Discrimination & Hate Crimes

Discrimination and Hate Crimes committed against LGBTI in Turkey

On the Third Day of Mersin Pride Week: We are Getting Wet!

Mersin Pride will continue through the week. Today, July 11, marks the third day of events and the 4th Mersin Pride is once more about resistance!

Source: “On the Third Day of Mersin Pride Week: We are Getting Wet!”, (Mersin Onur Haftası’nın Üçüncü Gününde:Islanıyoruz!”, pembehayat, July 11, 2018,  http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1837       

The 4th Mersin Pride events will continue throughout the week, starting with pride swimming on July 9, 2018. There will be panels and exhibitions which curate topics which range from the forced migration of LGBTI+ people, to a forum and discussion about the rejection of masculinity, to the opening of an art show titled Night” which focuses on the life of Elif–who could not endure her family’s pressure and committed suicide. On day three of Mersin Pride Week, there will be an event titled “A Rejection Story: The Ugly Duckling and Finding our Own Swans.”

Another event taking place on the third day of the pride week is “We are Getting Wet: A Gullüm Knowledge Contest.” Mersin Pride Week will continue to open spaces for struggle through resistance, just as it began this year with the adoption of the same slogan.

Don’t Forget to Stop by Night!

Night” is an exhibition that focuses on the life of a trans woman who spoke with Pembe Hayat about her experience at the factory she worked in, including the harassment she was subjected to which resulted in her leaving her job, and who later committed suicide.

Works by Raziye Köksal Kartal and Ateş Alpar focus on Elif’s point of view and her life in Mersin. Kartal, who spoke at the opening of the exhibition, said they titled the exhibition after Elif’s dog as a way to remember her.

You can find out more about Mersin Pride Week by checking out their Facebook page here.

 

Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ is Released

Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Released Today after his statement at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Source: “Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ is Released”, (“ODTÜ LGBTİ+’dan Özgür Gür Serbest”), pembehayat, July 9, 2018, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1833

Özgür Gür from Middle East Technical University (METU),  LGBTI+ Solidarity, as well as the head of the Council of Student Representatives (CSR) was taken from his home and detained on Sunday, July 8. He was released today, July 9, after his statement at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Gür’s lawyer, Erkan Çiftçi, said that during Gür’s detainment at the police station he was questioned about banners put up at METU graduation ceremony which read: “We are not a group of students, but the school’s LGBTI+ people. We are here! It is our right to live safely on the streets and on campus.” Another banner read: “Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU.”

Çiftçi stated that Mehmet Gür also asked: “did you shout out ‘Rector Resign’ slogans?”

What had happened?

METU security guards attacked students who put up a rainbow flag and banners during the graduation ceremony.

At first the private security guards said “we’ll take the flag down”, then they threatened the students from METU LGBT+ Solidarity who put up a rainbow flag at the bleachers. The security guards attacked students when they put up banners during the rector’s speech that said, “We are not a group of students, but the school’s LGBTI+ people. We are here! It is our right to live safely on the streets and on campus” and “Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU.”

Three students were detained after the protests at the graduation ceremony on July 6, 2018. Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ Solidarity, the head of the CSR, was taken from his home today and detained.

 

After “Perversion” flyers in Ankara, “Revolting” flyers in Izmir were distributed

After flyers that said, “Homosexuality is perversion” were distributed in residential mailboxes in Esat, Ankara today (July 20), flyers that said “Homosexuality is revolting and could be reversed by means of persuasion” were distributed to people living in Kordon, Izmir.

Source: “After “Perversion” flyers in Ankara, “Revolting” flyers in Izmir were distributed”, (Ankara’da “Sapkınlıktır” Bildirisinden Sonra İzmir’de “İğrençliktir” Bildirileri Dağıtıldı), pembehayat.org, July 20, 2018, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1844

Flyers that said, “No to homosexuality and homosexual organizations” were distributed today in Esat, Ankara. These flyers proliferate hate speech, refer to homosexuals as “sexual perverts” and claim that they are supported by the “British deep state.”

