Censorship

Censorship and Fines against LGBTI content in Turkey

ILGA-Europe’s #AnnualReview2019 is now out!

Annual Review 2020 report cover.png

 

ILGA Europe’s annual review covering the period of January and December 2019 is published. The Turkey chapter was drafted in coordination with team members of LGBTI News Turkey. Once more, Turkey ranks 48 among 49 countries, with a score of 5%. You can read the Turkey chapter here and the full report here.

Below we share the press release on the report:

Annual Review of the situation of LGBTI people paints a picture at odds with a widespread notion that in Europe the work is done

Launched today [February 4, 2020] , the 10th edition of ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review details the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people across the 49 European countries, and the five countries of Central Asia. Created with LGBTI activists and experts on the ground, the Review also identifies trends, both current and on the rise.

This year’s review, which charts developments during the 12 months of 2019, paints a complex picture that diverges from the widespread narrative that all is well for LGBTI people in large parts of Europe. Central to this is a sharp rise in anti-LGBTI hate speech carried out by public figures across Europe – in countries ranging from Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey, to Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain – and the very real consequences of this for LGBTI individuals and groups. In many countries across the European and Central Asian regions, and not only those with a documented growth in official bias-motivated speech, there has also been an equally sharp increase in online hate-speech and physical attacks on LGBTI people, many of the latter premeditated and brutal.

The review identifies that this is a pan-European phenomenon, from the UK where the populist narrative surrounding Brexit can be linked to an increase in anti-LGBTI hate crimes and incidents, to the banning of events in many towns and cities on the continent, the prosecution of participants in Pride marches in Turkey, and a growing presence of anti-LGBTI and neo-Nazi protesters in public spaces during LGBTI events across the region.

Alongside the rise in hatred, there is increased movement of people from within the region to countries perceived as less harsh. More LGBTI people left countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan for neighbouring countries where the situation might be perceived as relatively safer. There is also an anecdotal rise in people saying they want to leave countries like Poland for other EU countries.

Reported obstacles in access to healthcare, bullying in schools and the workplace, and LGBTI people being denied services, often with a lack of governmental intervention, all play a part in the overall picture of a Europe where lived experiences for a large part do not match up with the surface message that LGBTI rights and equality have been fully secured.

According to Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe: “It is not all bad news. The issue of bodily integrity for intersex people continues to gain more prominence on the political agenda of governments and institutions. 2019 was a year of positive developments for rainbow families in the region, with an expansion of family rights in a few countries; and important advancements continue to be made on reforming or establishing legal gender recognition procedures, even if in many countries progress is slowing down.

“However, the lived reality of LGBTI people in many parts of Europe and Central Asia is increasingly difficult and for a large part remains invisible, even to organisations like ILGA-Europe. Action is needed. Governments still have so much to do, from adopting laws that guarantee the protection of people’s rights and giving public authorities the means to translate policy into practice across sectors, to leading by example in having a discourse promoting social acceptance and inclusion.

“By making people aware of such a broad and nuanced picture, which is constantly shifting and evolving, the ILGA-Europe Annual Review aims to give a sense of the enormity of issues and areas that affect the lives of people, which will continue to require attention, especially in a context where LGBTI people are being targeted and vulnerability is heightened.”

Sabitfikir Magazine censors “homosexuality”  

“This demand clearly means censorship of the freedom of publication; we condemn it and hereby bring it to the public’s attention.”

Source: Sabitfikir censors “homosexuality” (Sabitfikir’den “eşcinsel” sansürü) T24, July 5, 2019, https://t24.com.tr/haber/sabitfikir-den-escinsel-sansuru,829168

Literary magazine Sabitfikir asked A7 Kitap Publishing House to remove the book “The Gay 100: A Ranking of The Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present” from an advert offered to the magazine. 

“We don’t accept this censorship, so we withdrew our ad,” said A7 Kitap.  

Recently, A7 Kitap contacted Sabitfikir, a magazine belonging to Turkuaz Magazine Group and offered an ad titled “An Anthology of Translated Books by the Editor of A7 Kitap”. The advert contained 10 books. 

