Censorship

Censorship and Fines against LGBTI content in Turkey

Kaos GL and Pink Life: Ankara governor’s ban on LGBTI events illegal

Source: “Kaos GL ve Pembe Hayat: Valilik kararı hukuka aykırı,” Nov. 19, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24994

We learned that the governor’s office of Ankara bannedfrom November 18, 2017 onwards, activities of LGBTT-LGBTI organizations such as film screenings, cinevision, theater plays, panels, talks, exhibitions which include certain social sensitivities and sensibilities” via its website.

We will follow legal proceedings on the governor’s illegal, discriminatory and arbitrary ban. There can be no legitimate or legal grounds for such a wholesale ban that touches the core of rights.  

In an omnibus ban with a very wide scope, we are facing a situation that is vague, open to interpretation and rights violations, criminalizing LGBTI existence. LGBTI civil society organizations are respectable institutions working for years to combat discrimination and hate crimes for equal citizenship. This ban, which goes beyond limiting the areas of activity of these institutions and making them inoperable, cannot be accepted in a democratic society.   

Ankara governor’s office’s grounds for the omnibus ban, including the phrases “protecting public health and morality,” “social sensibilities and sensitivities,” “public security” and “protection of other people’s rights and liberties” are clearly discriminatory. This decision legitimizes rights violations and discrimination against LGBTIs.

This decision and the illegal and vague grounds for it violate the very fundamental freedom of expression and association as well as other fundamental rights and freedoms. With this ban, fundamental rights have been interfered with in their essence.

Ankara governor’s office’s decision to ban violates our constitution’s Article 10 on equality and Article 26 on freedom to announce and disseminate thoughts, as well as international agreements Turkey is party to.  

With this announcement the civil administration is endangering public safety by turning LGBTIs and civil society organizations, who are an important part of the public, into targets instead of fulfilling its duty to ensure public security.  

We expect this decision to be rethought and withdrawn in the shortest amount of time. In our country where discrimination and hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity is rampant, it is the duty of national and local administrations to combat this discrimination and hate.

 

Official statement: Ankara governor’s office bans LGBTI events

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Source: Ankara Valiliği, “Yasaklama Kararına İlişkin Basın Duyurusu,” November 19, 2017, http://ankara.gov.tr/yasaklama-kararina-iliskin-basin-duyurusu-19112017

Press Statement Regarding the Ban Decision

It has been noticed through various social media and print and visual media outlets that in different locations around our city activities such as film screenings, cinevision, theater plays, panels, talks, exhibitions etc. which include certain social sensibilities and sensitivities by various civil society organizations under the name of LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or transvestite) and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) are scheduled.

It was decided that the aforementioned social media shares might deliberately incite a certain segment of society with different characteristics of social class, race, religion, sect or region against another segment of society, that this might lead to imminent peril with regards to public security, that also it can harm the protection of other people’s rights and liberties, public health and morality as well as of public order, prevention of crime, and therefore there may be reactions and provocations against the groups and individuals taking part in the organization due to certain social sensibilities.

Due to these circumstances, from November 18, 2017 onwards, activities of LGBTT-LGBTI organizations such as film screenings, cinevision, theater plays, panels, talks, exhibitions which include certain social sensitivities and sensibilities in various locations around our city are banned by our Governorship, based on the Article 11/C of Law Of Provincial Administration No 5442, within the scope of measures to be taken for the provision of peace, security, right to physical integrity and the public order, following Article 17 of Law No. 2911 on Assembly and Demonstration Marches and Article 11/F of Law No. 2935 on State of Emergency.

We respectfully announce the ban to the public.

Istanbul Film Festival Director Responds to Censorship Allegations

Following criticism by LGBTI organizations that Istanbul Film Festival translator censored Sir Ian McKellen’s “as an openly gay man,” the festival’s director Kerem Ayan spoke to dispel censorship allegations and said the festival supports LGBTI movies.  

Kerem Ayan, Istanbul Film Festival Director:

If I may, I want to make a short statement, as I have the opportunity to speak in a conference hall full of people here. Some of you might have seen on social media yesterday. They said, “Ian McKellen said that he was an openly gay man during the opening ceremony of Istanbul Film Festival and that the festival censored it.”

I laughed a lot when I first heard it. I thought, “our audience actually knows who we are, this cannot be true.” Then, we saw that people actually don’t know who we are. This became a big issue on social media.

Why would we censor a person who we invited as a defender of LGBT rights, when we also have a “Where are you my love?” [LGBTI movies] part in the festival. That would be interesting.