Flyers that said, “Homosexuality could be reversed by means of persuasion; it is immoral and revolting” were distributed to people sitting on grass at a park in Alsancak, Izmir. The flyers state that youths should not fall into this trap, [and] protect their moral values and live an “honorable” life. They claim this under the guise of “human rights” and continue with “We want Kemalist young men who protect their country and people, not young men who put on make-up and have a soft spoken voice.”

“These people are detached from love.”

One person who saw these flyers being distributed spoke with Pembe Hayat:

“I do not understand how people can think that homosexuality can be reversed by ‘persuasion’ in 2018 when the DSM* removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders many years ago. It is obvious to me that these people are detached from scientific knowledge and love. When there is such good progress being made regarding LGBTI+ people; when marriage is becoming legalized around the world, homosexuals in Turkey are still being targeted with homophobic attitudes through these kinds of leaflets. How long will LGBTI+ people have to hide their love? How long are they going to be subjected to hate speech and to stares of disgust when they walk hand in hand? Nobody can decide for anybody who they should love. The rainbow will always exist.”

*DSM: the abbreviation for American Psychological Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.” The American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1973.

“Let’s fight against Homophobia by having our stories told”

Lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual women tell stories about the violation of their rights and how they were exposed to discrimination. First story by Zeynep S.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Hikâyelerimiz anlatılsın diye homofobiye karşı mücadele edelim”, Kaos GL, March 19, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25360

About 2 months remain before the 17th of May, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Throughout these 2 months lesbian, transsexual and bisexual women, through KaosGL.org, are going to tell their stories of the violation of their rights and how they were exposed to discrimination. We will listen to lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women’s experiences in every aspect of life from education, health and family to work life.

The first story belongs to Zeynep S:

Not being able to tell our story

I have experienced discrimination in regards to sexual orientation several times. Being verbally abused by your peers in school and by your family and the inability to walk the streets holding hands; aren’t these already discrimination? Still, I want to talk about my most tragi-comical discriminative experiences. I call it tragi-comical because it was in an event organised by an NGO that claims to be working for women’s rights where I came across by the event organiser turned into discriminative behaviour.

Eight years ago, there was a meeting in Ankara. Women’s conditions and experiences were supposed to be discussed. In this activity, women of different ages were gathered together and the mediated conversation was directed to recounting experiences. The topic was sexism.

Immediately starting to talk in a meeting has never been a thing I would do. I waited, I listened to everyone else. Listening to severe sexual harassment stories encouraged my audacity. Yet, I continued listening. About 10 women quoted their stories. Rape in marriage, sexual abuse, safe sex methods and abortion were discussed. All the sexism-related experiences discussed were between men and women. Possibly. I wanted to tell my story, too, but since no other homosexual women shared their experience and even the existence of homosexual women wasn’t discussed I was pushed to my corner.

There were some missing points, but there was a sincere atmosphere. I decided to tell my story as the meeting was getting to the end. I felt brave since I had recently come out to my mother. I started talking, before telling my story I decided to make an introduction.

I said: “We spoke about sexism but all the stories where experiences between woman and man,” I was about to continue when one of the participants said: “what else could it possibly be.” It was one of those times when I would escape from speaking in a meeting; when I heard that I blushed and my heart was jumping out of my mouth. The moderator didn’t say anything so as I was trying to calm myself down I said, “sexism can be experienced between women too.”

The moderator asked, “Are you a homosexual?”

I answered, “Your topic has nothing to do with me being a homosexual or not. This is the topic; sexism is not only being experienced between men and women.” This broke my courage including the story I was about to tell.

The moderator asked again: “Are you a homosexual? Please tell if you’re lesbian, as long as you’re telling your story.”

This insistence, encouraged the guests as they were staring at me with their curious eyes, someone asked, “Some doctors believe your homosexuality is an illness, have you ever received treatment?”

