Discrimination & Hate Crimes

Discrimination and Hate Crimes committed against LGBTI in Turkey

Fear of losing job prevents reporting discrimination

According to the report titled “LGBTI+ Individuals Employed in the Private Sector”; LGBTI+ employees can’t access their rights against discrimination because they fear they may lose their jobs and face new problems if they reveal their gender identity.

Source: “Fear of losing job prevents reporting discrimination(“İşini kaybetme korkusu ayrımcılığı bildirmeyi engelliyor”), Yıldız Tar, kaosgl.org, April 20, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25639

A recently published report by Kaos GL focuses on “the situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Individuals employed in the private sector in 2017”.

This report reveals that only 17% of the LGBTI+ employees are completely ‘out’ and 65% of them had to either deal with discrimination in the workplace or had to hide their identity. In addition to statistical figures, the LGBTI+ employees’ stories and testimonies are also included in the report. These explanations unveil what they have experienced in the private sector.

The participants were asked questions like: “Did you inform the union or the judicial authorities about the discriminatory incidents you’ve been exposed to? How did the process go/develop? If you didn’t, why?”

According to the survey, the authorities were not notified of any incident involving direct or indirect discrimination, a potential discriminatory environment or the need for supportive intervention.

“Fear of losing jobs and the possibility of having to pay a higher cost prevent reporting discrimination.”

In the survey, the situation is explained like this:

“Generally speaking, the attitude represented by our participants against discrimination at the workplace is consistent with the results of our last year’s survey. LGBTI+ employees can’t seek their rights against discrimination because they may lose their jobs, there is the possibility of having to pay a higher cost, fear of revealing their gender identity, the difficulties they may face out of work and other similar reasons. A significant finding is the lack of belief in protecting institutions regarding the protection of their rights against discrimination for LGBTI+ employees. The reason behind this can be the inadequacy in either institutional or legal approaches. For many LGBTI+ employees struggling with discrimination in the workplace may result in severe discrimination or in some situations for them to experience anxiety outside of the workplace and means that many remain silent.

The stories: I didn’t apply, because…

The testimonies in this research reveal the difficulties LGBTI+ employees experience when reporting a discriminative act:

“I made a report to the company’s management. I continued being exposed to transphobia; but unfortunately, I chose to keep quiet because I was afraid I’d lose my job.” (a heterosexual trans man working as an expert in the construction/architecture sector)

“I think it’s pointless to report such incident because we are working for the bosses in the union that I’m affiliated with.” (a gay man working as a worker in the food industry)

“No, in such situation my family would find out too.” (a gay man working as service staff in the entertainment industry)

“I didn’t apply because I don’t believe I can get a result out of it and the law of this country is not equal for everybody.” (a bisexual man working as service staff in the retail sector)

Having to hide oneself is discrimination too

Here are some examples of the responses of the participants who declared that in order not be exposed to discrimination they had to hide their gender identity:

“Should we report or continue hiding? Even if the authorities were informed, it is not hard to guess how painful the procedure would be and how one would be dragged into disappointment.” (a bisexual woman working as a specialist in the health sector)

“I didn’t inform the judicial authorities because I thought I didn’t have enough information and that the result wouldn’t be positive.” (a gay man working as a middle-level manager in an NGO)

“Even if I face it, I don’t think I can find a solution.” (a lesbian woman working as an assistant specialist in banking/finance sector)

The research for 2018 has started.

Work on the questionnaire for 2018’s report has started. This year the study is being conducted together with the Centre for Gender and Women’s Research at Kadir Has University.

This questionnaire consists of 24 questions and promises confidentiality for LGBTI+ employees. This questionnaire does not ask for a name or the company’s name and provides a better understanding of the specific priorities and needs of LGBTI+ employees and companies which take up the cause for gender mainstreaming.

After this information is analysed, an evaluation report will be prepared by comparing it with similar examples in the USA and Germany.

The comparative report will create information on awareness raising and capacity building activities for the private sector and civil society. The report will also provide encourage the development of employment gender equality policies for LGBTI+ employees.

Police brutality against trans individuals in Izmir

Last night, in Alsancak, Izmir, police officers forcefully detained 2 trans individuals after telling them “you can’t sit here”.

