin, “Mican’ın tehditleri, nefret söylemi ifade özgürlüğü sayıldı!”, Evrensel, February 10, 2018, https://www.evrensel.net/haber/345211/micanin-tehditleri-nefret-soylemi-ifade-ozgurlugu-sayildi

A criminal complaint had been filed against Kürşat Mican, who used threats and hate speech bearing statements during a television programme on KRT. The statements were directed towards the LGBTI Pride Walk planned to take place on June 25 last year. Lawyers Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin filed a complaint to the Istanbul Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor, stating that Mican was inciting the public to hatred and animosity, using threats and insults. Mican had threatened the Pride Walk with the following statements: “These people plan to build a structure in every neighborhood. We warn our Intelligence Agencies. This is a project of the capitalist, communist, imperialist powers. They aim to spread homosexuality, to destroy the unity of family, to stop procreation, to end the husband-wife relationship and to prevent the growth of a generation which is a result of said relationship and which would do good for this nation. This dynamite is planted at the foundation of the structure of the family. Young people are getting inclined towards this direction. They especially went down to working at the level of neighborhoods. We will not allow this, whatever the cost may be. I’m addressing the Turkish nation, these are very dangerous structures. We need to prevent this immorality, this will spread otherwise. If the state allows this, we won’t. Where ever they will walk, we will go and block that region, that avenue, they won’t be able come there anyway. We will not let them walk. We can find 200 thousand people if need be.”

The statements were interpreted as within the legal parameters of press freedom.

Public Prosecutor Ersoy Altıntaş from the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor Press Crimes Inquiry Bureau evaluated the criminal complaint and found the statements to be within the scope of freedom of speech. Rather than focus on Mican’s words, Altıntaş frequently emphasized ‘press freedom’ in his verdict and on the medium of the statements, the TV channel, and the program–even though Mican is not a journalist. Altıntaş stated: “If a journalist is sentenced for helping disseminate another person’s words, this will create a serious obstacle against the contribution of the press in public debate. Thus, this should not be the path to take unless there are valid reasons to do so. To set the condition for the journalists to systematically refrain from statements which can hurt, incite, or defame others does not comply with the role of the press to inform the public on current affairs, opinions and notions.”

Prosecutor Altıntaş also suggested “freedom of speech is among the most fundamental rights in a democratic society” and stated “according to the regulation in the law, there needs to be a concrete danger in order to have an element of crime. The news article in this case does not create such a concrete danger; therefore, as in the incident for which the complaint is filed, the legal elements for the alleged crimes are not existent. As a result of the investigation carried out by our Office of Chief Public Prosecutor, it was understood from the documents pertaining to investigation that the alleged crimes had not come into existence”. The case is at the moment deemed as nolle prosequi. Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin have stated their intention to file an appeal to this verdict.

LGBTI activist Kıvılcım Arat joins Diren Coskun’s death fast

Trans woman Diren Coşkun, incarcerated in Tekirdağ No.2 Prison, has been on a hunger strike for 13 days, asking for an end to rights violations in detention and for her right to surgery and treatment. Her friend Kıvılcım Arat, too, has announced her own hunger strike to help Coşkun’s voice be heard and to support her right to treatment.

This article was compiled from: ”Diren Coşkun 13 gündür ölüm orucunda, Kıvılcım Arat da aynı eyleme başladı”, Gazete Karınca, February 6, 2018, http://gazetekarinca.com/2018/02/diren-coskun-13-gundur-olum-orucunda-kivilcim-arat-da-ayni-eyleme-basladi/

Keskesor activist Diren Coskun, who was arrested in August 2017, has completed the 13th day of her hunger strike in Tekirdağ No.2 Prison.

Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association Board Member and spokesperson for Democratic Women Movement Kıvılcım Arat had announced that trans woman Coşkun has started a hunger strike against the prevention of her right to surgery and treatment, and the rights violations occurring in prison. Coşkun had declared her protest as follows:

“I’ve been subjected to many humiliating practices here. I lay my body to die, to gain my right to surgery and treatment, and to have this severe isolation abolished. I hereby declare to democratic public opinion that I have started a hunger strike as of January 25.”

As Coşkun’s death fast continues, Kıvılcım Arat announced that she has “started a death fast in order to reinforce Diren Coşkun’s voice and to make her demand for treatment heard”.

Kıvılcım Arat tweeted on February 6:

“In spite of our best efforts, we were not able to draw attention to Diren’s demand for access to treatment. Her trans identity cast a shadow over her protest and rendered it invisible. As of February 6 00:00, I have started a fast in order to reinforce Diren Coşkun’s voice and to make her demand for treatment heard.”

Arat stated that she will continue the fast until Diren Coşkun’s demands are met. Arat has criticized the LGBTI community for its lack of interest in Coşkun’s current situation and has emphasized that the oppression and violence against trans individuals remains invisible.