I was on the stage, the translator was really just next to me, we were not able to hear clearly what Ian McKellen was saying. There was an acoustic problem and the translator skipped it. It was an unfortunate skip. We didn’t understand why people were reacting and we continued. Later we explained to him the situation as well.

Here, I would like to say again, as Istanbul Film Festival, we neither interfere with our guests’ sexual identities, nor do we prevent them from expressing it clearly. I want that to be known.

On social media, they also wrote that Istanbul Film Festival was “homophobic.” That’s interesting. Now, if you allow me, I would like to invite Ian McKellen to the stage. This would be an answer to those who call us “homophobic.” I hope you will join me.

  • Kerem Ayan: Where are you my love?
  • Crowd: I am here, my love!
  • Sir Ian McKellen: I am here, my love! [1]

Maybe he wants to say a few words.

Sir Ian McKellen:

What a wonderful privilege it is to be in your beautiful city. Invited first by the festival as a film actor and before I knew what was happening, I was meeting the ambassador from my country to your country and the British Council.

[1] “Where are you my love?” or “Nerdesin Aşkım?” and the response “I am here, my love?” or “Buradayım Aşkım” are popular slogans in Turkey chanted by LGBTI individuals and allies.

Kaos GL: Ian McKellen said “as a gay man,” translator ignored!

Sir Ian McKellen was presented an award by the Istanbul Film Festival. During his speech at the opening gala he said, “as an openly gay man” but the translator didn’t translate it into Turkish.

Editor’s note: See the festival’s response here.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Ian McKellen said ‘as a gay man’, interpreter ignored!” Kaos GL, April 5 2017, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=23476

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Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), Istanbul Film Festival’s 36th edition kicked off with an opening gala on Tuesday night, April 4. The opening gala brought the stars and distinguished figures of Turkish cinema together at TİM Show Center where Cinema Honorary Awards and plaques were presented.

Sir Ian McKellen was one of the actors who won an award. During his speech at the gala he said, “as an openly gay man”. However, the translator of the festival ignored this phrase. LGBTI activist Seçil Epik told KaosGL.org what happened during the gala:

“After being invited to the stage by Kerem Ayan, one of the coordinators of Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts Film Festival, to receive his Honorary Award, Ian McKellen started to introduce himself by saying that he is 78, born in England and that he identified himself as an actor from Great Britain. Then he continued his speech with the words “as an openly gay man”, but the simultaneous translator did not translate those words into Turkish. First Kerem Ayan on stage, then the audience who speak English were in a little bit of a shock. Subsequently, even if Ian McKellen understood that something went wrong with the translation and looked at the translator, the program flow continued as if nothing had happened.”

Murathan Mungan: Great shame!

Famous poet and author Murathan Mungan shared the incident from his social media account:

“A great shame happened during the opening gala of the Istanbul Film Festival. As a gay rights activist as well as a great actor, Ian Mckellen started his sentence while mentioning the bans on Turkey and said, “As an openly gay man” however simultaneous interpreter skipped this sentence, censored it. It is worrisome that even in the Istanbul Film Festival organization there are ‘morality guards’ regarding the internalization of fear, oppression, anxiety and homophobia.”

McKellen’s Istanbul program

One of the most beloved actors of the screen and theatre with his outstanding performances in Richard III, Gods and Monsters, Lord of the Rings series and X-Men, Sir Ian McKellen has also been the ambassador of British Council’s Shakespeare Lives programme in 2016 Opens in a new tab or window.

Sir Ian McKellen will be the guest of Istanbul Film Festival by IKSV and receive a cinema honorary award. Sir McKellen will also be meeting LGBT groups to support equality.

Editor’s Note: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts tweeted the following response after Kaos GL’s story.

“An incorrect perception that honorary guest of the 36. @ist_filmfest Sir Ian McKellen’s speech during the opening ceremony was censored.”

“We would like to express that the hitch in the translation @ist_filmfest was caused by sound not reaching the stage during the speech and was not intentional.”

Doğuş Media Group’s Strange Censoring of National Geographic

Both the headline and cover photo of January 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine, published under Doğuş Media Group in Turkey, were strangely censored.

Source: GZone, “Doğuş Dergi Grubundan National Geographic’e Tuhaf Sansür” ( “Doğus Media Group’s Strange Censor to National Geographic”), 2 January 2017, http://gzone.com.tr/dogus-dergi-grubundan-national-geographice-tuhaf-sansur/

The historic issue, which we had covered earlier on GZone, has  9 year-old trans kid Avery Jackson on the cover and the headline reads “Gender Revolution,” i.e.  “Cinsiyet Devrimi” in Turkish.

Avery Jackson, who is the first trans individual to appear on the cover of the 128 year-old magazine, had  reported having received homophobic insults and threats via social media after the publication of the issue.

