Best Practice

LGBTI-Friendly Policies and Practices in Turkey

European Parliament Candidate Niyazi Kızılyürek signed LGBTI + Friendly Candidate Pledge

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Queer Cyprus Association has published the press release below [May 25] on Niyazi Kızılyürek signing the LGBTI+ Friendly Pledge, since then Kızılyürek has won a seat at the European Parliament:

The 2019 European Parliament elections come in an increasingly polarized social and political climate. The very core values and standards upon which the EU was founded – respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law – are being called into question and human rights, in particular, the human rights of LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, and Plus) people, are facing a forceful challenge.

Queer Cyprus Association called on European Parliament Candidates to sign LGBTI + Friendly Candidate Pledge in Mid-April for the upcoming European Parliament election. LGBTI + Friendly Candidate Pledge was today signed by `Niyazi Kızılyürek (AKEL)’ as well.

Queer Cyprus Association (QCA), under ILGA Europe, carried out a campaign asking candidates to pledge to stand up for the human rights and equality for all LGBTI+ people in the European Union and beyond and will do so by working to:

  1. Strengthen protection in EU law and policy,
  2. Ensure an enabling environment for LGBTI+ human rights defenders,
  3. Be an ally to underrepresented voices,
  4. Ensure EU leadership on LGBTI+ rights, and
  5. Harnessing the power of their position to advance the human rights of LGBTI+ people.

 

Intersex Session at the 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress

Source: “Intersex Session at 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress,” (3. Üreme Sağlığı Çalışma Kolu Kongresi’nden “interseks” oturumu), kaosgl.org, April 22, 2019, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28115

Şerife Yurtseven from Intersex Anatolia and Caner Yavuz from Intersex Turkey spoke at the 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress organized by the Turkish Medical Students Association.

Şerife Yurtseven from Intersex Anatolia and Caner Yavuz from Intersex Turkey were speakers at the 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress organized by the Turkish Medical Students Association on April 20-21.

The congress was organized for the first time in 2011. To raise medical students’ awareness on reproductive health, it focuses on issues related to HIV/AIDS as well as sexuality/gender.

Şerife Yurtseven from Intersex Anatolia and Caner Yavuz from Intersex Turkey shared what it means to be intersex with doctor candidates in the session named, “Gender Limits in Medicine”. By sharing experiences, the speakers talked about ethical concerns regarding the treatment of intersex people.

Yurtseven and Yavuz pointed out the importance of providing psychosocial support to parents of intersex children; and mentioned that doctors should not objectify intersex bodies by disregarding intersex rights and categorizing them using a binary gender system.

Non-Binary

Source: Non-binary (Serkan Kasapoğlu, Gökkuşağı Forumu) Kaos GL, 28 January 2019 http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27461

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Non-binary is used for gender identities that are not limited within the borders of masculine or feminine identities. It rejects the idea of binary gender. On the other hand, since the definition changes from person to person, it is useful to ask people who say they are non-binary, what the definition of non-binary is for them. Some may define their gender as both male and female, as well as calling themselves non-binary, and others can identify themselves as non-binary by saying they are neither male nor female. In addition, it can also be used as an umbrella term that covers all the genders outside of the binary gender framework.

Can a person be trans and non-binary at the same time?

Yes. There can be cases that a person does not define oneself with the gender assigned by birth and states as being out of the binary gender framework.

Non-binary pronouns and language

In almost everywhere in today’s world, people are defined according to their appearances. Discourses, which maintain and support the binary gender system by addressing to masses as “Ladies and Gentlemen”, are some of the unfavourable parts of daily life. How to address non-binary people is important for them and the correct manner of address is a way for these people to feel comfortable with their gender.

-Are you a girl or a boy?

-I AM NEITHER!

Makeup

I am going to Rome with one of my friends tomorrow. I am so excited; however, there is something bothering me for a while. I want to talk about it with my friend.

The last night before going to Rome

“I do not know, I thought a lot during the last few weeks when I was alone. I guess I am planning to resume taking hormones.”

“Why? You looked like you were sure that this was not the thing you wanted.”

“The change that I had during the time I took hormones was actually the one I wanted. Day by day, I started to look like the way I wished to be.

“Your appearance didn’t change much after you quit taking them.”

“I don’t think so. I feel like I am going back the long way I came. I feel less and less happy with my image in the mirror. No matter how confused I felt when I was taking hormones, I was happy for the things that I did to my appearance. I felt more free with a more feminine look.”

“The hormones won’t make you more feminine. Look at me, my oestrogen level is much higher than my testosterone level, but I define myself as masculine and express myself to the world in this way. Now, no one calls me a feminine woman. Everybody knows me as masculine. Because I see and define myself that way. If you want to be and look feminine, you don’t need any supplement. You can become feminine once you believe you are being one and then define yourself that way.

“I guess you are right.”

First day in Rome

“Humph, this suitcase is really heavy.”

