LGBTI Activist Recounts Homophobic Harassment During Detention

Source: Yıldız Tar, “LGBTİ Aktivisti Gözaltında Homofobik Tacizi Anlattı,” (“LGBTI Activist Recounts Homophobic Harassment during Detention,”) Kaos GL, 26 February 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=15914

A demonstration took place in Taksim on February 22, 2014 against Internet censorship. The police attacked the protesters with tear gas and took many of them into custody. Among the detainees was Hevi LGBTI member Sezer Yekta. Yekta was taken into custody with the justification that he was in possession of a rainbow flag. He was assaulted and was subjected to homophobic harassment by the police.

Sezer Yekta recounts that night and what he experienced:

Yes, I was among those detained on February 22 during the demonstrations against Internet censorship.

We were in Taksim around 7 PM. The square itself appeared calm. We began to walk and ran into some leftist protesters with flags. This was probably around the store MANGO. Seeing them gave me courage and I took out the rainbow flag that I had folded up in my bag. As I was trying to attach the flag to its handle, I found myself abruptly surrounded by police terror – without any notice or warning. Those who had the chance to escape had already run away. I, on the other hand, was in the arms of two creatures. I vaguely remember that they took the rainbow flag and stomped on it.

Battering, insults, harassment…

One of them took me by the hair and sat me down amidst five or six members of the riot police. I was trying to protect myself against their punches, kicks and batons as I heard them swear: “fucking faggot, ass giver, fuck your ass.”  There were people around us who objected to the police beating me and so the battering stopped… Then, it was time for them to drag me from in front of MANGO to Taksim Square. All the while, they continued to beat me and insult me… They pushed me through groups of riot police at which time another round of beatings, insults and harassment regarding my LGBTI identity would begin.

“Take him in so we can fulfill our faggot quota!”

Despite everything I was still talking back. I did not feel the pain. I kicked them back whenever I got the chance… Finally, we reached the bus that transports the detainees. They searched me and asked for my identification. One of them asked, “Why did you bring this one here?” Another one interjected, “Go on take him so we can fulfill our faggot quota!”

I got in the bus. There were about 30 or 40 people in there. There were some who were terribly injured by the battering. Some of them seemed to know each other and were exchanging comments like, “I wonder what he did [to be in here]” or, “How many of us are in here?” I sat. I sent a text message to my friends to tell them I was in custody.

“Why did you get a lip piercing, did you not have enough holes already?”

Each time a policeman passed me by, he laughed and looked for an excuse to mock me. I held my own. One of them asked me, “What kind of a manly man would wear an earring?” He was startled by my reply: “Are you so blind as to not see that I am not a manly man?” He had not been able to satisfy his ego so he tried to hurt me again, “Why did you get a lip piercing, did you not have enough holes already?” I responded laughingly, “We bother you plenty with our other holes, my point is to bother you some more.”

At this point, I really had to pee. There were some policemen on duty inside the bus and I told them over and over again that I had to go. None of them seemed to care. This continued for a full two hours. Finally, one of them said, “someone, take this one to the toilet.” And the response I heard from another one was, “I would not go to the toilet with him” (!) (Kiss my ass…)

There were some women on the bus. I told them, “Girls, turn around” as I tried to unzip. And I was serious. I was really going to pee because I was about to burst. They said, “OK, OK stop. We’re going. You’ll pee at the hospital.” So I continued to hold it. We reached the hospital, the happy ending! I had to pee so badly that I do not even remember how much time I spent in the toilet. The only thing I remember is them yelling at me, “Come on, what are you doing in there for so long?”

Police talk about porn!

I replied, “I’m peeing; can’t you hear?” My response must have infuriated him because as soon as I got out, he grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the bus. There were only men left in the bus. They had taken the women in for health checks. Five or six policemen got in. One of them said, “So the ladies have left, right? So, aren’t we going to watch porn?” He started to talk to some of the “leftist” men about pussies, dicks and asses.

“Do they call you LPG?”

Of course I was bothered by how the place stunk of men. A policeman asked me “You must be from the porn lobby. What do they call you, LPG?  [Liquid Petrol Gas] What are you doing here?” I replied, “Let’s just agree on the fact that you are not funny. It is not LPG. It is LGBTI for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex.” Another policeman asked, “So what exactly is bisexual?” I explained. Finally, it was my turn to see the doctor. On the way, I ran into lawyers. I began to explain the situation but the police interjected and I entered the doctor’s office.

“In how many years will you become a transvestite?”

After a completely ridiculous session of what was supposed to pass for an examination, we collected our reports and headed to the police station. A policeman asked me, “In how many years will you become a transvestite?” I did not spare the heroic Turkish police (!) the answer “My dear, I am already a transvestite.”

We arrived at the police station and we began to wait for the prosecutor’s report. I spent one night at the police station. In the morning they transferred us to the prosecutor’s office and I delivered my statement to the lawyers. I said, “There was no evidence found on me in relation to the demonstration. I was battered. I was subjected to harassment and hate speech because of my LGBTI identity. I spent one night in detention for no reason at all. I hereby declare that I am the injured party and I demand a countersuit.” I was then released.

During my time in custody, I was extremely touched by your organized struggle and efforts. I greet you all in this struggle to organize and to resist. I send you a big kiss.

There is no emancipation alone. Either none of us or all of us!

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