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Doğuş Media Group, who own the rights of the magazine in Turkey and have been publishing it for the last 17 years, has in a sense censored the cover photo and the headline by mistranslatıng it.

The same issue of the magazine in Turkey did not have the trans kid Avery Jackson on the cover and the headline which should have been translated as  “Cinsiyet Devrimi” [“Gender Revolution” –trans.] was translated as “Cinsiyet Mücadelesi” [“Gender Struggle” –trans] for some reason.

The cover on the Turkish edition of the magazine minimizes the perceived content to heterosexual female and male gender despite content which predominantly addresses LGBTI individuals and the expanding perception of gender.

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Şaban and Recep’s love was acquitted

The trial against the activists carrying a banner that reads “Ramazan can’t interfere with Şaban and Recep’s love*” was concluded. The anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia activists were acquitted.

Source: “Şaban’la Recep’in aşkı beraat etti” (Şaban and Recep’s love was acquitted), kaosgl.org, December 27, 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22706

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The lawsuit was filed with the charges of “deliberately denigrating the religious values adopted by a certain part of the public” (TCK Article 216) against three people carrying a banner that read “Ramazan can’t interfere with Şaban and Recep’s love”, and the second hearing was on December 27. The banner was carried during 2015 Istanbul Pride March, amidst the police assault.

Defendant G.H who was missing at the last hearing and who could not give their testimony, presented their defense at the Istanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance.

In their defense, G.H. indicated that they joined the walk to draw attention to the pressures LGBTIs have to endure and stated “Our intention and our aim was completely peaceful. Police attacked us. After the attack, we continued our walk without any furor. At that moment I saw the banner. I did not know about it. I accompanied as I did not think it included any insult.”

G.H. stressed that the banner did not insult religious values and continued their defense as below:

“The banner is about the love between two months. Therefore there is no insult. In my opinion the complainant is the one who commits the crime of leading the public to rage and hatred because the plaintiff’s attorneys have deliberately stated their discomfort with LGBTI individuals and that the annual and peaceful Pride March leads them to “rage and aggravation”. Such a statement denigrates a certain part of the public.”

The court ruled that the act charged against the defendants was not a crime according to the law and acquitted the defendants.

* Translator’s Note: Ramazan, Şaban and Recep are Turkish names for the three sacred months of Islam, Ramadan, Sha’ban and Rajab. These names are also given as male names in Turkey, hence the pun.

Facebook Censorship of Lesbian Bisexual Feminists

The Facebook page of Lesbian Bisexual Feminists has been shut for the reason of “pornography”. LezBiFem criticized that Facebook continues to censor LGBTIs while simultaneously running campaigns like #LoveWins during Pride Week.

Source: “Lezbiyen Biseksüel Feministlere Facebook Sansürü”, (“Facebook Censorship of Lesbian Bisexual Feminists”), kaosGL, 12 February 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21079

Facebook Turkey’s management shut down the Lesbian Bisexual Feminists’ page. The reason for the censorship was that the content shared on the page “violated [Facebook’s] community standards”.

The most recent contents shared on the page were an invitation to a conference by [women’s rights organization] Mor Çatı, an article titled “Bras; A Product of Patriarchy” on biliyomuydun.com, and the poster for LezBiFem’s planned party on 13 February. When LezBiFem promoted the party poster through advertisements, Facebook had stated that the image did not fit advertising standards.

Campaigns for Pride Week and then censor LGBTIs!

After the closure of their Facebook page, LezBiFem told KaosGL.org that “the Lesbian Bisexual Feminists are now the target of Facebook’s morality”.

LezBiFem said, “We are guessing that our page was removed by Facebook after last night’s post on bras did not abide by community morality” and criticized that Facebook continues to censor LGBTIs when it simultaneously runs campaigns like #LoveWins during Pride Week:

“Facebook supposedly creates a free social arena through its Love Wins campaign throughout Pride Week but has now peaked with its anti-woman, heteronormative, and morality-based example”.   

This is not Facebook’s first LGBTI censorship!

This is not the first time Facebook has censored LGBTIs. Previously during the 2015 Pride Week, the event page “Lesbian Sexual Health: Myths and Truths” was closed due to the community standards reason.

Facebook Turkey’s management had also censored KaosGL.org’s news story titled “Naked against homophobia” in July 2015. The article was removed from shared content for violating community standards.

Facebook’s censorship was not limited to KaosGL.org. Bianet’s news story on Facebook’s censorship of Kaos GL’s article that depicted the Brazilian gay couple who shed their clothes against homophobia was also censored.