“Come on, you are a guy, you can carry it.”

Third day in Rome

“You are a sweet boy.”

Fifth day in Rome

“Look, this old man is your future self. But you will be wearing makeup and be whinier.”

Recently, I have been trying some ways to be the one I wanted to be. This was hormone, makeup, or clothes; but none of them made me feel, like enough. I wonder if I know who I want to be. I have always felt something missing on the road that I started to walk without knowing where I wanted to go. Whenever I felt like doing right, some barriers were created before me, and I stumbled. Why don’t they just allow me to look like and behave how I wish? Even my closest friends give me the things which I fear most. Why do they act like my appearance has to determine my gender? I want to be feminine most of the time, but I don’t want to be a woman. I want to be masculine sometimes, but I don’t want to be a man.

The fact that people call me a man when I look masculine prevents me from being masculine and the fact that they call me as a woman when I look feminine prevents me from being feminine. Even my friend, who said to me the previous day that your appearance does not define your gender, can easily tell me that they see me as a man when I step outside without wearing any makeup the next day. Then, they can say to me in the same moment “You don’t need to wear makeup or take hormones in order to be seen feminine.” Due to this contradiction, all the things they said earlier lose their significance. Now, I don’t know what I will do. I want to use makeup, not because other people can understand that I am not a man, but because I want to look like that way on that day.

Then, they ask me why I care how other people think. Because how they think does not allow me to be the way I want to be. They don’t allow me to be feminine or masculine. They do their best to shape me into how they perceive me. And I stumble whenever I try to step outside of their perceptions.  

*The articles at KaosGL.org Gökkuşağı Forumu (Rainbow Forum) are under the responsibility of their authors. The fact that the articles are published at KaosGL.org does not mean that the opinions at the articles reflect the opinions of KaosGL.org. As a translation of the KaosGL.org article, LGBTI News Turkey should also emphasise that the views seen here are those of the author and that the views expressed here don’t necessarily represent those of LGBTI News Turkey.

Istanbul Medical Chamber’s “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” Panel

LGBTI+ rights and health were the topics of discussion in the panel, “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” organized by the Istanbul Medical Chamber Women’s Commission.

Source: “Istanbul Medical Chamber’s “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” Panel ” (İstanbul Tabip Odası’ndan “Cinsel Yönelim ve Cinsiyet Kimlikleri” paneli), kaosgl.org, January 25, 2019, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27446

The Panel “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities”, the fourth in the panel series “Different Faces of Sexuality” organized by the Istanbul Medical Chamber (IMC) Women’s Commission, was held on January 17.

IMC president, Dr. Pınar Saip, moderated the panel held at IMC’s Cağaloğlu building. The panelists included psychiatrist Seven Kaptan, psychiatrist Şahika Yüksel, and Can Candan, Bosphorus University faculty member and director of the documentary ‘My Child.’

In her opening speech, Dr. Pınar Saip said that sex education is not adequately covered in medical training, and for this reason, organizing a panel like this is very important.

Myths, Facts

Dr. Seven Kaptan talked about common misconceptions held by society in her talk titled, “Myths/Facts About Sexual Orientation.” Kaptan stated that until the recent past, homosexuality was considered an illness and with the expansion in freedoms in the 20th century, perspectives have changed. Homophobia could be present in anyone and therapy involves working with internalized homophobia. She said there are doctors who have the inclination to require hormone testing from their patients, but that this has no scientific grounding. Kaptan ended her talk quoting from Yıldırım Türker: “A man can love a man, a woman can love a woman. The second sentence that you formulate will be a political one.”

Changes in Medicine

Another speaker in the panel, Dr. Şahika Yüksel talked about how the medical profession has treated trans individuals in her talk titled “Examining and Guiding Teens and Adults with Gender Dysphoria.” Yüksel shared information on transgender transition processes and the legal procedures in Turkey.

“My Child”

Can Candan, Bosphorus University faculty member and the director of the documentary “My Child” was the last speaker in the panel. Candan said that he was excited to see LISTAG (Families and Friends of LGBTI individuals) at the “Queer, Turkey, and Identity Conference” organized at Bosphorus University in 2010. He said this motivated him to make a documentary.

Candan ended his talk by mentioning LGBTI+ themed films and documentaries.

The panel ended with attendee questions and comments.

4th Mediterranean Symposium Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia

 

Source: “4th Mediterranean Symposium Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia”, (4. Homofobi, Bifobi, Transfobi Karşıtı Akdeniz Sempozyumu Nasıl Geçti), kaosgl.org, January 25, 2019, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27450

 

Yağmur Arıcan of Mersin’s 7 Colors Association spoke with kaosgl.org about the 4th Mediterranean Symposium Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

The 4th Mediterranean Symposium Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia was held on January 18-20 at the Mersin Kültürhane and the Atlıhan Hotel.

