Discrimination & Hate Crimes

Discrimination and Hate Crimes committed against LGBTI in Turkey

Alan Savunması: A voice for women and the LGBTI+ community in sports 

In recent years, women’s and LGBTI+ initiatives in Turkey have been actively seeking to eradicate sexist and heteronormative violence from the realm of sports. From chants inciting rape to sexist coverage of sports news, the spectacle of sports and sports journalism have been tainted with violence. Many remain unaware of the fact that LGBTI+ and female athletes exist and compete in all branches of sports, in both national and amateur teams. Alan Savunması* is a new online platform publishing news focusing on LGBTI+ and female athletes, their negative experiences and their accomplishments. Zeynep Serinkaya from LGBTI+ News Turkey interviewed Ali from Alan Savunması on their work. We would like to remind our readers that for now Alan Savunması is only in Turkish. 

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How did you come up with the idea of Alan Savunması? Can you introduce the crew?

Alan Savunması had been in our minds for a long while. When we witnessed the inequalities experienced by a few female soccer player friends of ours and their efforts in the field, we decided that we did not want to remain indifferent to it all. These inequalities are not only the problem of the women we know. There is worldwide discrimination, which just happens to be felt more intensely in Turkey.

When we started following sports with female players, especially women’s soccer we observed that there are many LGBTI+ athletes struggling to play. I’m saying “struggling” because hegemonic masculinity and homophobia impose themselves on every realm.

While we were still enraged by what the female athletes were going through, we listened to the story of several LGBTI+ athletes’ experiences of harassment, ostracization and verbal insults on the brink of physical violence. This led us to take action. 

Bearing in mind that people are not aware of these experiences or choose to remain silent, we decided that first we needed to render these experiences visible. As we are currently continuing our undergraduate studies and have no regular income, we focused on ideas that we can realize with minimum cost and maximum effort. (Only for now!)

To that end, it was best to establish a news platform: We are journalism students so we believe we have the capacity and we think it can be really beneficial to make these inequalities be known to get people to take action. 

We are a crew of two at Alan Savunması for now. I am (Ali Safa Korkut) 23 years old and currently enrolled at Uşak University as a senior year journalism student. I live in Diyarbakır. My friend Özdemir Atuğ is a classmate of the same age, living in Aksaray. 

I am the editor and reporter for the website, Özdemir manages our social media accounts and technical maintenance. 

 How is the relationship of Alan Savunması crew with sports? What are the sports you are interested in, do you play in any teams?

We are both deeply interested in sports. I played amateur soccer for four years but I am also interested in basketball and swimming. Aside from these, I try to follow tennis, volleyball and athletics. 

As a crew, we try to follow all branches of sports, not just the ones we know. We spend every day involving ourselves in sports. 

The number of initiatives which use sports to stand against gender inequality and discrimination is increasing in Turkey. Karşı Lig, Queer Olympix, Kızlar Sahada are a few examples. How do you think one can support the individual and institutional work of activists and LGBTI+ communities seeking to alleviate the challenges of inequality in sports?

As I mentioned before, I believe visibility is the first step: We need to contribute to the visibility of both the achievements and negative experiences of female and LGBTI+ athletes, as well as the visibility of the initiatives and activists seeking to support their visibility. There are human rights activists who are into sports in their private lives yet have no idea about the victimization or the existence of female and LGBTI+ athletes. Their lack of awareness is not their fault, the media outlets have no coverage of LGBTI+ athletes and activists in their newsfeeds at all. 

By covering organizations like Karşı Lig, Queer Olympix and Kızlar Sahada in detail through the media, it is possible to create awareness. This duty falls on the shoulders of alternative media. As the mainstream media follows hegemonic masculinity and has no respect for the diversity of sexual orientation, it refutes the existence of diverse identities and leaves no space in their news cycles. Alternative media should do its share at this point and include female and LGBT+ athletes as well as the  LGBTI+ activists working to contribute to their visibility in their content. 

As for future steps to be taken, it would be useful to organize symposiums, panels, conferences with larger crowds involving sports clubs, athletes and supporters, in order to guide them towards valuing female and LGBTI+ athletes more.

Sports is perhaps the realm where corporeal and gender norms impose themselves most violently. How do you think the relationship between sports and gender-sexual orientation based discrimination can be changed?

Discrimination begins in the language. Sexist discourses are the greatest indicator of this fact. This is also the case with sports. We see that supporters of any sports use sexist discourses when they want to say something against their opponents before, during or after the game. The supporters are in a mindset that regards being a woman or being LGBTI+ as an abhorrent thing. They use ugly insults against the opponents by alluding to the qualities of a woman or an LGBTI+ individual. 

