Discrimination & Hate Crimes

Discrimination and Hate Crimes committed against LGBTI in Turkey

BIANET: Boğaziçi University Presidency Returns ‘Hande Kader’ Fellowship Donations

The Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club had announced that they would grant a student [with the] Hande Kader Fellowship but the university presidency has said that the fellowship was not within their knowledge. The donations are being returned.

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Source: BIANET (ÇT/TK), http://bianet.org/english/lgbti/189274-hande-kader-fellowship-for-trans-students-at-bogazici-university, August 21, 2017

Following the statement by the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club (BÜLGBTI+) on the Hande Kader Fellowhsip, the Boğaziçi University Presidency has issued a statement saying that the donations were returned as of this moment.

Boğaziçi University Foundation (BÜVAK) and BÜLGBTI+ would grant the Hande Kader fellowship to a trans student this year.

A trans student at Boğaziçi University would receive 500 TL (125 Euros) of fellowship for 12 months as part of the Hande Kader Fellowship prepared through the cooperation of BÜVAK and BÜLGBTI+.

The fellowship would be formed through the donations that will be collected. The quota for the fellowship holders was planned to be increased and the 1-year fellowship was planned to be extended depending on the amount collected.

Boğaziçi Presidency: The donations are being returned

“[The] Fund and scholarship which have become the subject of reports in the media stating that a fellowship of 500 TL for 12 months to be provided by the ‘Hande Kader Fellowship’ to a trans Boğaziçi University student  as a result of the cooperation of BÜVAK and LGBTI+ Studies Club are not within the knowledge of BÜVAK and Boğaziçi University Presidency.

“There is no such a fund within the body of BÜVAK. For this reason, the donators and those who would like to donate shouldn’t be misinformed.

“The donations of the donators are being returned as of now”.

About Hande Kader

Hande Kader was born in Turkey’s southeastern province of Urfa in 1993. She was living in İstanbul and she was working as a sex worker.

She was last seen when she was getting in a customer’s car in August 2016. Her friends filed a missing person report with the Gayrettepe Security Directorate on August 4. On August 12, a body was found in Zekeriyaköy. It was determined that the body, which was burned from the waist down, was Hande Kader. Since the family didn’t want the body, Hande Kader was interred in an anonymous cemetery.

A year has passed since the murder. The investigation is still on-going and the perpetrators are yet to be caught. (ÇT/TK)

BIANET: LGBTI Activist Coşkun Detained on Remand Stays in Solitary Cell

Source: BIANET, Diyarbakır – BIA News Desk, http://bianet.org/english/lgbti/189192-lgbti-activist-diren-coskun-stays-in-solitary-cell, 17 August 2017.

Being arrested over “illegal organization membership”, Keskesor activist Diren Coşkun has been sent to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison. Coşkun has been staying in a solitary cell since she refused to stay with men.

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Keskesor LGBTI has announced that LGBTI Amed activist Diren Coşkun has been sent to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison by the prison administration who ignore Coşkun’s gender identity.

Coşkun was arrested during an ID check at the Diyarbakır Courthouse where she went to get password for E-devlet (E-government) on August 14 after being told that there was a definitive judgement against her on charges of “being a member of an illegal organization” and “propagandizing for an illegal organization”.

Issuing a statement about Diren Coşkun, Keskesor LGBTI said “We’ve learned that the Supreme Court upheld the decision during her ID check at the courthouse. She now stays in a solitary cell in Diyarbakır Type D Prison”.

“First of all, we have to say that she was subjected to verbal and physical harassment by the gendarmerie while she was being taken to prison. On the other hand, the attitude of the guards and executions towards Diren is very nice. They address Diren as ‘Mrs. Diren’”, the statement added.

Coşkun was first sent to Diyarbakır Type E Closed Women’s Prison, then she was transferred to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison by the prison administration. Not willing to stay in the same ward as men, Coşkun stays in a solitary cell.

Her cats stay with her friends

Coşkun had made a call for her two cats to be taken care of. According to the information we obtained from Coşkun’s friends, the treatment for the sick one continues whereas the other one stays with a friend of Coşkun. (EA/TK)

KaosGL: The rumour that he was “spreading homosexuality” and the expulsion that followed

Assist. Prof. Çağlar Deniz told KaosGL.org the process that prepared the ground for his expulsion via delegated legislation: “Two academicians who built sentences like ‘I heard you went to a gay bar’, ‘He is spreading homosexuality’, or ‘He is propagating against national and sentimental values with his qualification as a theologian’ about me”

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Source: Yıldız Tar, “‘Eşcinselliği yayıyor’ dedikodusu ve ardından gelen ihraç” KaosGL, July 19, 2017 http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24233

Assist. Prof. Caglar Deniz from the Department of Sociology, Usak University, who is among the academicians who have been expelled via the latest delegated legislation, has told KaosGL.org the process that led to expulsion.

