Author: lgbtinewsturkey

LGBTI activist Bulut Öncü lost his life in a traffic accident

LGBTI activist Bulut Öncü, who worked in the field of sexual health, lost his life in a traffic accident. Condolences to all of us.

Source: “Bulut Öncü trafik kazasında yaşamını kaybetti”, kaosgl.org, 20 February 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23098

LGBTI activist Bulut Öncü lost his life in a traffic accident this morning. Öncü was in a taxi in Istanbul when the accident happened.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in his hometown of Konya.

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He worked in the Community Volunteers Foundation, Y-Peer Turkey and UNFPA

Öncü was a volunteer reporter at KaosGL.org between 2010-2013. He also worked at the Community Volunteers Foundation, Y-Peer Turkey and the UN Population Fund. Öncü was working as an International Consultancy Expert (ICE) from Belgium as part of Sivil Düşün EU Program.

Öncü worked and volunteered in different fields of civil society but was known for his work in the field of sexual health.

Öncü was also a 3H Movement member.

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He was going to run in Runatolia

If the traffic accident hadn’t torn Bulut Öncü from his loved ones, he would have run in Antalya Runatolia Marathon on March 5 for Y-Peer Turkey:

I need your help to solve an important problem!

We are facing a problem that concerns us all: there is no sexual health education for different age groups in Turkey’s education system and Turkey has the youngest population in Europe! Only one in 10 youths have the right information regarding HIV and AIDS in Turkey and nine out of 10 youths do not know when they are fertile with the risk of pregnancy…

But there are youths who work day and night to solve this problem! I will run 10 kilometers on March 5, 2017 in Antalya Runatolia Marathon for Y-Peer Turkey, an association that opens the path for youth to gain life skills by increasing their knowledge on sexual and reproductive health.

My goal is to collect 7,200 TL through donations in order to fund sexual and reproductive health education for 36 youths. If I succeed, 36 youths will get the right information about sexual and reproductive health. Moreover, this will take place through peer education models and informal education techniques. These youths who will be educated in various topics including rights, growing up as a teen and development, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, risky behaviors and condom use, will share what they learn with their peers and the benefit of correct information will be multiplied.

It is our responsibility to support the visibility of youth’s messages, to be in solidarity with them and to realize the dream of a world where all youth can reach sexual health education. I wish for you to join this dream and wait for your support.

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Condolences!

As Kaos GL, we are experiencing the pain of losing our volunteer reporter, friend and comrade Bulut Öncü. We give our condolences to all his friends and loved ones. Rest in peace.

 

 

Volunteering to Secure LGBTQI+ Rights in Turkey and Beyond

In a social environment defined by the absence of equal rights, downright discrimination and repressive cultural norms, representation is all the more crucial for LGBTQI+ individuals. The LGBTQI+ movement is growing stronger in Turkey. From the academic production of knowledge to representation in political arena, from demanding an end to ethnic discrimination to calling for new laws regarding sex workers, the LGBTQI+ movement is indeed active in all aspects of daily life. Its strength lies in its power to revert stereotypical imagery back to its beholder, most particularly through methods of creative resistance. This is exactly why we, LGBTI News Turkey, come together as an active group of volunteers to translate news on LGBTQI+ life in Turkey into English.

eringobro-via-flickr-cc-by-nc-2-0-768x512While working for political representation in municipalities, at the National Assembly and all levels of governance, the LGBTQI+ movement mobilises its efforts to produce its own cultural representations and images against the discursive and symbolic violence, two aspects of heteronormativity and sexism ever so sinister and so deeply engraved in our lives.

eringobro-via-flickr-cc-by-nc-2-0-768x512As LGBTI News Turkey, we try our best to spread the word and put these images of self-construction into circulation, to help  the ceaseless work done by LGBTQI+ civil society organisations (CSOs) of Turkey. For LGBTQI+ CSOs, it takes a relentless effort to maintain continuity in the face of an increasingly authoritarian government, and legal controversies regarding the freedom of speech and right to assembly.  We believe that “increasing the visibility of LGBTQI+ individuals” is more than a catch phrase for CSO work: it is a matter of life and death for many of our fellow LGBTQI+ community members. It is about reclaiming the right to live as we are, without any compromise. It is about rejecting to remain in the margins of a life not worth living. As one of the popular protest chants says, “Get used to it, we’re not going anywhere!”