Source: “Police brutality against trans individuals in Izmir” (“İzmir’de translara polis şiddeti”), Gözde Demirbilek, kaosgl.org, May 9, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25777

In Izmir, police continue to siege the Alsancak neighbourhood.  Based on the information given by the neighbourhood residents, around 23:00 law enforcement officials took 2 trans women who were sitting in a bakery on Azra Has Street (Bornova Street) to the police station; forcefully and without justification.

After the police detained these women and took their statements, they were fined and released.

The women contacted Kerem Dikmen, a lawyer from Kaos GL and told him how law enforcement officers have been putting the neighbourhood under siege, and how the police are suffocating the trans individuals living in this area.

De facto Unlawful Detention!

Kerem Dikmen pointed out that the administrative fine has become something arbitrary; he said:

“It’s an exception when the one sentenced to pay fines detained by the police, even though this is not stipulated by the law; the sanctions that are imposed on trans women are not being carried out according to the law. There is no difference in clarity by the law between penalising a car driver’s speeding crimes and a trans individual on the street. Considering that it is not necessary to go to the police station for the fine to be issued, such implementation can turn into actual unlawful detention.”

“The area under siege is where trans individuals live and work. Living and working in the same neighbourhood is natural and therefore incidents like this happen while they are shopping from stores in their own neighbourhood. It is not lawfully applicable to sentence someone to pay fines as long as there is no indicated misdemeanour crime.”

 

#mynameisayda

A group of LGBTI+ activists have published a statement regarding the recent attacks on LGBTI+ refugees in Yalova. A social media campaign was launched with the hashtag #mynameisayda. The group has opened a Twitter account called “My name is Ayda” and explained the attacks as the following:

OUR CALL regarding the mob lynches and hatred against LGBTI+ asylum seekers in Yalova and across Turkey:

On May 30 our friend Ayda, a trans woman, was assaulted by the residents of her district in Yalova and she was hospitalized. Ayda left her home county due to transphobia, yet she has become the target of the same transphobic acts and discourses here in Turkey. As we were preparing this text, another friend of ours, a gay asylum seeker, was threatened in the middle of the street with a knife.  

This is not the first attack against LGBTI+ asylum seekers in Yalova, but previous incidents were met with silence. This time we will not remain silent to these rights violations. We will  make our voices heard by the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği) and the United Nations as we seek justice for Ayda as well as for previous cases of violence. We will be using the hashtag #mynameisayda on Sunday (June 3) at 21:00, tagging @UNHumanRights and @UN.

We would like you to join our call by sharing messages publicly with the hashtag.

Together we raise our voices against acts of hatred and violence against our LGBTI friends.

AYDA IS NOT ALONE!

ASYLUM SEEKING LGBTI INDIVIDUALS ARE NOT ALONE!

WITH SOLIDARITY,

 

After the call, the group published an update about the incident, stating that seven of the attackers were detained following the social media campaign. The group wrote: “we would like to thank all of you but our struggle will continue until all LGBTI asylum seekers are safe and our demands are met.”

 

To follow the account and join the campaign, see Mynameisayda

Social Service Specialists to Nihat Hatipoglu: “The Expert Opinion” You Provided is Wrong!

When asked for his opinion by a viewer who said  “I was born a woman; I feel like I’m a man”, theologian Hatipoğlu responded: “You have to control your will.” Social service specialists demanded that theologian Hatipoglu correct his statement following the incident.

Source:  “Social service specialists to Nihat Hatipoglu: ‘the expert opinion’ you provided is wrong!” (Sosyal Hizmet Uzmanlarından Nihat Hatipoğlu’na: Verdiğin “Uzman” Bilgisi Yanlış), bianet, May, 24,2018, https://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/197474-sosyal-hizmet-uzmanlarindan-nihat-hatipoglu-na-verdigin-uzman-bilgisi-yanlis

Social service specialists published a statement, asking the theology professor Nihat Hatipoglu to correct his mistake conflating sexual identity with sexual orientation.

Hatipoglu was in a live broadcast in Sultanahmet Square for a Ramadan program while he was answering peoples’ questions, one asked: “I was born a woman but I feel myself a man and I like women.”

Hatipoglu replied: “You’re a woman, you were born a woman. This is a test for you and you have to struggle with it. It’s not your desire, but your belief and your mind you must surrender to.”

The Association of Social Service Specialists (SHU-Der) branches in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Diyarbakir, together with Kaos GL and Genc LGBTI+’s Social Services Studies Groups made a joint declaration and have asked Hatipoglu to amend his statement.