“Even my gender class has been made an issue of investigation”

Graduated from Imam Hatip High School ( religious vocational high school) and Theology, Deniz, who is a member of the Education and Science Workers’ Union, has a PhD in Sociology. Lecturing also on gender, Deniz stated that he had been a victim of mobbing in 2017 at the university:

“I find it unnecessary to say that I have earned a full hundred points at the academic initiative application despite all of the mobbings by the university administration in the year 2017. Even the concept of ‘phallic structure’ that I discussed in the gender class has been made an issue of investigation.”

“After my post on being expelled via the delegated legislation, I received calls and messages of consolation from very different social groups ranging from supporters of People’s Democratic Party, of Justice and Development Party, to Romanis and Kurds, to the religious and the agnostic.”

“My only difference from all the other tens of thousands of delegated legislation victims is my finding out about the content of the FETO (Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization) investigation, gotten prepared by the president of Usak University who is under arrest since December 2016 with the charge of being a member of FETO, my making an allegation about the incident, suing for damages, and demanding an investigation from the Council of Higher Education (YOK) via the Prime Ministry Communication Centre.

“People I asked to be heard in may favour have not been heard”

Deniz explained the content of the file he ‘submitted to justice’ as follows:

“According to the file I submitted to justice as well, I pointed out that I could not belong to any religious cult or community. People I asked to be heard in may favour have not been heard. According to the file that the president of the university who is under arrest has caused to be disclosed, they asked about me to 4 faculty members at the university where I worked for 6 years. One professor said they could not testify because they did not know me enough, while another said that as far as they knew me, they did not know anything about my relationship with organizations such FETO or KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union.”

“He went to a gay bar”, “He is trying to spread homosexuality”…

Deniz shared the testimonies of two people who worked with him only for a year, and who have been lately hired by the president of the university who is under arrest. Deniz narrated the testimony of an assistant professor about him as follows:

“They are saying that I haven’t invited them to a cult or community meeting, that they don’t know me, that we’ve only had tea twice, that they heard that I’ve been to a gay bar. They don’t specify from whom they’ve heard it. They are arguing that the opinion I have formed in them is that I could be a member of KCK, or that I may have formed a relationship with FETO based on self-interest.”

Deniz stated that another associate professor has testified as follows about him: “He says things that are not in line with the official discourse about the Armenian deportation, he propagates against national and sentimental values with his qualification as a theologian, he is trying to spread homosexuality, and he discriminated in favour of two female students as the Erasmus coordinator.” Deniz also added:

“It has not been specified where and when these have been said and what happened. They have not explained how I propagated against national and sentimental values with my qualification as a theologian. I am guessing that with ‘he is trying to spread homosexuality’, they are referring to something in relation to my gender class. In the allegation that I discriminated as the Erasmus coordinator, there is no mention of who these students are, or how I discriminated in favour of them.”

“Investigation with allegations that do not go beyond rumour”

Deniz continued his answers to these allegations as follows:

“It is considered a shame for a sociology sophomore to state these allegations, let alone an associate professor in sociology. Because sociology is neither the parrot of the hegemon, nor is it the missionary of any belief, and it also knows that a sexual orientation cannot be spread. Sociology is farthest from hetero-mascist discourse the most. They are clearly defaming not only me, but also my students who go to intership mobility abroad by passing the necessary exams, and by completing relevant procedures. Unfortunately these two people, whose rumours against me have been accepted as testimonies by the university’s investigation commission, will be lecturing the students at the Department of Sociology at Usak University.

“With these two ridiculous testimonies that do not go beyond rumours and that do not include even a tiny bit of information as to whether or not I am terrorist (!), I had been made a mid-level suspect from a low-level suspect by the FETO investigation commission at the university.”

“The president of the university who would later be arrested with the charge of being a member of FETO had hurriedly sent this file to the file of another investigation about me. I had been aware of the process when I went to YOK to get the files.”