In the three-day event, mental health professionals, counselors, attorneys, labor unions and professional organizations discussed LGBTI+ rights. Yağmur Arıcan of the Mersin based 7 Colors Association spoke with kaosgl.org about the symposium events.

Arıcan said that this year they centered the symposium on mental healthcare, legal and labor rights, and organized it in collaboration with the Mersin Bar Association: “We prepared the program in collaboration with the Mersin Bar Association and throughout the planning process, we took local dynamics into consideration. On the first day of the symposium, we hosted psychologists and social workers, on the second day, attorneys and on the last day, labor unions and trade associations.”

Arıcan said that on the first day of the symposium, after Dr. Seven Kaptan’s presentation on the myths and facts about sexuality, psychologist Fahriye Cengiz of Mersin’s 7 Colors Association spoke about what needs be taken into consideration in LGBTI+ mental healthcare: “Apart from mental health professionals, families of LGBTI+ individuals also participated in this session. What emerged from these sessions was the decision to create a web for mental healthcare consultancy services. The session also helped raise the awareness of families of LGBTI+ individuals.”

“Attorney Bilgin Yeşilboğaz of the Mersin Bar Association gave the opening speech on the second day of the symposium. Yeşilboğaz talked about LGBTI+ rights. Afterwards, attorney Neşe Öztürk of the Hatay Bar Association talked about the legal procedures for transgender transition processes. Attorney Ahmet Çevik of the Antalya Bar Association talked about the legislation regarding sex work; Attorney Ezgi Özkan of the Mersin Bar Association talked about LGBTI+ client and attorney relations, and the last speaker, Attorney Hatice Karaca of the Ankara Bar Association talked about refugee LGBTI+ individuals’ access to law. After this session, attendees in Ahmet Toksöz’s workshop, split into groups of three and transformed a given case into a strategic case. This workshop was limited to only 45 attorney participants, but due to a high level of interest, we ended up having 60 participants. I think the most important outcome of this session was the decision for the bar association to create a web for legal consultancy services which has mostly been dependent on personal relations.”

Arıcan explained that the theme for the third day of the symposium was “labor”, focusing on LGBTI+ individuals’ relations with labor unions and trade associations. “The first speaker, Remzi Altunpolat of Kaos GL Association, talked about how the fight for rights could be made into a common pursuit. Özge Göncü, branch chair of Mersin Health and Social Services Labor Union (SES) talked about LGBTI+ visibility. The last speaker, Ayşe Jini Güneş of Mersin Chamber of Physicians talked about the healthcare breaches LGBTI+ individuals experience. The symposium ended with the screening of the film “Pride”.”

 

December 1 World AIDS Day Events in Turkey

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The LGBTI+ Community in Turkey marks World AIDS Day 2018 with engaging activities . Despite the restraining political environment in Turkey, LGBTI+ activism has been growing stronger and one field where it has consolidated its efforts is in raising awareness on testing for HIV and focus on the lives of HIV+ individuals. In this article, we introduce organizations working for HIV awareness and events that will mark the day this year.

 

Pozitifiz (We are Positive) is a non-governmental organization that approaches the HIV issue from a human rights perspective, seeking to increase access to better healthcare for HIV+ individuals and abolish prejudices against them and their families to provide better living conditions. Most of the founders are HIV+ individuals who have been active in the field for many years.

 

Red Ribbon Istanbul is another civil society organization which strives to expand the channels of information for HIV awareness. They aim to “communicate scientifically-grounded HIV-related information to all parts of society, using clear and easy-to-understand language.”  Red Ribbon Istanbul also works to foster collaboration of private sector, civil society and state actors in order to increase opportunities for safe and anonymous testing, diagnosis and treatment.

 

Red Ribbon Istanbul and Pozitifiz joined forces for their #hivcokdegisti campaign, which says “HIV has changed, have we?”. The campaign circulates statements aiming to rid the public sphere from prejudices about HIV+ individuals and HIV+ living, reminding all of us that “HIV is not only a matter for those who live with HIV, but also for everybody else”. You can read their joint statement for World AIDS Day 2018 on this link.

 

This year, Pozitifiz also participated in the meeting for GSK (GlaxoSmithKline)’s World AIDS Day 2018 Campaign , titled “Kendin İçin 1 Aralık” (December 1 For Yourself) which introduces the stories of HIV+ individuals through their own narratives, inviting everyone to share their own support messages with the #dokun (#touch) hashtag, in an effort to overcome the barriers of fear and prejudice. The campaign also urges everyone to get an HIV test and to learn more about AIDS.

 

Hevi LGBTI Association and Boysan’ın Evi (Boysan’s House) marks the day with a panel titled “HIV/AIDS and Isolation on the basis of gender: Women Tell Their Stories”. The panel is to take place on December 2, 17:00-19:00 at Boysan’s House with the participation of panelists Çiğdem Şimşek and Müzeyyen Araç. Hevi LGBTI has also published multilingual pamhplets and is organizing two more panels on December 1, titled “HIV through Letters” and “AIDS in Turkey- Recent Medical Methods and Studies”.