The social service specialists said: “The responsibilities of specialists must be recognized, while the ones who have these responsibilities must leave behind their biases/prejudices. We want Nihat Hatipoglu to correct the statement he has made; reminding him that his ‘expert’ opinions were wrong, he should ask for the expertise of psychologists who are working with LGBTI individuals as well as social service specialists.”

The press statement follows below:

“We all know that in 1990 on 17th of May, homosexuality was declassified from the list of International Classification of Diseases by the World Health Organization.

Because of society’s heteronormative perspective on LGBTI individuals’ sexual identity and sexual orientation, they are facing many problems such as being rejected, misunderstood, repressed, censored, as well as the violation of their fundamental rights.

Lecturer Doc. Koray Basar from Hacettepe University stated on Kaos GL website: “such prejudices from doctors or theologians disguised as ‘expert opinions’ will only turn the lives of the people and their loved ones to hell. Experts have to know their responsibilities and should not let the prejudices take over their responsibilities.”

“As a result of hate crimes, LGBTI individuals are deprived of their most fundamental rights, the right to live and and as such they face difficulties in accessing social services, employment, education, accommodation and healthcare. Problems LGBTI individuals experience in these domains render them potential recipients of social services and psychological counseling.”

“Human rights and social justice are the basis of social service work. Within this framework, based on human rights, the fight against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, skin colour, gender, sexual identity and sexual orientation, marital status, political opinion, religious belief and mental or physical disability; is one of the responsibilities of this job. Therefore, we demand that Nihat Hatipoglu correct the statement he has made; and we remind him that his “expert” opinions were wrong. Hatipoglu should ask for the opinion of psychologists and other social service specialists who working with LGBTI individuals.”

“In spite of the limited capacity of public services due to a lack of policies, we want to remind that social service specialists and psychologists are here to assist all LGBTI individuals to protect their rights, to provide the psychosocial support they need until a better model is developed to protect against discrimination.”

Hasan Atik: “I will represent our demand to live as equal citizens”

Hasan Atik, an LGBTI+ rights advocate running for a seat in the Turkish Parliament as the 4th candidate on the ballot list from the People’s Democratic Party answered Kaos GL’s questions.

Source: “Hasan Atik: ‘I will represent our demand to live as equal citizens’ “ (Hasan Atik: “Eşit yurttaşlık temelinde yaşam talebimizi dile getireceğim”), Yıldız Tar, kaosgl.org, May 27,2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25904

How did you decide to become a candidate? Was your candidacy as a gay politician in HDP supported?

I have assumed duties in various levels of HDP. In every position I have worked in complete harmony with my party and my colleagues. HDP exists in all colors. When I decided to apply for the candidacy, my fellow party members supported me both at the centre of the party and in local branches and they continue to support me.

You are running for a seat in the parliament from a place which will not elect you. Yet, as far as we know, you are the only open gay candidate. What are your plans for the election campaigns?

It was my request to be a candidate from Edirne. I believe I can be more beneficial for my party in Edirne. No member of HDP is in this election just for a seat, we care about our party. I will continue rights advocacy during the election campaign. I will continue to work for equal citizenship not only for one identity but for all identities. For me, my candidacy is not a means to an end but the end itself; the aim for equal and free citizenship for all peoples of Turkey.

Unfortunately, we live in a country where LGBTI+ rights are not maintained. As an MP candidate, what are your demands regarding the LGBTI+ rights?

Our most urgent demand is the right to live. Equal citizenship, freedom, equality in access to accommodation and employment are also among are demands. I will fight for the legal recognition of hate crime. I will be a strong defender for our demand to live not underdiscrimination but under equal citizenship.

Aside from LGBTI+ rights advocacy, you also advocate  for HIV/AIDS related rights and give counseling on the matter. How will you carry this struggle of yours to political arena?

HIV/AIDS is a pressing matter in Turkey. The state does not have a preventive approach, aside from providing treatment. We will first fight to have sexual health training in the national education syllabi. Then we will educate the society against HIV-phobia. We will fight against stigmatization and discrimination, which are dominant tendencies in Turkey.

Our purpose is to ensure that the Turkish state belongs to everyone living inside our borders. We aim to govern this country by sharing our authority with all segments of the society, all peoples of Turkey. Together, we will rebuild Turkey into a more democratic and livable country. We will win.