“They are getting involved in the investigation by using their posts”

“Students who would testify in my favour are being intimidated by the Head of the Department of Sociology at Usak University in person, by giving the name of the deputy president of the university. Students who are being threatened with their courses, grades, and futures are trying to be scared to even voice this situation. It is against the natural course of life for the deputy president of the university to not know about this incident. These people are getting involved in ongoing investigation processes by using their posts. What needs to be done is obvious in a normal system. They should be relieved of duty for the safety of the investigation.”

“Some people are terribly deceiving others”

Deniz stated that he will press charges against the people who ‘gossiped’ about him and also said that,

“In a process where I feel like Dreyfus, which is explained by Arendt with the theory of ‘banality of evil’, I thank all my family, students, and friends who have supported me in overcoming the injustices, who have stood by the truth despite being threatened, and who have lent me a hand for truth and justice to get back on its feet.

I believe that some people are terribly deceiving others right now, please no one get angry, I know it from the decision given about me.”

KaosGL: Transphobia at Victoria’s Secret’s Istanbul Zorlu Center branch

A Victoria’s Secret branch at Istanbul Zorlu Center prevented a trans customer from shopping, claiming “customers are uncomfortable.”

Source: “Transphobia at Victoria’s Secret’s Zorlu Branch,” kaosGL.org, 30 June 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=2411

Victoria’s Secret branch at Istanbul Zorlu Center prevented a trans customer from shopping, claiming that “customers are uncomfortable” On June 28, Gülşen Afife went to Zorlu Center Victoria’s Secret store to buy a bra. After finding the right product with the help of a sales advisor she walked towards the changing room, but the changing room clerk started laughing and called the store manager. The managers told Gülşen Afife “customers are uncomfortable, you can’t use the changing room”.

“The clerk called the manager laughing”

Here is Gülşen Afife’s account of the transphobic and discriminatory practice she was exposed to:

“Yesterday (June 28) around 17:00, I went to Zorlu Center Victoria’s Secret store to buy a bra that I needed. After finding the right product with the sales advisor, I went in the changing room to try it on. Those who are familiar with changing rooms know, each cabin is designed like a room, with an armchair inside. You enter the room with the clerk who helps you while trying the product on. There is no possibility for anyone to see you.

When I got in the changing room area, I told the clerk that I would like to try it on and that I’m waiting in line. The clerk went out laughing and two women claiming to be the managers arrived after two minutes. Meanwhile some of the cabins became available but I couldn’t enter any of them since there were no clerks to help me with the product.

“Please don’t, sir”

One of the two women said ‘Unfortunately you can’t try it on here, we can’t allow you.’ When I asked the reason, she told me that women are try on things here and they haven’t allowed it before. I said ‘I am a woman’ but they replied ‘Please don’t, sir.’

“Customers are uncomfortable”

I asked ‘Is this a company policy?’ I said ‘An international company who employs many LGBTIs from the designer to the presser of this bra I’m holding in my hands cannot have such a decision’ She said ‘We have many gay employees but the customers are uncomfortable with you trying it on here, we got feedback.’

‘If they are customers, who am I? Who gets uncomfortable from what in closed cabins? Are they uncomfortable at the common waiting area? Then you shouldn’t let trans women and gay people to enter the store’ I said. When they repeated ‘Don’t take it personally, we have gay employees, it’s not a personal matter, customers are getting uncomfortable,’ I didn’t want to take it further. As a trans women at the beginning of her transition process, I indicated that what they are doing is a hate crime and discrimination, and I had to leave the store while receiving support from other women in the cabins.”

Gülşen Afife, who was subjected to a transphobic practice in Victoria’s Secret store at Istanbul Zorlu Center, stated that she will press charges on the ground of discrimination.

Bianet: Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?

HDP’s İstanbul MP Garo Paylan inquired on the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the reasons for detentions during the walk, in the parliamentary question he presented to PM Yıldırım.

Source: “Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?” (“Hükümetin Onur Yürüyüşüne Tavrı Neden 2015’ten Sonra Değişti?”), bianet.org, June 28, 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/187827-hukumetin-onur-yuruyusune-tavri-neden-2015-ten-sonra-degisti

HDP’s Istanbul MP Garo Paylan presented a parliamentary question to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım regarding the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the violent police intervention.

Paylan reminded [parliament] that Pride Week Committee’s notification and demand for an appointment from the governorate 20 days prior to the walk were not responded to and that the Governorate of Istanbul announced the ban one day before the walk. He stated that members of Alperen Hearths who threatened those participating the walk were released after an ID check, whereas those who came to walk were detained.

Paylan asked the questions below to PM Yıldırım:

  • What is the real reason for the governorate’s ban against LGBTI+ Pride Walk which has been continuing peacefully for years in Turkey, taking place without any judicial cases or “security threats”?