 

Dramaqueer Art Collective which has recently opened its art base in Tarlabaşı will host a talk titled “M.Paniği” (“M. Panic”) on the first known and sensationalized AIDS case in Turkey. Murteza Elgin, a successful vocalist and manager, became the target of a media circus, finding out about his own HIV+ condition through the very news that stigmatized him. Serdar Soydan will introduce M’s story and the struggle against fear and prejudice in this talk.

 

On World AIDS Day 2018 there will also be an exhibition opening at Operation Room at American Hospital, titled “Positive Space”. The exhibition invitation states that it “opens discussions about themes, directly related to HIV/AIDS, such as visibility and stigma, victimhood and guilt, pleasure and disease as well as subjective bodies recording, separating, accepting and rejecting, infecting and spreading in opposition to ideological and medical bodies. Even though the exhibition affirms ‘positivity,’ it reserves the right to see AIDS as a metaphor. The unrepressed HIV does not destroy the cell, it attacks and emaciates it, just like masculine domination or bio-power practices do. “Positive Space” looks for new contamination technologies against these practices.” Read more about it in this link.

 

To make the World AIDS Day more visible, Kaos GL and Pozitifiz Association has published ads on two dailies (Evrensel and Birgün) with Aslı Alpar’s illustrations with the title “End Stigmatization and Discrimination”.

 

Kaos GL’s Social Services Studies Group has published a statement on World AIDS Day 2018 drawing attention to the discrimination HIV+ individuals face. Here is the statement:

 

“We are disappointed to see that discourses on December 1 World AIDS Day solely focus on the increase in the number of individuals living with HIV. We believe that it is not possible to ignore the discrimination that people living with HIV experience in many realms of life. This discrimination not only affects the psychosocial wellbeing of people living with HIV negatively, but also prevents people living with HIV from accessing social services efficiently. People living with HIV have equal rights with everyone else, from the right to healthcare to the right to work, from the right to education to the right to accomodation.

 

As the Kaos GL Social Services Studies Group we fight for the people with HIV’s access to their rights and we will continue our fight. We are conscious of the responsibility and duty that social services experts and other professionals working in the field of psychological healthcare bear.

 

HIV can be controlled. What matters is that hatred, discrimination and pressure against people living with HIV is controlled.

 

Happy December 1 World AIDS Day!”

 

Illustration: Aslı Alpar

 

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.

 

 

 

Sputnik: Turkish Constitutional Court rules sex workers cannot be fined on the Law of Misdemeanors

Upon the application of a transsexual sex worker, the Turkish Constitutional Court decided that police officers cannot issue fines against sex workers based on the Law of Misdemeanors. The high court approved the verdict with majority of votes and the decision would establish a precedent.

Source: “Constitutional Court: Sex workers can not be fined on Law of Misdemeanors” (“AYM: Seks işçilerine Kabahatlar Kanunu’ndan para cezası kesilemez”), Sputnik, 21.12.2017, https://tr.sputniknews.com/turkiye/201712211031491432-aym-seks-iscisi-para-cezasi/

According to a report by Deniz Ayas of Sözcü daily newspaper, a police squad issued a fine against a sex worker based on Law of Misdemeanors No. 5326 as she was waiting for clients in a 2014 incident. The sex worker protested the fine of 91 Turkish Liras and took it to the court. Yet the local court ruled for the law enforcers.

After the appeals procedures, the sex worker took the case to the Constitutional Court where her objection was evaluated. The detailed ruling was issued in the Official Gazette Thursday and included striking evaluations.

The verdict, which is to become a legal precedent was reached with a majority of votes and found the sex worker to be right, emphasizes that the procedure carried out based on the Law of Misdemeanors No.5326 dated March 30, 2005 cannot be valid.

The Law of Misdemeanors does not include prostitution bargaining

The reason for the ruling was stated as the noncompliance between the act of “disturbing others with the aim of prostitution” as reported on the administrative fine of the police officer and the article defined on Art. 37 of Law No. 5326; suggesting that in this incident the act “does not correspond to prostitution”.

“It cannot be fined”

 

It was stressed that the verdict was made based on the principle “No one can be fined due to an act which is not considered criminal based on the law in force at the time. No one can be sentenced to a heavier sentence than the one defined for that crime at the time the crime was committed”. As a result, it was decided that the right of the transvestite* was violated and that the 2 thousand lira cost of “judicial procedures” be paid to her. One member of Constitutional Court objected to the verdict.

Verdict sets legal precedent

The verdict sets a legal precedent for the practices that will follow. This means that the police will not be able to fine sex workers waiting for clients on the streets and avenues ‘just because they are waiting for clients’.