We support these efforts by translating and archiving sources on LGBTQI+ life and rights violations in Turkey. By doing so, we create the necessary resources for international CSOs and international human rights bodies to report on Turkey. Files on rights violations help us document and report these cases at the United Nations, Council of Europe, and elsewhere with LGBTQI+ CSOs.

We believe that such efforts must be heard in other parts of the world. Because the LGBTQI+ community stretches beyond national boundaries. Because our experience might teach others and inspire them to act. Because we can only grow if we share. Because we cannot expect others to write about our lives. Because, for most of us, each day is a struggle and by sharing in each others’ struggles we can be empowered.

LGBTQI+ movements in different countries have similar experiences and go through similar processes to what we are facing in Turkey. Therefore it is very important for us – and other activists across the globe – to follow each others’ experiences in order to weave a network of support and solidarity. We believe that our translation work contributes to building a stronger bond, and ensuring an open dialogue with activists abroad. There is indeed interest towards what is going on in Turkey with regards to the LGBTQI+ movement and our blog renders the news accessible, by focusing solely on LGBTQI+ related news and by producing accurate and updated content. In 2016, we had 15 thousand readers from USA visiting our blog, and this traffic was due to The Advocate referring to our translations. The fact that we have become a steady and reliable source of information keeps us motivated. We believe that being knowledgeable about the history of LGBTQI+ resistance in other countries as well as in Turkey, and following the current developments, are essential for building a strong and true LGBTQI+ media.

Aside from publishing news articles on our blog, we give translation support for the annual Istanbul Pride Walk and related workshops, events and any written material. International visibility is vital in these organisations, especially at times of protest bans, police violence, and prosecution. As the mainstream media turns a blind eye to LGBTQI+ related events, if not openly showing them as targets, LGBTQI+ media outlets have an enormous workload on their shoulders and it is our responsibility to help in any way we can. As members of the rainbow nation, the task to strengthen global solidarity falls on our shoulders, and opening new channels of communication through translation is the least we can do.

Zeynep Serinkaya is an academic and volunteer at LGBTI News Turkey. This post was written for Disrupt & Innovate, a project by the International Civil Society Centre.

LGBTI activists meet for equality in municipalities

LGBTI activists from six cities met within the scope of SPoD’s Municipal Equality Index project, and discussed LGBTI politics in local administration.

Source: Umut Güven, “LGBTİ aktivistleri belediyelerde eşitlik için buluştu,” kaosGL.org, 23 January 2017, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22885

The activist stakeholders’ meeting within the scope of SPoD’s Municipal Equality Index project took place on Jan. 21 in Istanbul.

LGBTI organizations from six different cities met to discuss current municipal policies and goals.

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Aim: Create visibility for municipal work

The project aims to make visible the work of LGBTI-friendly municipalities through the index, and encourage municipalities to be LGBTI-friendly in the long term. The advisory committee for the project met in December 2016.

The meeting began with a presentation by SPoD’s Academic Coordinator Neyir Zerey on the NGO’s activities in political representation and LGBTIs’ demands in Turkey.

The meeting continued with activists sharing experiences on relations with local administrations and the project they’d like establish.

Open Society Foundation’s Program Coordinator Didem Tekeli said the foundation is open to applications on realizing such local projects and may offer grants.

“Education within municipalities is a must”

The meeting ended with a discussion on index criteria for the project.

Besiktas Municipality Assembly Member Sedef Çakmak emphasized the importance of education within the municipal institution and said:

“Some municipalities may be hesitant to work on the LGBTI field. It would be incorrect to label this hesitancy as homophobia or transphobia. In order to combat this attitude that is rooted in a lack of information, education within the municipal institution is crucial.”

SPoD activists met with municipality employees the following day.

 

Group that targeted gays in Ankara indicted for Al Qaeda membership

Five suspects who are members of the Young Islamic Defense group are on trial for membership in Al Qaeda after they targeted homosexuals on social media and with posters hanging in the Turkish capital Ankara that said “If you see someone engaged in the dirty business of the tribe of Lot [1], kill the doer and the done both.”