I told them homosexuality was not a disease, that their claim was not scientific and that I identify myself as bisexual. As I was not yet done with my sentence, the moderator panicked and said things like: “our meeting is about to end. We have said quite a lot in the past 1.5 hours.” However, s/he didn’t say anything to the participant who said “homosexuality is illness” and s/he ended the meeting. My story stayed with me.

In the end, a title was asked for this series of articles. I would say: “Let’s fight against Homophobia by having our stories told”, this is my title.

Photo Credit: Kelly Beeman

Homophobic lecture notes in the medical faculty of Istanbul University

The lecture notes for 4th year pediatric class in the medical faculty of Istanbul University refers to homosexuality as a disorder that must be treated.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “İstanbul Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi’nde homofobik ders notu,” kaosGL.org, 26 March 2018, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25407

According to the lecture notes which were posted on social media by the 4th year students in medical faculty of Istanbul University, homosexuality is introduced as a “Temporarily growing tendency towards same sex interest to be carefully monitored and corrected.”

The student who spoke to KaosGL.org, stated s/he had shared these lecture notes on their social media account right away after seeing it, and that they don’t know which lecturer wrote it.

The student indicated that during their medical education they have come across similar homophobic and transphobic statements before and said: “the professor teaching endocrinology to the 4th year students also used insulting expressions to refer to transsexuals and females.”

Homosexuality is not a disease!

Psychologists, psychiatrists and other specialists for mental health have concluded that homosexuality is not a disease, a mental disorder or an emotional problem. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) took homosexuality off their list of mental and emotional disorders in 1973. In 1975, the American Psychological Association also moved to support this perspective. Both these associations warned mental health specialists to stop associating homosexuality with illness. This stance was reaffirmed by both institutions with new research. Additionally, in 1992 the World Health Organization removed the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the list of International Classification of Diseases. Turkish psychiatry also uses the version with homosexuality removed as a disease.

Here, you can find the Frequently Asked Questions brochure prepared by the Kaos GL NGO for frequently asked questions about homosexuality answered by specialists and life examples.

Attack on Stand for Hacettepe Queer Studies Community

A group of people who claimed to be the police attacked the stand opened to promote Hacettepe Queer Studies Community on campus.

Source: Gözde Demirbilek, “Hacettepe Kuir Araştırmaları Topluluğu standına saldırı,” kaosGL.org, 25 April 2018, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25663

Today (25th of April) the Hacettepe Queer Studies Community opened a stand with the purpose of promoting their community. Around 10:30, the community’s stand was attacked by a group of 10-15 people.

The community quoted the attack to KaosGL.org as follows:

“The leader of the attacker group said they were the police of the campus and that our stand, which was opened with the permission of Health, Culture and Sport Directorate, wasn’t legal, as they tore down the publications brought by KaosGL and the rainbow flag. They walked over to us while taking our photos and filming us. We tried to record a video of the attack we were subjected to. The person who claimed to be a police officer told us “I will take your statements”. While this attack was taking place, the security guards came and told us that we had to stay behind our stand. Meanwhile, people around us were pointing at us.”

“Finally, an officer from the Health, Culture and Sport Directorate came and told us that we had to close down our stand. After closing the stand we separated for some time because the group of attackers broke into smaller groups and continued keeping us under surveillance.”

I experienced an attack, how can I file a complaint?

Lawyer Kerem Dikmen from Kaos GL, explains how one can file a complaint if they experienced an attack or were exposed to a hate crime:

The easiest way to use your right to complain is to approach the law enforcement officials and inform them of your complaint. In places like a village which are under Jandarma’s jurisdiction you can submit your complaint to the station of Jandarma and, in central areas, to the police station.

You have to apply to the station responsible for the area/district in which the incident took place. If your complaint is not accepted, that’s an offense committed by the law enforcement officer who rejects it. If such a situation occurs, the officer could be accused of negligence.