This can be defined as a manifestation of the patriarchy of our culture. Those who consider sports to be a male realm occupy the bleachers and exhibit their hate speech and sexism with their chants and banners. Therefore, I believe we have to end sexism through language. If we can purify our language from sexist utterances, we can get rid of gender discrimination in every realm of life, not just sports.

While battling against heteronormativity and sexism, is it possible to transform the industrialized and competition-driven sides of sports? In your opinion, what is the impact of reading about the positive examples on the audiences?

Sports have become a servant to capital and has been industrialized in every aspect, therefore I do not think that it can become an activity that sides with the people in the long run. However, this industrialization can have positive impacts against gender based discrimination in sports, albeit for its own interests. 

Sportswear brands such as Nike, Adidas, Puma frequently feature LGBTI+ and female athletes in their commercials. Although they claim that their sole aim is to stand against gender based discrimination, I do not believe the reality to be as such. It is a known fact that as a part of the industrialization of sports, brands seek to create new markets for their products and to increase their client bases. As such, although they are acting in their own interests, they contribute to the struggle against gender based discrimination.  

Reading positive news can create a positive influence in society as well as media.

There might be those who read the articles and news on Alan Savunması and decide that they too can write. What would you like to tell those who would like to join you or send their writings to you? What is the importance of LGBTI+ sports reporting? 

Journalists, writers, academics, students of the Department of Communication, basically anyone can send us their news articles and/or opinion pieces. Alan Savunması is open to their contribution. We would like them to know we can feature any news or articles focusing on female or LGBTI+ athletes in any field of sports. We support any content that will contribute to the visibility of female or LGBTI+ athletes.

LGBTI+ sports reporting is important for the struggle against gender based discrimination and heteronormativity.  The media coverage of the accomplishments or negative experiences of amateur or professional LGBTI+ athletes will not only change the perception of society but also that of media for better.  

Alan Savunması is a good example. Since  we started publishing, we have been observing an increase in the news on LGBTI+ athletes, especially in alternative media. 

 Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers? Aside from submitting articles, how can they support you?

I can tell our readers that they do not need to be LGBTI+ to defend the rights of women and LGBTI+. We are a case in point. Neither I and nor my friend here in Alan Savunması identify as LGBTI+ individuals. Yet we think it is a humanitarian duty to raise our voice against the injustice and to defend the rights of others. So should our readers.

I don’t know about the future but for now we do not need financial support, yet if they would like to we would not mind it 🙂 We appreciate it if you follow our social media accounts and pass the word onto the others.

Interview by: Zeynep Serinkaya

You can visit Alan Savunması at http://alansavunmasi.org.

*Translator’s note: Alan Savunması isTurkish for Zonal Defence.

Sabitfikir Magazine censors “homosexuality”  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KADEM’s reaction on LGBTI+ to CHP municipalities: Legitimizing perverted orientations

KADEM (Women and Democracy Association) known for its close connection to AKP (Justice and Development Party), targeted the CHP (Republican People’s Party) municipalities that shared messages of support for Pride Week with sexist statements.

Source: “LGBTI+ reaction from KADEM to CHP municipalities: legitimizing perverted orientations”, (KADEM’den CHP’li belediyelere LGBTİ+ tepkisi: Sapkın yönelimler meşrulaştırılıyor), artigercek.com, July 1, 2019, https://www.artigercek.com/haberler/kadem-den-cinsiyetci-aciklama?fbclid=IwAR2p0d9Xiweij4Ybx14_mSdLYVIJFJ7Sxsv6rBQi52VeI6zHh_SRsHHTWog

 

ARTI GERÇEK- KADEM, led by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan, targeted CHP municipalities that shared messages of support for the 27th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week.

In KADEM’s official Twitter account sexist expressions such as “perverted orientations” were used to refer to LGBTI+ individuals.

The nationwide statements of support by CHP municipalities for Pride Week were “an attack on future generations, society’s beliefs and values” according to KADEM:

“CHP municipalities have started publishing statements that praise and legitimize homosexuality on social media. Recognized as prepared and planned by a common source, these statements are not acceptable. To praise homosexuality is to legitimize perverted orientations that fall outside the reality of existence. Thus, these statements attack future generations, society’s beliefs and values. As KADEM, with reference to our national and spiritual values, we work with sensitivity in preserving healthy generations. We will fight against all kinds of ideas and entities that threaten the family.”

 

What happened?

As part of Pride Week, the CHP municipalities nationwide shared the statement “Hate will lose, love will win” to show support.