 

Queer Cyprus Association’s LGBTI+-Friendly Municipality Protocol

As the local elections draw closer in Northern Cyprus, Queer Cyprus Association prepared a text titled “LGBTI+-Friendly Local Governance Protocol” and invited the municipal mayoral candidates to sign the protocol, reminding the future mayors of their responsibilities towards LGBTI+ rights.

Here are some of the duties listed under the protocol:

“I hereby vow to;

 

  • Take steps to protect the rights and the liberties of LGBTI+ individuals, to undertake egalitarian, liberal, transparent and participatory local governance practices in the district I am running for,
  • To realize policies providing LGBTI+ individuals access to public services, equal benefit  from rights to healthcare, to accomodation, to employment and to transportation,
  • To take these policies into account when preparing our budgets,
  • To cooperate with LGBTI+ associations and platforms in order to ensure that local services are all-inclusive,
  • To support the CSO’s working in the field of sexual orientation and gender identity and to organize activities or projects together with the municipality’s relevant units or similar local institutions,
  • To prepare an anti-discrimination regulation for the municipality which includes sexual orientation and gender identity,
  • To organize vocational training for municipality employees regarding LGBTI+ rights and discrimination,
  • To encourage cultural centers and recreational facilities ran by the municipality to include sexual orientation and gender identity related issues in their activities,
  • To encourage the municipality’s current online and print media platforms to inform the public regarding gender identity and sexual orientation equality and ban discrimination,
  • To be a LGBTI+ friendly mayor.”

 

 

While the deadline for the mayor candidates to sign the protocol is June 22, two candidates have already signed it.  Ulaş Gökçe, the independent mayoral candidate for Gazimağusa signed the protocol on May 26. Mehmet Harmancı, the incumbent mayor of the Turkish Municipality of Lefkoşa, running again for the post with the Communal Democracy Party (Toplumcu Demokrasi Partisi)  signed the protocol on May 27th. It is reported that during Harmancı’s administration, the Lefkoşa Turkish Municipality has supported LGBTI+ rights by putting up the rainbow flag, organizing seminars to increase awareness on equality and discrimination as well as decorating roundabouts with rainbow banners on May 17 as a part of IDAHOBIT celebrations.

(This article is compiled from news articles on Kıbrıs Postası and Detay Kıbrıs websites, as shown on the links.)

Istanbul Pride Week 2018 and What You Can Do to Support

As Istanbul Pride Week turns 26 this year, pride volunteers once more call for your support to organize the celebrations through June 25- July 1. Pride Week in Istanbul is organized solely by volunteer effort and crowdsourcing. On the second year of the state of emergency in Turkey and amidst bans against LGBTI+ assemblies and demonstrations, Istanbul Pride Week grows stronger and your support is ever more important for the LGBTI+ community in Turkey. Here is some information on how Pride has been celebrated in Turkey recently and what you can do to support the LGBTI+ community of Turkey.

What’s going on?

Over the last couple of years, Pride March has been taking place amidst police intervention and bans. Last year, both LGBTI+ and Trans Pride Marches in Istanbul were banned by the  governorship, followed by a governorship ban against all LGBTI+ related events in Ankara, which had led to bans in other cities.

Despite the bans and oppression, the LGBTI+ community in Turkey is very much alive and active. The associations continue their work and struggle for equality and freedom for all LGBTI+ individuals in all realms of social life. However, most of their work, including the organization of Pride Week is voluntary and requires financial support.

What is the crowdsourcing for?

The donations gathered by crowdsourcing will be used for the costs of events organized within the scope of Pride Week. These are film screenings, panels, forums and exhibitions. This year’s theme for Pride Week is “boundaries”, the theme will be the guiding concept for these events. You may see detailed information on how this budget will be spent on this link.

What else can I do to support Pride Week in Istanbul?

If you cannot make a donation or if you would like to support Pride Week in other ways, we say: Sharing is caring! You can share the crowdsourcing link on your social media accounts to help Pride volunteers reach more people and raise awareness in your own community. You can also follow the updates through Pride Week’s facebook page and our page. Keep in mind that messages of solidarity are always meaningful and empowering for volunteers and activists,  be it on twitter  or banners in your local Pride celebrations. It’s the thought that counts!

(Photo collage: Natali Arslan)