Mayor Hazinedar: Message to the victims of hate crimes on the occasion of the 20 November Trans Day of Remembrance

Source: Av. Murat Hazinedar, “Nefrete Inat, Yaşasın Hayat!”, (“In Spite of Hate, Yes to Life!”), 20 November 2014, http://besiktas.bel.tr/Sayfa/7138/nefrete-inat-yasasin-hayat

“Discrimination”, “hate speech”, “hate crimes”, “honor killings of homosexuals/transexuals”… How truly aware are we of these phrases that we have heard for a long time now? How seriously do we take these chilling images that we encounter every day in newspapers and TV news bulletins? Are we prepared to answer these questions with a clear conscience? Unfortunately, no! We must confront a painful truth. Official figures state that 36 trans individuals have been murdered over the past ten years. Experts, however, contend that without “transphobia” being delineated amongst other hate crimes, the real figures are likely to be several times higher.

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20 November is a day when we all must turn our thoughts to all those hundreds of lives lost and victims of crimes listed within the categories above. For today is a day that has been consecrated worldwide since 1998 and in Turkey, with the leadership of LGBTI foundations, since 2008, to the remembrance of trans individuals who have been victims of hate crimes. We, at the Besiktas Municipality, have been working with great earnestness to address the issue of hate crimes and honor killings of homosexuals/trans individuals and treat this as one of our most important objectives. We treat LGBTI rights as basic human rights and have tailored our services and politics to this end. As a first step, prior to the 2014 local elections, we signed the “LGBTI-friendly Municipality protocol” prepared by the SPoD LGBTI association, in a public function in the main square of Besiktas, thereby announcing our commitment to this cause. We further announced our intention of working in partnership with LGBTI associations to address this issue. We have founded a “Equality partnership” in our municipality and our relationship with LGBTI associations has been growing stronger.

Our work in the recent past has led to important legal developments. On May 11, 2011, the European Council started collecting signatures for the “Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence” in Istanbul. This Agreement, now known as the “Istanbul Convention,” came into force on 1 August, 2014. The Besiktas Municipality’s efforts towards LGBTI rights, a reflection of our humane and conscientious responsibilities has, with the coming into force of this Convention, been given a legal basis. With Turkey having been the first country to sign the Convention, we must take the lead on recognizing our responsibilities. We ask that all the articles of the Convention, in particular, the third section of the fourth article be incorporated into our nation’s law.[1]

With these efforts of ours, we respectfully remember those LGBTI individuals amongst us who have suffered hate crimes. We promise, in order to immediately address the problems faced by individuals who have suffered from hate crimes, to work towards promptly incorporating the articles of the “European Council’s Istanbul Convention” into law. The Besiktas Municipality, while working in this area, will always be open to learning from and sharing its experience with others involved. We further announce to the public that we look forward to public, local and civil partnerships to advance our work in this area.

Murat Hazinedar, Lawyer

Mayor of the Besiktas Municipality

[1] Article 4/3: The implementation of the provisions of this Convention by the Parties, in particular measures to protect the rights of victims, shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, gender, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, state of health, disability, marital status, migrant or refugee status, or other status.

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