 

A few of the statements are as follows:

 

In spite of hate, long live life!#Pride2019 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1144917560451850242

— Datça Municipality (@datcabelediyesi) June 29, 2019

 

Not Hate but Love will Win! #Pride #Pride2019

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— Hopa Municipality (@BelediyesiHopa) June 29, 2019

 

We are Equal! We are strong together. Not hate, but love will win. #Pride2019 pic.twitter.com/XmKUfYudqf

— Kemalpaşa Municipality (@kemalpasabld) June 29, 2019

 

Not hate, but love will win! #Pride2019

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— Borçka Municipality (@Borckabel) June 29, 2019

 

We will always work for an equal and just city, country and world. We are one, equal, stronger together.

Happy LGBTI+ Pride Week. #pride2019

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— Şişli Municipality (@sislibelediyesi) June 28, 2019

 

No matter the circumstance,

Against all,

For all,

And always

Love will win!

#İstanbulPride2019

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— Maltepe Municipality (@MaltepeBelTr) June 28, 2019

 

Love will win… #Pride2019

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— Germencik Municipality ( AYDIN ) (@GermencikBLD) June 29, 2019

 

The world is beautiful with all its colors. Love will save the World; everything starts by loving one person… #Pride2019

pic.twitter.com/B5gnTXQC4l

— Kartal Municipality (@kartalbld) June 30, 2019

 

The world is beautiful with all its colors. In spite of hate, love will win!  #Pride2019 pic.twitter.com/hylyqftEln

— Didim Municipality (@DidimBelediye) June 30, 2019

 

We love all the colors of our neighborhood. #Pride2019

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— Beşiktaş Municipality (@BesiktasBel) June 30, 2019

 

Rainbow against darkness! #Pride2019

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— Fethiye Municipality (@fethiyebelediye) June 29, 2019

 

 

 

Pride March held on Mis Sokak, Taksim; police attacked dispersing crowd

Hundreds of people came together in Mis Sokak [Mis Street], Taksim for the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March: “We are here, get used to it, we are not going” After the announcement, as the group dispersed, police attacked with gas bombs and plastic bullets.

Source: Onur Yürüyüşü Mis Sokak’taydı, yürüyüş dağılırken polis saldırdı: Buradayız, alışın, gitmiyoruz! (The Pride March was on Mis Street, the police attacked as the march broke up: We’re here, get used to it, we’re not going!) Ylıdız Tar, KaosGL (https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28438) June 30, 2019

 

LGBTI+ people  and anti-discrimination activists met in Taksim today (June 30) for a press release on th LGBTI+ Pride March.

Before the march was due to begin at 17:00, police were deployed to Istiklal Caddesi [Istiklal (Independence) Avenue] and surrounding streets. During the day, they conducted identity checks on people they assumed to be LGBTI+.PHOTO

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Hundreds of people met on Mis Sokak!

The Istanbul LGBTI + Pride Week Committee gave a press release on Mis Sokak, as a result of a meeting with the police. Hundreds of people gathered in Mis Sokak.

Hundreds of people carrying rainbows, trans and intersex flags often shouted slogans on Mis Sokak: “Don’t keep quite, shout there are homosexuals,” “Whose morality is [the] general morality?” and  “Where are you my love?”

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Ahmet Şık and Gökçe Gökçen were in action!

People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul Deputy Ahmet Şık and Republican People’s Party (CHP) Vice President for Human Rights Gökçe Gökçen also participated in the action.

At 17.00, the press release was read on Mis Sokak. The Pride Week Committee’s statement said: “We do not give up our lives, our solidarity, nor our organized struggle! We are here, get used to it, we are not going.”

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Rainbow flags on buildings!

During the press release rainbow flags were hung from buildings around Mis Sokak. Among the places where the rainbow flag was hung was the Socialist Refoundation Party (SYKP) building.

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After the press release, songs from the list prepared by the Pride Week Committee were played on the street.

After the press release, the Pride Week Committee said, “We are leaving Mis Sokak and scattering to every street in Taksim. We continue to dance and have fun in the streets! ”

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Two people detained

Two people from Mis Sokak were detained during the press release.

 

Police attacked dispersing crowd

In Mis Sokak and surrounding streets police attacked the dispersing crowds with gas bombs and plastic bullets. Police also attacked places where those who fled the attacks stayed using gas bombs.

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Under the blockade of the police, marchers in Mis Sokak were attacked with  dogs. Those sitting in the area were also attacked with gas bombs and tables were upturned. 