Another option is to apply for prosecution with a written a petition. It’s beneficial to take some precautions before going to the prosecutor’s office. First, if there is a risk for the attack to happen again because of filing a complaint, first make sure of your own safety. Second, it gets (increasingly) difficult to confirm the injuries on the body as time passes. For this reason, you have to take a medical report in which the injuries are confirmed; preferably from a state hospital and if not, from a private hospital. Third, if possible, verify the locations of any surveillance cameras that recorded you. These could be at a bank, a state building or a workplace, or the could be private cameras people place around their houses/apartment to safeguard their surroundings. Also, take notes of the names of people who were in that place and if possible, their contact information; this will be necessary when referring to witnesses in the future. Finally, if you have any text messages related to the incident on your phone, you must not erase them. You must include all these documents and information in the petition you submit to the prosecutor.

If the reason of the complaint is a threat, you should definitely inform the police station if possible, if not be sure to inform the public prosecutor. Even if this can’t save you from any further physical harm by the attacker, the possible consequences may stop the attacker from carrying out the attack.

Transphobic Statement from the Pedagogy Association

The Pedagogy Association claims that with a set of methods, trans children can develop “a gender identity that matches their biological sex.”

Source: “Transphobic Statement from the Pedagogy Association”, (Pedagoji Derneği’nden Transfobik Açıklama), kasogl.org, July 19, 2018, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=26300

The Pedagogy Association published an article claiming that trans children can develop “a gender identity that matches their biological sex.”

The Pedagogy Association does not see any harm in defining trans existence as “unusual” and as a “disorder”.

This comes in direct contradiction to the World Health Organization who 2 months ago removed trans identities from the “mental illness” category in the list of International Disease Classifications.

The association states that in a child’s gender identity development process, it is ‘natural’ for “a male to perceive himself as a male” and “a female to perceive herself as a female” and cases where this is the opposite should be medically treated.

Instead of acknowledging accepted scientific knowledge, the association continues to embrace the binary gender system saying that incorrect parental guidance and environmental factors are the reasons why children have gender dysphoria.

The association states that “for a person to develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex is natural” and continues the article saying, “sometimes a boy feels like a girl and starts behaving like a girl, and sometimes a girl feels like a boy and starts behaving like a boy. This shows that the person has not been able to develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex.”

“A Gender Identity that Matches One’s Sex”

The association defines trans existence as “unusual:” “For a child to develop a gender identity other than its own sex is an unusual situation. This should be addressed with care and the reason for the deviation in the child’s gender identity should be investigated. By seeking help from specialists when necessary, the child should be supported in developing a gender identity that matches their own sex.” The claim has no scientific basis.

The Pedagogy Association claims that it is a waste of time for parents of trans children to take their children to psychiatry specialists and that with intervention at an ‘early age’ the child can ‘recover:’ “…seeking psychiatry specialists for a solution drives people who experience gender identity issues into helplessness. Parents are told that this gender identity issue is normal and that it should not be intervened with. However, with early and appropriate interventions, a child’s gender identity problem can be resolved.”

Well, what does the association advice parents who have a trans child? Complete uncertainty! The association states that psychiatrists are not able to solve this ‘problem’ and that the solution is in “environmental, educational and therapeutic interventions.”

What Should Parents Who Have a Trans Child Do?

In the 143rd issue of Kaos GL Magazine’s “Health” themed file, in an article titled “Family and Transition Process in Trans Children and Adolescents,” Prof. Dr. Şahika Yüksel and Seven Kaptan offer suggestions to parents of trans children.

Yüksel and Kaptan advice parents to put gender binary constructs aside and to accept their child.

Yüksel and Kaptan end their article saying: “Parents pursue information so that they can understand and give the best response to what their children are going through. Ideally, while hiding their own emotional/intellectual experiences from their children, parents support their children, adapt to this process and try to recognize their children’s needs. Even though it is hard, parents, over time gain a new perspective on the concept of gender. Embraced acceptance may take years. What will be helpful to remember for the family is in fact general suggestions appropriate for all children: ‘Accept your child and love him/her’, ‘question traditional attitudes’, ‘create a safe space for your child’, ‘research acceptable activities.’ Forcing adolescents into dressing and behaving in a way that matches their biological sex will not shape them according to binary genders, but will increase their gender dysphoria.”