Discrimination & Hate Crimes

Discrimination and Hate Crimes committed against LGBTI in Turkey

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.

“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?

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.”

 

Kemal Ordek on Bianet: “I’ve been trying to prove that I was raped for 2 years and 7 court hearings”

Kemal Ordek on rape, law and activism nearly two years after being assaulted in their home. The interview with Bianet was published a day before the court ruled on the case of sexual assault. Ordek claimed that one of the assailants in the attack on their home had also raped them. On May 24, the court ruled that there was no sexual assault. All three defendants were sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison for attempting to plunder.

Source: Çicek Tahaoglu, “Tam 2 Senedir, 7 Duruşmadır Tecavüze Uğradığımı Kanıtlamaya Çalışıyorum,” bianet, 23 May 2017, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/186721-tam-2-senedir-7-durusmadir-tecavuze-ugradigimi-kanitlamaya-calisiyorum

The final verdict will be given on the president of Red Umbrella Association, Kemal Ordek’s case, on May 24.

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Kemal Ordek, a sex worker, a defender of sex workers’ rights for many years, was attacked at home by three people in 2015. One of the attackers seized Ordek’s mobile phone, also sexually abused them. Then they took Ordek to an ATM to take money from his account. Ordek saw a police patrol car at that moment, and managed to escape from the attackers.

Three days later, when we talked to Ordek, they were explaining in fear and anger how the attackers threatened him at the police station by saying, “We know where you live, we will be released anyway, think about it,” and what kind of dialogues were between police officers and attackers, “Don’t waste us for this poof, we understand each other right, my brother?”

That night, the attackers were released. They continued to disturb Ordek via phone for a while. And a nonsuit motion was granted for police officers who tried to argue Ordek out of their criminal complaint and were making Ordek wait and sit with the attackers in the same car and saying “the people of lut are still alive”.

Ordek, as an experienced human rights defender, pursued the violation that they were subject to at this time. Lawsuits were brought against three attackers, two of them were charged with robbery, threatening, and limiting a person’s freedom, the third was charged additionally with major sexual assault, and they were arrested.

Following the decision of the local court, prosecutor Turkay Turkler appealed the sexual assault verdict with the allegations of non-existence of “an evidence above suspicion, complete, certain and credible”.

On May 24 at 14.00, the trial will resume in Ankara for a summary judgment. Before the trial, we met Ordek and discussed the court’s approach to the sexual assaults, the consent issue and the vague borders of “activist Kemal and victim Kemal.”

“There wasn’t a discussion on consent, it was very important that the penalty was imposed according to the testimony”

Your lawyers described the fact that one of the attackers was punished for sexual assault as “leading case.” Could you explain the reason?

This was a leading case because it reflected the things we wanted to say as activists. In the legal struggle following the things I experienced, the concept of consent wasn’t questioned at court, and verdict was given according to the testimony. The court committee said “there is a sexual assault, it is a major sexual assault, there is a limitation on a person’s freedom, and there are crimes like threatening and insulting,” in consensus and approved a punishment that wasn’t requested, or predicted by the prosecutor.

From these points, it’s a leading case, but it ignored the robbery, which was lacking. Also, they didn’t issue an arrest warrant until the last hearing.

(more…)

Bianet: The defendant who threatened LGBTIs and his lawyer do not show up in court

Trial began today for Alperen Ocakları Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican, who made a call for violence directed at Pride Week participants. Neither Mican nor his lawyer attended the hearing. 

Alperen Ocakları (Alperen Hearths) are a far-right ultranationalist and Islamist youth group linked to the nationalist Great Union Party (BBP).

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Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “LGBTİ’leri Tehdit Eden Sanık da, Avukatı da Mahkemeye Gelmedi,” Bianet, 18 May 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/186590-lgbti-leri-tehdit-eden-sanik-da-avukati-da-mahkemeye-gelmedi

The first hearing of a trial leveled at the Alperen Hearths’ Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican for his threatening calls directed at Pride Week participants last year took place in the Kartal Judiciary’s 44th Penal Court.

Defendant in the trial Mican and his lawyer did not attend the hearing, but six people who were Alperen Hearths members and wore BBP badges came to observe the hearing. After six observers from Alperen Hearths entered the courtroom, only six people from [a group of] LGBTI rights advocates were let into the courtroom.

A decision was issued to forcibly bring to court Mican, who did not have justification for not attending the hearing.

Eight lawyers were at the ready for the trial, in which the Istanbul LGBTI Association, the Human Rights Association (IHD) and representatives from community centers joined as complainants.

The next hearing will take place on 5 October at 13:30.

Mican is being tried for the crime of “incitement of animosity and hostility or contempt” (Turkish Penal Code 216 / 1.2).

Defendant who made calls for violence had been tried before for torture

While saying that discrimination against LGBTI individuals was wrong, lawyer Eren Keskin emphasized that in the European Court of Human Rights, the only and most indicative criteria for speech constituting a crime is making calls for violence.

Keskin, while reminding [the court] that the defendant had been tried previously for torturing a person for eight days, demanded that Mican be held pending trial.