  • Why has the government changed its attitude towards the Pride Walk since 2015, as there were no bans prior to that date?

  • What is the reason for the violent intervention of law enforcement against the citizens coming to the LGBTI+ Pride Walk?

  • On what grounds were the participants of the LGBTI+ Pride Walk were detained while the members of Alperen Hearths who attacked them were released after an ID check?

  • What is the reason for the detention of the lawyers who intervened to help the citizens in custody?

  • Is there an investigation against the hate speech of law enforcement against the LGBTI+ individuals?

  • Do you think that the ban against the walk might result in an increase in hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTI+ individuals?

KaosGL: How to “pass” police tests in Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March was banned by the governor’s office for the third year in a row after more than a decade of peaceful marches. With the ban, police set up checkpoints across Istanbul’s main thoroughfare, İstiklal Avenue, and central Taksim streets. Police prevented people from gathering en masse for Pride using these checkpoints, as well as riot-control methods like tear gas and plastic bullets. Still, a few hundred people could gather in Cihangir and groups read press statements via Facebook live.

Below are stories from Pride-goers as they attempted to “pass” as non-participants through police checkpoints.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Onur Yürüyüşü’nde polisten alıktırma (!) testi,” kaosGL.org, 27 June 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24097

Tote bag, badge, colorful shirt, earring, scarf, sometimes tshirt, sometimes shorts, and sometimes only the way you look is enough! People who have passed the police’s “LGBTI+ test”, those who failed it, and those who’ll stay for summer classes tell their stories to KaosGL.

Foto: Şener Yılmaz Aslan / MOKU

Our country launches a new practice and people who wanted to attend the LGBTI+ Pride March had to compete to “pass.”

Police blockaded the whole Taksim area the day of the march and allowed people to enter Istiklal Avenue based on their “types” throughout the day, leading to farcical dialogues. Police forced a person wearing a rainbow pattern to strip, said “normal people can pass,” among so many others.

We asked people what they went through that day, the police’s reasons if they weren’t allowed in and what they experienced if they managed to enter the area, knowing it’s a problem if you’re naked and another problem if you’re dressed.

“I got in by hiding my shirt with my backpack”

Cüneyt is one of the lucky few who managed to pass through the police checkpoint. How he did that is like a summary of the day:

“Police saw the rainbow on my t-shirt and said on the police radio ‘it’s clear you’re supporting them [LGBTI+] through your t-shirt’. So I wore my backpack on the front and passed.

Another tactic to pass the police checkpoint is to stand together with both sexes. Most probably as a result of the police’s not knowing about bisexuality, varied sexuality and gender possibilities, and even more so about the fact that people attending this march can be heterosexual, Gülay was able to pass the checkpoint easily:

“I passed hand in hand with Barbaros. They did not say anything like ‘Maybe they are bisexual, maybe they are here for the march.’ So we entered freely.”

“We tried to look like a straight couple”

Elif applied the same method:

“As I’d entered [Taksim] in the morning, I was already in when the police cordoned the area off and started to choose people as they like. But in order to be able to report, I spent the whole day trying to look like a straight couple with a lubunya friend of mine, ignoring our friends we passed by. This way I was able to shoot certain cases of police violence and detention. And I was able to take a lubunya friend of mine to Istiklal, who was otherwise rejected by the police, telling him “come my love”.

Ask them about the colorful shirts

“We were three people and we were stopped by the police right at the entrance to Istiklal. Bedreddin was stopped because he was wearing a colorful shirt. Yes, this was precisely their justification. He said ‘it’s a color sensitive situation, you can’t enter Istiklal’. So after listening to the political defense for a while, I realized he won’t understand. I simply said: ‘What’s that got to do with anything, there is no green in rainbow.’ And the police opened the cordon.”

“Hold these guys!”

Hakan +Arda

“We sat for a while at a venue on the entrance to Istiklal. Then a friend of ours passed by and entered [through the police cordon]. As we tried to go after him, a police officer told another one ‘hold these guys’ and stopped us. I had a gray t-shirt, earrings and an orange bag on. So we went through Cihangir and entered the avenue from Galatasaray.”