Translator’s Note: The original article uses the words “transsexual” and “transvestite” interchangeably. The article was translated verbatim so as to demonstrate the original wording of the reporting.

For more on the use of the Law of Misdemeanors, please see these translations.

Bianet: Sedef Çakmak is elected as the Chair of Rainbow Rose

LGBTI activist and Beşiktaş Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak is elected as Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose, the LGBTI network of Europe’s social democrat and socialist parties.

Source: “Sedef Çakmak is elected as the Chair of Rainbow Rose” (“Sedef Çakmak, Rainbow Rose Başkanı Seçildi”), bianet, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/191068-sedef-cakmak-rainbow-rose-baskani-secildi, October 30, 2017.

Rainbow Rose, a network comprised of the LGBTI platforms established within the European social democrat and socialist parties, had its general assembly in Stockholm, Sweden.

The assembly meeting was held between October 27-29, and LGBTI activists Elif Avcı of Şişli Municipality’s Equality Unit and Beşiktaş Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak participated in the assembly representing the Republican People’s Party (CHP) of Turkey.

Rainbow Rose has been fighting for LGBTI rights since 2006 as a part of PES (Party of European Socialists), of which CHP is also a member. Çakmak was elected as the Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose.

“Alliance with other LGBTI organizations strengthens us”

Speaking to Yıldız Tar of Kaos GL Çakmak stated:

“In these days when Turkey is getting more and more authoritarian and when different voices are sought to be silenced, we recognize how strengthening it is for people living in Turkey to be in solidarity with other LGBTI organizations around the world. Aside from this, LGBTI struggles for rights do not only produce policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity but also on refugees, union rights, gender equality, rule of law, areas which have an impact on all sectors of society. In today’s world where the global flow of information has accelerated, I believe it would be lacking to make policies detached from the rest of the world.”

“Both as a Turkish citizen and a local politician who is an LGBTI activist, I hope that the fact that I was chosen as the Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose will play a part in transcending the increasing bias against our country abroad due to the malpractices of the government which undermine democracy.”

Çakmak was a CHP candidate in the 2014 local elections and has been an alderwoman in Beşiktaş Municipality since then. Çakmak is the first openly homosexual politician in Turkey.

Pink Life goes to Hamburg!

Pink Life QueerFest selection to be screened at International Queer Film Festival in Hamburg. The 28th Hamburg International Queer Film Festival (aka LSF/ Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage) will take place between October 17-22, 2017. Germany’s largest and longest-running LGBT film festival celebrates its 28th year as a volunteer-based and independent organization, with its principles of “autonomy, equality, and self determination”.  Here is the invitation to the selection of films from Ankara-based Pink Life QueerFest to be featured:

“A selection of Turkish short films from Ankara’s Pink Life QueerFest: TRANSVESTITES is a pioneering mockumentary on the highly problematic representation of trans* sex workers in the media. PRINCE CHARMING, DON’T COME IN VAIN, a collective audiovisual claim to the existence of lesbians in Turkey. Experimental and fascinating, OVER TIME tells the stories of four workers. In CHILD’S PLAY Derin hides an adult secret in the toy-box filled with her childhood memories. The documentary LGBTI IN THE HOOD reflects the LGBTI community’s perspective on their neighbourhoods. MOIRA is a tribute to three LGBTI* activists who lost their lives in a traffic accident in September 2015. And in fragments of a roundtable: pink life discusses archiving the Pink Life team gathers around a not-so-round-table and discusses the archives of the QueerFest.”

For more info please visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/315944492205182

Kaos GL: LGBTI billboards on the streets of Cyprus once more!

LGBTI awareness billboards are once more on the streets of North Cyprus after the attacks of last year!

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Source: Kaos GL, “Kıbrıs’ta bir kez daha LGBTİ billboardları sokakta!” http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24490 September 1, 2017

The LGBTI awareness billboard campaign we launched last year in North Cyprus was attacked. Kuir Kıbrıs (Queer Cyprus) Association filled the streets once more this year with billboards for equality and freedom in spite of the attacks.

The new billboard campaign prepared within the scope of “Unspoken Project” (“Konuşulmayan Projesi”) was launched in order to call attention to the need for everyone to live as a human, without being othered or discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The billboards bear explanations of sexual orientation and gender identities such as “lesbian”, “gay”, “heterosexual”, “transsexual” and “intersex”.

Transformation of prejudices such as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia is among the objectives of the campaign.

Attacks against last year’s campaign

Last year in November,  billboards which read “Brother Kamil, I’m lesbian” and “Auntie Mediha, I’m gay” were placed around Girne, Mağusa, Lefkoşa, İskele, Lefke ve Karpaz. However, the LGBTI awareness billboards  in the cities in North Cyprus were first attacked and then taken down by the municipality.

What’s the Unspoken/Konuşulamayan Project?