However, A7 Kitap’s offer received a homophobic response. Sabitfikir demanded “The Gay 100: A Ranking of The Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present,” which is written by Paul Russel and translated into Turkish by Suat Hayri Küçük, be removed from the ad. A7 Kitap announced that they wouldn’t accept this act of censorship and withdrew the ad.

 A7 Kitap announced the censorship through their social media accounts and said that “This demand clearly means censorship of the freedom of publication; we condemn it and hereby bring it to the public’s attention.”

The Governorship of Antalya has banned the 3rd Antalya Pride Week!

The Governorship of Antalya has banned Antalya LGBTI+ Pride March and “all the related activities and events”. The governor’s office put forward “public decency” as the reason for this discriminatory ban.

Source: The Governorship of Antalya has banned the 3rd Antalya Pride Week! (Antalya Valiliği, 3. Antalya Onur Haftası’nı yasakladı!), Kaos GL, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28317 June 15, 2019

 

The governorship of Antalya has banned the 3rd Antalya LGBTI+ Pride Week stating the reason as “to prevent dissident groups from facing each other, to ensure the current peaceful environment, national safety, public order, public health and decency not to be disturbed, to block possible violence and terrorist activities, to preserve the unbreakable unity of the government, state, and nation, to protect the rights and freedom of other people,” pursuant to  Law no.2911 on Meetings and Protest Marches, the regulations on implementation of this law, and Article 11/A-C of the Law no.5442 on Provincial Administration.

The governor’s office has announced that “the Pride March and all the activities & events which will be organized afterwards in relation to that, such as public statements and activities/events by way of support to similar protests, as well as all the activities (marches, public statements, hunger strike, sit-in protests, setting up a booth or tent) which are follows-up to the same issue” have been banned in the whole city for 15 days.

Lawyer Ahmet Çevik: “We don’t accept the unlawful ban decision”

Lawyer Ahmet Çevik talked to KaosGL.org about the ban decision of the Governorship of Antalya:

“Today, the police officers of Antalya Security Branch Directorate, who came to the office of BIZ Association, notified [us of] the ban decision of the Governorship of Antalya. However, we refused to announce it because we don’t accept this unlawful ban decision. The ban decision of the Governorship of Antalya is contrary to the international agreements and to our own legislation. Let me tell you more clearly, the ban decision is contrary to the Istanbul Convention, the principles of equality in the constitution, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, and domestic legal order. Therefore, we refuse to announce it, the Governorship of Antalya should announce the ban to the public.”

Stating that the ban decision of the Governorship doesn’t only involve the activities within this week, but it also bans all the LGBTI+ activities throughout the whole city for 15 days and even protesting against the ban has been banned,  Çevik said:

“The Governorship has not only banned the Pride Week activities which will take place for 3 days. It banned all the LGBTI+ activities which will be organized in the whole of Antalya for 15 days starting from June 15. In addition to that, calling for LGBTI+ activities and reactions & protesting against it [the ban] in the digital world are banned, too. Moreover, no human rights associations or activist can condemn this ban or make a public statement about it within the borders of the city because these acts will also be considered as LGBTI+ activities. To sum, ban, ban, ban. Everything is banned!”

It is banned in Izmir, too!

The Governorship of Izmir announced a decision yesterday (June 14) and banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week stating similar reasons. The Governorship of Izmir gave the reason for it as “to ensure the people’s right to privacy, safety of the economy, public security, and welfare; to ensure national security, public security, and welfare; to protect national security, public order, to prevent crimes, to protect public health, public decency, and the other people’s rights and freedom, to prevent possible violence and terrorist activities.”

The governorship of Izmir has banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week

 

The governorship of Izmir has banned the events & activities which have been organized within the scope of the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week between the 17th – 23rd of June [2019].

Source: The governorship of İzmir has banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week (İzmir Valiliği, 7. İzmir LGBTİ+ Onur Haftası’nı yasakladı), Kaos GL, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28314 June 14, 2019

 

The governorship of Izmir has banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week which has been organized with the efforts of volunteers, by stating the reason as “to ensure the peace and safety of the city’s people, their right to privacy, the safety of the economy, public security, and welfare; to ensure national security, public security, and welfare; to protect national security, public order, to prevent crimes, to protect public health, public decency, and the other people’s rights and freedom, and to prevent possible violence and terrorist activities,” pursuant to Law no.2911 on Meetings and Protest Marches, the regulation on implementation of this law, and  Article 11/A-C of Law no.5442 on Provincial Administration.