While saying that the calls for arrest were rejected at this stage, the court issued a decision to bring Mican to court forcibly for the next session. Mican did not have justification for not attending the hearing.

“A threat not only to LGBTI [individuals], but to all citizens”

Rozerin Seda Kip, one of SPoD LGBTI’s lawyers, requested to intervene in the case. Kip, who emphasized that SPoD [a non-governmental LGBTI organization in Turkey] had 400 LGBTI members, said that they had another file in which they were complainant against the defendant that was in the investigation stage.

Kip, who spoke to Bianet, explained that while the chief judge asked all complainants who gave statements, “Are you LGBTI?” the defendant’s calls were violent and a threat to not only LGBTI [individuals], but to all citizens in the country.

Kip said the following: “We remember the experiences of Pride Week like yesterday. We will pursue this trial. Many of our lawyer friends joined this trial. There will be even more of us in the next hearing.”

What happened?

Last year, prior to the 7th Istanbul Trans Pride March planned for June 19 and the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March planned for June 26, a number of groups such as the Anatolian Muslim Youth and Alperen Hearths spread threatening messages and called for attacks of the marches.

While Alperen Hearths put together a press meeting in Üsküdar on June 14 at 22:30, [their] Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican said that if the government did not block the marches, Alperen Hearths would block them as “representatives of the deep nation.”

On June 17, the Istanbul Governorship announced that it would not “give permission” to either one of the marches.

Istanbul LGBTI, the Human Rights Association (IHD), SPoD LGBTI, and the Pride Week Committee alongside individual activists turned to prosecution and filed a criminal complaint about the threats directed at the marches and the Governorship’s decision to ban the marches.

In the criminal charge prepared for Alperen Hearths Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican, it is requested that Mican be punished for the crime of “incitement of animosity and hostility or contempt” (Turkish Penal Code 216 / 1.2).

Yeni Akit: Perversion at Robert College

Yeni Akit is a conservative daily newspaper that engages in hate speech against LGBTI people and other groups. This is a verbatim translation. 

The gay-lesbianism perversion injected by the evil powers doing all they can to play with genetic codes of Muslim Turkish society has now reached as far as schools.

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Source: Faruk Arslan, “Robert Koleji’nde Sapkınlık,” Yeni Akit, March 31 2017, http://www.yeniakit.com.tr/haber/robert-kolejinde-sapkinlik-294788.html

The gay-lesbianism perversion injected by the evil powers doing all they can to play with genetic codes of Muslim Turkish society has now reached as far as schools. It has come to light that the American Robert College has designated the dates March 27-31 as “Gay and Homosexual Week.” It has been discovered that the week-long activities that involve movies, books and competitions that all aim to transfer the homosexual perversion to high school students were organized by the U.S. educators Marshall Hoover and Joe Welch.

THEY WILL INJECT “HOMOSEXUALITY” TO HIGH-SCHOOL STUDENTS

Robert College did not make a prior announcement for the activities involved in the “Gay and Homosexual Week” and allegedly organized it without approval of the Ministry of Education, informing the teachers via direct email. It has been reported that Robert College, which is rooted abroad, designated the theme of this week’s activities organized under Alliance/Solidarity Week as homosexuality. The American Robert College, joining the chorus of perverts that represent the disease of homosexuality as a normal human condition, has added 25 homosexuality-related books to its library collection. The covers of related books are marked with the rainbow symbol, which represents these perverts called LGBT. The email that Robert College sent to its teachers included the following statements about the LGBT books: “Have we skipped any books? Let us know and we will mark their covers. We have also prepared a jar for you to notify us about books on this subject that are not in our library.” It was reported that a big rainbow image for students to take pictures under was prepared at the College.

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THE HOMO COMPETITION AND PRIZE

A competition about homosexuals was organized in the part of Robert College known as Marble Hall. Robert College prepared a board with pictures of “famous” homosexuals and asked students to write the names of the perverts on the picture with a ballot. It was announced that the students who can answer the most questions will win a “fabulous prize.”

THEY HAD A 17 YEAR OLD GIVE A PRESENTATION ON HOMOSEXUALITY

An information desk was also set up at the school. At the desk, students’ questions on homosexuality were addressed, and homosexuality was praised. Robert College did not stop there. During “Gay and Homosexual Week,” an 11th grader named Kaan Tarhan gave a presentation on “biological causes of homosexuality.” The perverts’ presentation, that they had a high school student give, took place in the teachers’ lounge called “Gould Hall.”

IMMORAL MOVIES

The Robert College’s homosexuality activities today (Thursday) will include movie screenings. The students will be shown two movies involving obscene scenes related with gay and lesbianism at Robert College, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Education. At 3PM the “Geography Club,” at 6PM Ferzan Özpetek’s “Loose Cannons” movie on the story of a gay man’s struggle with his family and friends who do not accept him will be screened. In order to increase the attendance to these obscene movies, the Robert College administration announced that various snacks will be served during the screenings.

THEY CONFINED THEMSELVES TO SILENCE

The Robert College authorities to whom we referred regarding the subject were allegedly not available and have refrained from making any statement.