Author: lgbtinewsturkey

HDP’s Sancar submits parliamentary question on hate speech and hate crimes committed against LGBTIs

Source: Mithat Sancar, Soru Önergesi, 7 March 2017.

TO THE OFFICE OF GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY of TURKEY

I present below questions to be answered in writing by The Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu in accordance with Article 98 of the Constitution and Articles 96 and 99 of the standing orders.

Mithat Sancar

Mardin MP

It was noted by the press that you have said “Who are you speaking for Ertuğrul Özkök? Do not interfere with things you don’t know, go be with whoever you want to be with, whether it’s the fruity types in America or Europe“ regarding Ertuğrul Özkök, during the “Referendum Consultation Meeting” that took place on March 7, 2017 in Trabzon’s Akçaabat district. On an advisory jurisdiction by Council of Europe Ministers Committee on 1997, hate speech is defined as “all forms of expressions that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance. Even if it does not always constitute a crime on its own, it is an act of strong aggression and silencing by the powerful against the certain populations that are socially disempowered, and it gives way to the hate crimes. The stereotypes created with these words can result in the othering of certain groups, to the incitement of the violence against them or to these groups becoming invisible.

It is clear that the use of the word “nonoş”, which is defined as “homosexual man” in the Turkish dictionary of Turkish Language Institution, with the intention of insult is a sexist and discriminatory discourse. The violence against those “nonoş” as you called them, is ever more intense due to the rampant nationalism. According to Kaos GL’s report, one in every four hate speech is articulated by politicians, no precautions were taken against the posters or news that target LGBTIs.

In March 2016, a trans woman called Buse was found dead in her house, lost her life as a result of assault and hacking inflicted injuries. On March 21 in Çorlu, a trans woman sex worker Aleda was stabbed to death. Hander Kader’s photos resisting police during the banned Pride Walk in June 2015 were published by the press, her body was found completely burnt in Zekeriyaköy on Aug. 8, 2016. Around the same time, Muhammed Wisam Sankari, a gay Syrian refugee who has been living in Istanbul for around a year, was threatened, abducted, raped, decapitated and killed brutally.

It is clear that the violence against the LGBTIs is not always visible, but according to the data published in press, it is certainly established that at least 41 trans individuals were victims of hate murders between the years 2008-2015. Since 2009, over 100 “nonoş”s are estimated to have lost their lives due to hate murders. Harassment, rape and other cases of violence are not even reported. The police force either remains completely insensitive towards these cases or is the very perpetrator of this violence.

Within this scope:

  1. Who did you precisely indicate when you said “nonoş”?
  2. While the LGBTIs are exposed to daily violence in the country you are a minister for, how do you think your use of the word “nonoş” as an insult will effect this violence?
  3. How many LGBTI murders were committed since the day you have become a minister?
  4. How many cases of violence against the LGBTIs have been reported since the day you have become a minister?
  5. Of the cases mentioned in questions 3 and 4, how many perpetrators have been found?
  6. What initiatives did your ministry took in order to solve the unresolved hate murders?

Defendants at Kemal Ördek’s case to be jailed during trial

The court ruled to imprison the defendants who appealed the verdict of jail time and monetary punishment in Kemal Ördek’s case.

Source: Kaos GL, “Kemal Ördek davası sanıkları tutuklu yargılanacak”, 2 March 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23206

The assailants who attacked sex worker and Red Umbrella Association rights advocate Kemal Ördek in July 2015 appealed the verdict of jail time and judicial monetary punishment. On their objection, the file was moved to the Ankara District Court.

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The hearing took place on March 2, 2017 at 11:45 at the Ankara District Court’s 17th Penal Office.

The court ruled to continue the prison sentence of suspect due to evidence of possible theft.

The court also ruled to arrest the two other suspects due to flight risk. One suspect appeared in court while the other did not.

What happened?

The fifth hearing of Kemal Ördek’s sexual assault case took place on Nov. 17, 2016 at Ankara’s First High Penal Court. Kemal Ördek had filed suit for death threats they received after the sexual assault and the case was finalized in October. Following that, the case of sexual assault and extortion concluded at the fifth hearing.

Ankara’s First High Penal Court ruled to punish the assailants who raped and extorted Ördek in their Ankara home with the crimes of qualified sexual assault, theft, threat, insult and depriving a person of their freedom. The suspects were sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.  

 

Intersex Anatolia meets families in Istanbul

Intersex Anatolia met with families in Boysan’s house to share the problems intersex children face.

Source: Kaos GL, “İnterseks Anatolya, İstanbul’da ailelerle buluştu,” kaosGL.org, 24 February 2017, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23145

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The newly founded LADEG+ (LGBTI+ Families and Relatives Support Group) hosted its first event with intersex activities. Intersex Anatolia met witt LADEG+ at Boysan’s House on Feb. 18 to share the problems intersex children face.

Intersex Anatolia activists Şerife, Belgin, Zeynep, Caner ve Evrim joined the event, which was streamed live on Intersex Turkey’s Facebook page.

Activists first shared general information about intersex and continued by explaining paths families can follow for their intersex children with their needs in mind.

The discussion pointed to surgeries on intersex children without consent or without medical necessity. The activists explained that parents should not follow antiquated medical practices and incorrect guidances. They emphasized the psychological and physical trauma intersex individuals face after being exposed to surgical procedures without their consent at an early age.

Şerife also explained the problems intersex children face in rural areas.

Hosts Sema Yakar and Pınar Özer, the founders of LADEG+, said they will continue their work with intersex activists and give priority to the correct guidance for parents of intersex children.

Following the discussion and Q & A session, participants watched videos of Boysan Yakar in the struggle for urban renewal and LGBTI+ rights. LGBTI+ activist Boysan passed away more than a year ago in a traffic accident.

 

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.