 

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Group on the bans for the 9th METU Pride March

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March:

Source: The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March (ODTÜ Lgbti+ Dayanışması’nın Onur Yürüyüşüne yasak kararına ilişkin açıklaması), Lubunya Dayanışma Ağı / Lubunya Solidarity Network https://www.facebook.com/lubunyadayanismagi/photos/a.1731041177022948/2032498373543892/?type=3&theater, 7 May 2019

The METU Rectorate has sent an e-mail to all students, graduates, and academics of the university today around at 14:00. In the e-mail, the rectorate announced that the 9th METU Pride March, which is allegedly organized by “various non-governmental organizations”, shall not be permitted since it is an LGBTI+ event and there is, the rectorate claims, still a ban against the march, and it shall be met with police violence if any event is organized. In an environment where there is no such a ban, the METU Administration is trying to manipulate the situation by acting as if such a ban still exists.

It should be noted that METU LGBTI+ Solidarity which has been targeted by the police for years, would organize the 9th METU Price March on May 10. METU LGBTI+ Solidarity has made great efforts to secure gender equality, fight against LGBTI+ phobia, and ensure that the campus is a safe place for the past 23 years and shall continue doing so. Throughout the e-mail, METU Administration discriminates against METU LGBTI+ Solidarity and the LGBTI+ students pointing them out as a target, just as it has been doing for many years. This is a violation of basic human rights as well as METU’s tradition and culture. Besides, the METU Administration is in violation of international human rights agreements such as the Istanbul Convention which Turkey is a signatory of and breaches the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Governance and the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Communication that our school is a part of.

The METU Pride March is not organized by a variety of non-governmental organizations, but by METU LGBTI+ Solidarity. Presenting the demand for permission as something marginal is absurd and irrational, just like the reason for cancelling the Spring Festival last week claiming that it is because of “LGBT, Marxist, extreme leftist, HDP groups”. It is clear that this announcement fits the pro-government media or Zaytung* better. As seen from the protests demanding the Spring Festival, the administration does not represent METU traditions and thought that it could ban the march, threatening the whole METU community with police violence.

The most saddening part is that the METU Administration aspires to be a one-man regime fitting this country’s mentality of lawlessness. The bans against LGBTI+ events, imposed  both during and after the state of emergency, has been lifted by the court after stating that no ban of this extent can be introduced even during the state of emergency. In addition, CİMER (Presidential Communication Centre) has confirmed that there is no such general ban and each event shall be evaluated on its own. All the detailed statements in relation to the legal status are available as attached.

We call out to all METU people as well as those who want to protect freedoms; to the people who are against LGBTI+ phobia, sexism, discrimination, and patriarchy. Come here and let’s defend life in spite those who are full of hatred. Let’s spread our peaceful parade and rainbow celebration with marches and events for the whole of METU on May 10.

You can find detailed information relating to the legal status below:

https://tinyurl.com/lgbtiyasakkarar

METU LGBTI+ SOLIDARITY

We invite you to support with the hashtag #ODTUyeRenkVer

*Translator’s note: Zaytung is an online satirical magazine based in Turkey

Also see our article on the lifting of the LGBTI Activitities ban in Ankara and the protests on the METU campus in support of the spring festival.

“We prioritise the topics society is sensitive about; therefore, we have cancelled the program”

After the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Beyoğlu Municipality Mayor Candidate Alper Taş mentioned “LGBTİ” during TV5’s program “the Matters in Question with Çağla Cilara”, the channel’s presenter was fired and the program was cancelled.