Source: Murat Benli, “Eşcinselleri hedef alanlar ‘El Kaide’den”, Hurriyet, 27 January 2017, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/escinselleri-hedef-alanlar-el-kaideden-40348739

An investigation began after a tip that the ‘Young Islamic Defense’ group targeted homosexuals on social media and hung posters on the streets on 7 July 2015, according to the indictment prepared by prosecutor Velihattin Eldemir.

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PRO-NUSRA FRONT

According to the indictment, this group has supported associations in Ankara that are in contact with groups in war zones organizing aid campaigns for Syria and protests. “It has been determined that [the group] has distributed texts, posters, and brochures in various areas of Ankara and have shared pro-Nusra Front [now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham] posts on social media,” the indictment says.

The group is not an official association and continues its activities via announcements on social media. It has been alleged that the group is connected to Ersin Mirac K who is loyal to pro-Nusra Front and is a ‘radical Salafi’. The indictment says:

‘FIRST CONTACT IS GARIP-DER’

“It is known that the people from our country crossing to so-called jihad areas first contact the association Garip-Der in Istanbul, and cross the border illegally from Hatay’s Reyhanli district by paying smugglers. According to open sources, international powers do not consider the Nusra Front a part of the Free Syrian Army and list it as a terror organization.”

[1] Tribe of Lot refers to the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities which Prophet Lot was sent to with God’s message and were destroyed by God when the community did not reign in its lust. The trope is often used against LGBT communities in the Muslim world.

Fashion Designer Barbaros Şansal Arrested for Social Media Video

Fashion designer Barbaros Şansal, who was taken into custody following his deportation back to Turkey due to his posts on social media, was arrested by the court he was taken after the prosecutor’s interrogation.

Source: BBC Türkçe, “Modacı Barbaros Şansal tutuklandı” (“Fashion Designer Barbaros Şansal is Arrested”), 3 January 2017, http://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-dunya-38496401

Şansal’s attorney Efkan Bolaç announced the arrest warrant on his Twitter account.

Barbaros Şansal’s arrest was demanded under the accusation of “Public incitement for hatred and hostility or insult.”

In his statement to the prosecutor regarding his tweet subjected to the accusations, Şansal said “My purpose here was to draw attention to unjust treatment to which people of three different beliefs are subjected. No discriminatory, hateful and spiteful language is used.”

Doğan Haber Ajansı (DHA) [Doğan News Agency –Trans.] reported that fashion designer Şansal gave the following testimony regarding the aforementioned video:

“I had given an interview to a website called Reportare on 19 October 2015. The headline of this interview was “Drown in your s…, Turkey.” I shared these words in the video as a satire against discrimination. This was followed by insults on the phone by hackers. I have shut down all my accounts and communication because of this. I have no means of communication since January 1, 2017. I do not accept the accusations.”

Attack on Barbaros Şansal on the Airstairs

‘We could not contain our nationalistic feelings’

On the other hand, it has been reported that at least eight more people’s statement were taken regarding the attack Barbaros Şansal was subjected to on Monday evening at Istanbul Atatürk airport.

Among the people whose involvement in the attack were confirmed by their employers are three personnels of the ground crew company TGS [Turkish Ground Services — Trans.] who are now subject to an administrative investigation. It has been reported that total of 12 TGS ground crew were interrogated.

According to reports on Doğan News Agency, one of the suspects delivered the following statement “We could not contain our nationalistic feelings. We shouted. We could not do anything due to the police shield.”

Devlet Hava Meydanları İşletmesi (DHMİ) [State Airports Administration –Trans.] announced that an investigation has been started regarding the attack on the apron. DHMİ’s statement included the following expression: “There is no question of negligence and weakness on our General Administration’s part.”

Akıncı: Lynch attempt should make us all think

Meanwhile, the leader of Northern Cyprus Mustafa Akıncı made a statement on the deportation of fashion designer Barbaros Şansal following the video he shared on social media and the consequent attack at the airport.

Akıncı stated that the deportation decision is based on an earlier decision made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and added that “Even though, it is impossible to approve of Barbaros Şansal’s sensational discourses, the deportation decision turning into a lynching attempt should make us all think deeply.”

Akıncı continued in his written statement as follows:

“This event may not have taken place in our country. However, I watch the attempts to plant the seeds of hatred, spite and lynch culture in our own country and society with a grave worry. We should not give hate, spite and lych culture a chance.