“We were able to enter after hiding our stuff”

Deniz Buse

“My girlfriend and I came through nostalgic funicular from Karaköy. We were not allowed in Istiklal because of our earrings, bandanas and pins. ‘We are here on Eid al-Fitr, don’t bother us with this’ they said. We said ‘we won’t give them [the accessories]’. I said : ‘If I give them to you here, I will buy new ones from the shops on Istiklal anyway. They replied, ‘Then our friends will detain you and that’s it’. We said we won’t give them. They said ‘then we won’t take them’. We went back to Karaköy. We put all the stuff they didn’t allow in my girlfriend’s sunglasses case and left it on a construction site. We hid it. That’s how we went to Istiklal. We returned and took back our stuff afterwards.

“Your type is not allowed”

Başak’s dialogue with the police

“-You can’t enter.

-Why, is it just me who is not allowed?

-No, you and your friends.

-I don’t get it, why? What’s the deal?

-Your type is not allowed!”

Shoulder bag is a reason for not being allowed!

Erdem

“Five of us entered Istiklal. Our outfits were more or less similar. We all had a casual t-shirt and shorts. Only one of my friends and I had a shoulder bag and we were the only ones that were stopped. It was either the bag or us being too campy, I don’t know. After that I was rejected several times on my own.”

“They’re normal!”

Şevval:

“They stopped me. I asked, ‘Why can’t I pass, look, everyone else is in’. The police said ‘They’re normal’. I snapped like a princess. Eventually they said ‘please come in’.”

“The street is closed to you today”

Fırat!

“They didn’t let me in either. They stopped me right when I was entering the avenue and said ‘The street is closed to you today’. I asked ‘Who is we’ and they replied ‘LGBTI’. When I told them that I don’t understand, they said ‘Don’t understand, just move along’.

“My ID doesn’t say that I’m a faggot”

Ekin: “ We had pins that read ‘peace’. They said ‘Take them off, or you won’t get in’. When we said ‘It just says peace, we won’t take them off’, he asked for my ID. When told them that my ID doesn’t say that I’m a faggot, they stared at us and made way. We walked chanting slogans. We were caught near Demirören. But then we ran away when they were about to detain us. 10 minutes later we were able to re-enter.”

All of this is just a small portion of what happened on the day of the march. There are even more tragic stories on the part of the iceberg that remains below the surface.

Press Statement From the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee:

Our LGBTI+ Pride March that we miss celebrating, that we were going to celebrate for the 15th time today, has been banned by the Istanbul Governor’s office once again.

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As the 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we notified the Governor’s office about the time and place of our march, and requested a meeting 20 days ago, however, we have not received a response to our inquiry. The Governor’s office made a statement a day before our march, preventing our right to object, and announced that they banned our march, taking away our most democratic right.

It has been long known by all that Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week is celebrated in Turkey for the last 25 years during the last week of June with a Pride March taking place on the last Sunday of June [since 2003]. Making a press statements is a right, protesting is a right, organizing, objecting and resisting are rights; they cannot be subjected to permission.

The reasons listed on the Governor’s ban statement are the very reasons why we march. Yes, the call we made, “evidently, received very serious reactions from different segments of society,” however, the true reason for the reactions towards a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate. The lynch and threats posed by the aforementioned factions of society are not “serious reactions,” they are public-offense. The different sectors of society have reacted, yet society itself has been waiting for long to attend this march. Istanbul Governor’s office has shown that they stand by perpetrators and not society.

The Governor’s office has banned our march with the excuse to “protect the safety of the citizens, the participants in particular, along with tourists visiting the area.” Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide, preventing us from organizing and being visible, and encouraging the ones who are threatening us. Our security will be provided by showing how strong, how crowded, how brave we are. Our security will be provided by protecting the rights of all humans, without discrimination, and protecting social peace. Our security will be provided by recognizing us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom. Our security will be provided in a country where we can have LGBTI+ Pride March.

We are not afraid, we are here, we are not going to change. You are afraid, you are going to change, you are going to get used to it. We painted this street in rainbow for 12 years, said the freedoms word, showed the beauty of living and marching together to the whole world. We are here again, this time to show we will fight darkness for our pride.

We are the ones who declared the revolution of love and gender identity. We are the ones who are excluded, ignored, and yet resilient. We are not alone, we are not wrong, and not giving up by any means. Governors, governments, states change, we stay. These threats, bans, pressures will not stops us! We miss our march, we are not giving up on our march. We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the İstanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week, and we are proud. Be furious, you!

–25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
LGBTI+ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Plus. Last year, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week added the “+” to the end. Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee explains adding the “+” after the initial for Intersex in the past years due to the fact that “we say all the combinations in the rainbow exist in our movement and we aim to socialize people with the idea of not attributing a fixed identity to anyone by judging from the outside.”