Source: “We prioritise the topics the society is sensitive about; therefore, we have cancelled the program” (Toplumsal hassasiyetleri önceleyeceğiz, programı yayından kaldırdık) Gözde Demirbilek, KaosGL, March 5, 2019

https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27754&fbclid=IwAR310VJiERp3wzaEwtY0fSnnrPSKEpuVC7hTLmi78tsUdvjrHAbI1xyK180

Çağlar Cilara hosted the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Beyoğlu Municipality Mayor Candidate Alper Taş on the program “the Matters in Question” which he presented on TV channel 5, a channel founded by Necmettin Erbakan. During the program, he asked Taş the questions of the audience. In the previous days, Alper Taş had been a guest on the program “Human Rights Agenda” which lawyer Veysel Ok presents, and Taş had stated there “we will establish LGBTİ assemblies”. This statement of his was a topic of the program “the Matters in Question” as well. When Cilara asked questions about LGBTİ issues, Taş answered as follows:

“I stand by my words. Our LGBTİ citizens are our people. The majority of them live in Beyoğlu. They suffer from intense pressure and cruelty due to their sexual orientations, preferences. We will ensure them to live as a human because they are human. Their sexual orientation, identities are none of our business. We won’t look at their identities, we won’t look at their sexual orientation. We will look at whether or not there are citizens living in Beyoğlu, whether or not they are human. Starting from this, I as the municipality mayor candidate will follow their problems and solve the problems they revealed via their own assemblies, in order to help them to live in Beyoğlu without suffering from cruelty and pressure. The people do not become the way they are by specifically and consciously preferring it, it is something natural.”

The program’s presenter Çağlar Cilara replied him by saying “Yes, they were born this way”.

“There is a huge rage towards them as if they are not humans, not beings, not a part of the society. As a result, our thoughts are the same today as they were yesterday and there is no contradiction. We stand by the words we expressed for LGBTİ people. We will not take a single step back from it”, added Taş.

TV5 cancelled the program

After the questions about LGBTİ individuals had been asked, TV5 stated “We prioritise the topics society is sensitive about as well as those which are in line with our moral values, so we will continue broadcasting unwaveringly hereof.” declaring that they had separated ways with Çağlar Cilara and the program has been cancelled:

“The opinions and thoughts stated by Beyoğlu Municipality Mayor Candidate Alper Taş who was a guest on the program the Matters in Question with Çağlar Cilara represented his ideas. None of them are reflective of TV5.”

“One of the basic broadcasting principles of TV5 is to consider topics society is sensitive about as well as our moral values. Despite knowing our loyalty to this fact, trying to present these statements as if they reflect the general broadcasting policy of TV5 lacks fairness, morality, and understanding. As a channel that broadcasts many programs live on each day of the week with the slogan “everyone having a word to say” and hosts several guests of every opinion, not every agenda should be brought up as if it reflects TV5’s broadcasting policy. This attitude is clearly a operation to manipulate people’s perception.”

“However, TV5’s broadcasting board decided to cancel this program in order to prevent these perception operations, attempted before the elections. TV5 will continue broadcasting unwaveringly hereof. In future, just like in past TV5 will prioritise topics which society is sensitive about as well as those in line with our moral values. We kindly declare this to the public.

“I will keep asking, do not worry”

Cilara shared TV5’s statement while stating “My adventure at TV5 is over. The journalists in Turkey are torn between political polarisation, conflict, and noise. I asked my question, presented the news. I presented more than 3 thousand programs within 8 years. More than 10 thousand news articles were written from my programs.  Do not worry, I will keep asking questions.”

Governorship of Ankara’s decision to ban the film screening of ‘Pride’

Source: Ankara Valiliği, “Yasaklama Kararına İlişkin Basın Duyurusu”, June 28, 2018, http://www.ankara.gov.tr/yasaklama-kararina-iliskin-basin-duyurusu-28062018

“Through social media, various print and visual media outlets, it has come to our attention that Komunist LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) is organizing a film screening of ‘Pride’ at Nazım Hikmet Cultural Center in Çankaya at 19:30 on June 28, 2018.

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 considering the intel regarding the terrorist groups preparing to act against opposing groups, that 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 June 28 onwards the film screening at Nazım Hikmet Cultural Center in Çankaya district, and within the scope of our city is banned by our Governorship, based on Article 11/C of the 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 the State of Emergency.”