“Unspoken: Creating Dialogue on LGBTI Rights in the Turkish Cypriot Community” (“Konuşulmayan: Kıbrıs Türk Toplumunda LGBTİ Haklarıyla İlgili Diyaloğu Güçlendirmek Projesi”) aims to increase awareness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people in key sectors such as media, education, law and health; in order to struggle against the discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, to create social change and [improve] public opinion and to ameliorate media representation in Turkish Cypriot communities.

Kuir Kıbrıs Association is a civil society movement conducting work struggling against discrimination agaınst sexuality, sexual expression, sexual orientation and gender identity. Kuir Kıbrıs actively works to support LGBTI rights in various fields such as law, education and psychology.

Evrensel: Gender and LGBTIs in Alevism*

Source: Ali Kenanoğlu, “Alevilikte Cinisyet ve LGBTI’ler,” Evrensel, 21 July, 2017 https://www.evrensel.net/yazi/79533/alevilikte-cinsiyet-ve-lgbtiler

In prevalent faiths or religions with holy books, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the attitude towards individuals with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) sexual identity is very rigid.

Every year the biggest threats against the LGBTIs who want to organize a Pride March come from the “nationalist Muslims.” As a matter of fact, in Turkey, nationalism, i.e. Turkism, and Islam are not thought of as separate things. Nationalism in Turkey receives acceptance as long as it is united with Sunni Islam. So much so that Turkmen Alevis were not accepted as Turks before the 1980s, and Christian Gagauz Turks were deported in the early years of the republic.

Despite some different approaches to LGBTIs by certain Muslims, such as the Anticapitalist Muslims going against Semawi religions’ approach, the general perception and definition is “pervert, perverted.” Considering these definitions, every mistreatment and attack against LGBTIs and even massacres are seen acceptable and in fact considered as “they deserve it.”

It’s not possible for LGBTI members of the Semawi community to worship without hiding their identity. Because, based on past experience, we all know that they have no safety in the mosque they’ll enter.

In Alevism, however, there is no gender discrimination. In the Alevi mass worship ritual, cem [pronounced as jam — Trans.], everyone is referred to as “Can [or jaan, meaning “life” or “the essence which gives one life” but also used as a name with the extended meaning “dear” –Trans.], Cem Saints” which are gender-free descriptions. There is no gender discrimination in Alevism, however, individuals who fail to comprehend Alevism, make gender discrimination and LGBTI discrimination as they do in other faiths.

Despite many examples, there are still those who couldn’t grasp, understand, comprehend Alevism, those even arguing that women cannot take a “post” [a seat reserved for a high ranking leader in Alevi hierarchy –Trans.] and lead the cem.

A couple of days ago, Alevis Union Federation in Germany made one of the most important statements of recent years and presented Alevis’ approach to jaans with LGBTI sexual identity which was not declared to public until now probably because there was no occasion.

The statement with the title “the ka’bah of our belief is human, its pilgrim is jaan” included the following sentences; “Our association, not only disregards all the common prejudices against LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex) individuals but also does not consider the unwarranted statements based on these prejudices worth discussing. We refuse all the approaches, advocated by conservative fractions starting with the AKP, which make representation of homosexuals in public space difficult. As an association, we do not only fight against the marginalization of the Alevi community. Our belief that brings forth the concept of “Jaan,” instead of the concept of congregation that exists in panislamist societies, rejects every kind of discrimination. The Alevi community whose ka’bah is human, sees everything as a reflection of Haq [Allah, the fair and noble one — Trans.]. Our teaching does not discriminate based on language, religion, nationality, color, gender. Humanity is the most sacred value.

We defend a social order that delivers all the rights extorted from all individuals starting from women, far from male-dominant understanding and rest on the ideal of equality amongst genders.

In addition, we demand the impunity and guarantee of private lives, and an end to social grudge and hatred. At this point, our ground is respecting human rights including all the members of society.”

The approach in Alevism towards gender identities is best summed up by the Sovereign Haji Bektash Veli’s following words:
“In the language of friendly conversation, one does not ask about male-female,
Everything Haq created is in its proper place,
In our view there is no female-male difference,
Flaw and lack is in your view.”

With love…

*Alevism is a mystical branch of Islam whose adherents follow the teachings of Caliph Ali.

Municipal Equality Index is in Turkey for More LGBTI Friendly Municipalities

SPoD LGBTI transfers Municipal Equality Index Project to Turkey. The index serves as a roadmap for municipal services to include LGBTIs.

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Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu “Daha Fazla LGBTİ Dostu Belediye İçin Belediye Eşitlik Endeksi Projesi Türkiye’de” (“Municipal Equality Index is in Turkey for More LGBTI Friendly Municipalities”)  Bianet, 27 January 2017 http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/183068-daha-fazla-lgbti-dostu-belediye-icin-belediye-esitlik-endeksi-projesi-turkiye-de

Sosyal Politikalar Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği (SPoD) [Trans. Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association] transfers Municipal Equality Index project to Turkey.