Law is the foundation of protecting, defining, and expanding the borders of freedom of expression. Lynch culture replacing the law is the biggest enemy of polyphonic democratic pluralist community life. What we need is for pluralist democratic constitutional state and community life to become enshrined, advance and improve; not for lynch culture to replace it.”

Editor’s note: Barbaros Şansal is an openly gay fashion designer and a public figure based in İstanbul.

 

SPoD LGBTI publishes Trans Women’s “Alternative” Work Experiences in Turkey

Trans Women’s “Alternative” Work Experiences in Turkey is a research project was conducted between October 2015-September 2016 by Social Policies Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association, and funded by ILGA Europe. Qualitative methods were adapted for this research and 15 in-depth interviews were made with trans women who have different job experiences.

Source: SPoD LGBTI, “Trans Women’s “Alternative” Work Experiences in Turkey”, http://www.transkadinlarinistihdami.org/en/

In this project, informants’ education background, employment processes, problems at the workplace, transitioning and military service status were focused to explain their ways to exist in the working life, individual strategies, socio-economic factors and relations with LGBTI movement.

Explore the project at http://www.transkadinlarinistihdami.org/en/

INTERVIEWS/ NARRATIVES

#1“My last dismissal case was as my boss stated, ‘I have nothing to say about your practice but I couldn’t resist to the pressure coming from around. You always have complaints. Unfortunately they are about your existence.’” (Ece, 41, Dentist)

BEING FIRED, DISCRIMINATION

#2“My education, I am a high school graduate. Well, in fact my trans identity precluded me from many things that I wanted to do at the condition of Turkey.” (Neriman, 34, Barmaid/Manager)

EDUCATION, PROFESSION

#3“I came here after I finished my studies. Because it was too hard to find a job in Balıkesir. While even the ordinary people or the ordinary women have difficulties to find job, it was even harder for a trans woman who did not start life with a silver spoon in their mouth.” (Peyker, 22, Sex Worker)

DISCRIMINATION, JOB APPLICATION

#4“If you don’t want to do sex work, the family is a huge factor. This is the only thing that I want to add… I mean, for example I realized that I didn’t do sex work just to be accepted by my family and my neighbors. My moralistic attitude, even that I declare myself as a socialist feminist I come from a feudal family. I don’t think some things will be possible until we destroy this feudality and the force inside of us. If it will be possible, there should be the support of the family.” (Peyker, 22, Sex Worker)

ACCEPTANCE, FAMILY, HONOUR, SEX WORK

(more…)

LGBTI Activist Kemal Ordek’s Attacker Convicted

A landmark decision has been issued about the three aggressors who attacked Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association President Kemal Ördek. One of the attackers was sent to prison following the hearing after being charged with qualified sexual assault. 

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “LGBTİ Aktivistine Cinsel Saldırı Davasında Saldırgan Tutuklandı”, Bianet, 17 November 2016, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/180825-lgbti-aktivistine-cinsel-saldiri-davasinda-saldirgan-tutuklandi

Two people who attacked Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association President and LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek have been sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and a judicial fine on charges of robbery, threat and insult. The third attacker has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for qualified sexual assault in addition to the aforementioned crimes and sent to prison.

Evaluating the decision to bianet, attorney Deniz Aksoy said “Because the victim’s identity as a sex worker was taken as a basis, this penalty imposed on the ground of sexual assault will be seen as a precedent.”

What had happened?

LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was sexually assaulted in their house in Ankara on 5 July 2015. The police allegedly said  “Enough with this Tribe of Lot” and the suspects said “Officer, we’re manly men. You understand us, don’t you? Don’t listen to what this faggot has to say.”

Following the assault Nils Muiznieks, the European Council Human Rights Commissioner made a written statement regarding the incident and called on the authorities to explicitly declare that they would not tolerate hate speech and crimes against LGBTI persons.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul MP Mahmut Tanal, CHP Malatya MP Veli Ağbaba and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul MP Garo Paylan had brought the issue to the Parliament and asked the Minister for Interior Affairs Sebahattin Öztürk about the assault and what had happened afterwards.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville made a statement regarding the assault of Ördek, reminding  Turkey the commitment it has made for LGBTI persons during the Universal Periodic Review and called on the authorities to take measures for the fight against homophobic, transphobic violence and discrimination.