SPoD, which builds a bridge between local governments and LGBTI activists, aims to highlight the practices performed by LGBTI friendly municipalities by using this index and encourage LGBTI friendly practices across Turkey in the long run.

Municipal Equality Index, (MEI), which has been in practice in the US for five years, is now spread across 506 cities. The index evaluates the extent to which the municipalities include LGBTIs in the law, policies and practices.  Anti-discrimination laws, the assessment of the municipality as an employer, the level of inclusion of services, the law enforcers and of course the public stances of the mayors regarding equality are points of evaluation. Scores are given based on the criteria defined under these headings. Every year a report card is given according to their level of compliance with these criteria and those which get high scores are rewarded.

In the meeting of the partners of the project the criteria of Municipality Equality Index Project planned to be applied in Turkey were discussed, with the participation of Ankara Çankaya Municipality, Bursa Nilüfer Municipality, Çanakkale Municipality, Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, İstanbul Şişli Municipality, İstanbul Kadıköy Municipality, İstanbul Beylikdüzü Municipality, İstanbul Beşiktaş Municipality, İzmir Karabağlar Municipality and Mersin Akdeniz Municipality.

5 Municipalities that Signed LGBTI Friendly Municipality Protocol

Since it was founded, SPoD has been conducting studies for the local governments to include LGBTIs. The association had prepared the LGBTI Friendly Municipality Protocol before the local elections of March 30, 2014 and the protocol was signed by 40 mayor candidates from BDP, CHP, DSP, HDP and TKP. Currently there are five municipalities which have signed the protocol: CHP’s Istanbul Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, Şişli Municipalities and Bursa Nilufer Municipality, DBP’s Mersin Akdeniz Municipality. (Akdeniz Municipality was appointed a trustee on December 18 and its Equality Unit and all its activities were halted.)

“Equality Index is a road map”

SPoD project coordinator Neyir Zerey says that Municipality Equality Index Project can be considered as a continuation of the protocol prepared before the local election and she adds:

“ The number of municipalities which are active on LGBTI related issues is actually more than five. Aside from that, there are municipalities that would like to do something about the issue but has not carried out any activities yet and does not know how to proceed.

“ The evaluation criteria on the index is a road map, an action plan. After that the argument ‘We want to do something but do not know how’ will cease to be.”

What are the potential criteria?

The work on Municipality Equality Criteria continues, currently the criteria are listed under four main headings:

Under the heading “Institutionalization of awareness” there are over ten criteria such as trainings inside and outside the institution, the inclusion of the terms of gender and sexual orientation in the strategic plans, the preparation of the budgets with regards to LGBTI needs, the acceptance of the anti-discrimination rules by the companies that are employed by the municipalities, and establishing Equality Units.

Criteria such as relations with LGBTI community and associations, support for special days and commemorations are listed under “LGBTI Presence in Participatory Municipality”.

Under the heading “LGBTI Awareness in Services”, there are articles on the facilitation of the LGBTIs’ access to services.

The last title is “Public visibility, reputation and esteem”. These are criteria such as sharing messages to increase the recognition and visibility of the LGBTIs and using billboards and others outdoors screens for gender equality.

Rainbow Cities Network

İstanbul Beşiktaş Belediyesi ve İstanbul Şişli Belediyesi. There are currently two municipalities which are members of the network: İstanbul Beşiktaş Municipality and Istanbul Şişli Municipality.

Gizem Aykanat from Equality Unit of Beylikdüzü Municipality:

Equality Unit was recently established in our municipality. Right now we are working more on women’s issues. We directed our attention on these issues in our action plan and as “disadvantaged groups” in our regulations. Surely there is a concern about getting reactions, we have already experienced problems with our partners and our own employees while talking about male-female relationships and had some obstacles.  We listened to Nilüfer Municipality’s experiences in the meeting, and they told us that they went to the schools, and that they have received both positive and negative reactions on  the work they did with LGBTIs. This motivated us. From now on we will focus more on LGBTI issues and try to work with the articles in the index.

Çankaya Municipality Women and Family Services Director Asiye Ülkü Karaalioğlu:

We scheduled activities regarding the LGBTIs in our municipality’s Local Equality Action Plan. But we are a new directorate. This meeting has been very productive on communication and planning what we can do by looking at what is happening at other municipalities. Each criteria is a task on its own. Now we know what we need to do. This has been a road map for us. I think it’s practical, though we might need to spend some time with higher administrations. If we give them  training first, maybe our task will be easier.

Ali Sevilen from Equality Unit of Bursa Nilüfer Municipality:

Equality Units are not very active in Turkey unfortunately.  We are trying our best to be active together with Şişli, Beşiktaş, and Mersin Akdeniz Municipalities.  We believe that working only on gender  equality is futile, and we don’t think it’s possible without the LGBTI work.  The LGBTI movement is actually a milestone for gender  equality, the vegan-vegetarian movements, anti-discrimination and the anti-violence struggle. The Index Project is very valuable. The equality work in municipalities should become a policy so that these activities can continue even when the administration changes.

Boysan’s dream comes true: Equality Unit in Şişli Municipality!

The launch of the Şişli Municipality Social Equality Unit will take place on October 22. Boysan Yakar will be commemorated that night.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Boysan’ın hayali gerçek oldu: Şişli’de Eşitlik Birimi!”, (“Boysan’s dream comes true: Equality Unit in Şişli Municipality!”), kaosGL.org, 20 October 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20380

Şişli Municipality has established a Social Equality Unit. The process that began with Boysan Yakar’s work as Advisor to Mayor Hayri İnönü has come to fruition and the unit has begun its work.

The Equality Unit’s establishment will be announced with a launch at 19:30 on Thursday, October 22 at the municipality’s new service building. Boysan Yakar, who lost his life in a traffic accident, will also be remembered that night.

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“Different politics for a more equal world”

Lambdaistanbul LGBTI activist Elif Avcı who began working at the Social Equality Unit explained the unit’s establishment to KaosGL.org:

After the 2014 local elections, talks began with municipalities which signed the LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol to hold them to their promises. In the strategic planning phase of this process, we spoke with the Şişli Municipality as LGBTI associations and communicated our requests to be included in the strategic planning. The Equality Unit was one of these demands. Then Boysan Yakar, who began working as the mayor’s advisor at the Şişli Municipality, followed up on these demands and after his struggle for a year and half, the equality unit within the municipality has been founded.

This unit will serve to create equalitarian and participatory politics for LGBTI, people with disabilities, senior citizens, minorities, refugees, children, youth, and women. Boysan could not see the establishment of the unit he worked so hard for. So as much as the unit excites me, it also breaks my heart. We are working in a place where we feel Boysan’s loss every day. On the other hand, we don’t have the luxury to fail his hard work. With his inspiration, we are trying to make real a different politics for a more equal world.

Municipalities in Rainbows for Istanbul Pride Week

Municipalities covered their social media accounts in rainbows during LGBTI Pride Week. With the legalization of gay marriage in all states in the US, rainbow shares on social media rose.

Source: Hakan Özkan, “Belediyeler gökkuşağına boyandı,” (“Municipalities in Rainbows,”) KaosGL.org, 29 June 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19728

For the first time ever, Turkey’s municipalities- all of them from the Republican People’s Party- provided services for the pride parade. Çankaya municipality provided a bus to transport pride parade participants from Ankara to Istanbul. Beşkitaş municipality provided the 60 meter rainbow flag for pride parade. Şişli municipality covered production and printing costs for brochures and posters.

Beşiktaş Municipality Hosted a Pride Week Reception

Beşiktaş Municipality organized a reception for LGBTI pride week on Saturday, 27 June. Mayor Murat Hazinedar supported [and spoke at] the reception, which was organized by Beşiktaş Municipal Assembly member and LGBTI activist Sedef Çakmak.

Rainbows on Social Media

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.31.54Nilüfer Municipality [in Bursa], “For the love of rainbow! Long live the equality of colors!”

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Kadıköy Municipality [in Istanbul] shared a photograph of a rainbow shot from the municipality and wrote “The rainbow will never leave Kadıköy.”

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Şişli Municipality [in Istanbul] shared a Şişli rainbow map and tweeted “We always love Şişli with all its colors, we all exist together!” while mentioning Lambdaistanbul. Şişli municipality also hosted the Genetically Modified Tomato Awards.

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On 27 June, Odunpazarı Municipality [in Eskişehir] tweeted “Love is to organize #LoveWins”. A twitter user called emrahdal replied to the tweet by saying “my municipality cannot be the only one to support this kind of Love that is disgusting!!!” Odunpazarı Municipality replied by saying, “Are you homophobic by birth or did it happen later? Get well. We can help with treatment.”

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Tepebaşı Municipality [in Eskişehir] tweetedLove will always win”

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Maltepe Municipality [in Istanbul] tweeted “Let go of homophobia, let’s look at the sky”

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Edremit Municipality [in Balıkesir] tweeted “nobody can interfere with everybody’s life” referring to CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu’s responses on Ekşi Sözlük prior to the elections.

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Ataşehir Municipality [in Istanbul] tweeted “We carry our logo with the rainbow emphasis throughout the 23rd Pride Week” and mentioned KaosGL and Lambdaistanbul.

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Aydın Metropolitan Municipality [in Western Turkey] tweeted “Each color is beautiful. None of them can ask the other ‘why are you different?’… It shouldn’t ask :)” and emphasized individual freedoms.

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Silivri Municipality [in Istanbul] emphasized the importance of unity by sharing both Ramadan and Pride Parade events and tweeting “Today is a beautiful day 🙂 It’s beautiful to live in Silivri”.