 

Walking in Tatavla

On the other hand, LGBTI + phobia opponents who came together in Tatavla walked along Kurtuluş Caddesi {Kurtuluş (Liberation) Avenue]. During the march with rainbow flags, the slogan “We will not turn our backs, we will not turn our backs, we will not turn our backs on this way” was shouted.

 

Walk from Talimhane to Taksim Square

Another group marched from Talimhane to Taksim Square with rainbow flags and slogans.

 

Press release: We’re here, get used to it, we’re not going!

Photos: Egemen Kepekci

Press Release: 17th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March

17th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March, which we organised for today, has been banned by the Istanbul Governorate for the fifth time!

The Istanbul Governorate, which closes Istiklal Street to all social opposition groups for security reasons, has unlawfully rejected our application to gather in Bakırkoy – a legally announced public demonstration place – with the claim that we are a group which society is ‘hesitant’ about. This ban shows that not only Taksim but Istanbul as a whole is prohibited for LGBTI+ people. The hostility towards the LGBTI+ community has even become a state policy with other bans in Antalya, Mersin, METU [Middle East Technical University], and Izmir.

 

It is once again demonstrated that those who ban our Pride March with copy-and-paste reasons such as public peace and security, terror, public morality, and public health can not govern the state. Previously organised in a peaceful manner, the Pride March does not threaten the public peace – it is the law enforcement who has attacked the public in Pride Marches in the last five years.

 

It is ironic that those who are abusing their power, stealing from the public, and presenting their own obsession of power as a perpetuity problem of the state are striving to ban us on the ground of so-called public morality. Those state officials who do not hesitate to fuel the hate against LGBTI+ people, and those who targeted the LGBTI+ community three times in a week for a couple of votes they wished to receive should not forget the fact that LGBTI+s are the society itself. Those who point at us as a target are a handful of power addicts who will sink into oblivion.

 

We persistently repeat for those who ignore the demands of LGBTI+ people, for those who attempt to show us as a “disoriented” and “hesitant” group: We are determined in our struggle, and we know what we want very well! Sexual orientation and gender identity must be recognised in the Constitution! Homicides targeting the LGBTI+ community must not go unpunished, and the perpetrators must not be granted abatement for good conduct. The rights of LGBTI+ people, who are blocked from accessing fundamental human rights such as education, health, and housing, must be legally secured. Our demands neither disturb the public peace nor threatens  public security. Our demands are essential in a constitutional state in order for us to access equal citizenship rights. Those who are banning our march today must know that the public peace will only be provided if all the oppressed social groups, including LGBTI+ people, seize their rights and are assured their lives. Social peace is not possible in an unequal society! 

 

It is the 50th year of our organised struggle for a proud live since the spark that was ignited at Stonewall. In the 50th year of Stonewall, and in the 27th year of Istanbul Pride Week, we once again acknowledge the struggle by taking spirit from it [as] we fight for our bodies, desires, rights, and existence all over the world, from Orlando to New Delhi, from Palestine to Amsterdam: we neither abandon our lives and solidarity, nor collective struggle! We are here! Get used to it – we are not going away!

Happy 27th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week and 17th Pride March!

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While some Pride Events are no longer banned in Izmir, Court refused to lift the ban on the Pride March

Source: Izmir denied the request to lift the ban on Pride March (İzmir Onur Yürüyüşü yasağının kaldırılması talebi reddedildi) https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28378 21 June 2019

The court decided to reject the request to lift the ban decision on the Izmir Pride March. The Pride Week Committee reiterated their call: Tomorrow (June 22) at 18:00 we will meet in front of the Kıbrıs Şehitleri Starbucks (The Old Leman Culture Center) to deliver our press release.

Izmir’s 1st Administrative Court, which had on June 19 prevented the carrying out of a ban on some activities within the scope of Izmir Pride Week, announced today its decision on the prohibition of the march.

The court rejected the request of Genç LGBTI+ Association to lift the Governors ban of the Izmir Pride March to be held tomorrow (22 June).

The court declared that “…(the march would be an) obvious and possible danger that a crime could be committed ”. The Izmir Pride March has in fact been free from strife for years.

#PrideCantBeBanned

About the court’s decision İzmir LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee has stated:

“The court’s decision is announced. The request to lift the ban of the 7th LGBTI + Pride March was denied. Tomorrow (June 22) at 18:00 we will meet in front of Kıbrıs Şehitleri Starbucks (Old Leman Culture Center) to make our press release. We welcome all LGBTI + individuals and rights defenders! ##OnurYasaklanamaz

What had happened?

Izmir Governorship had banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week on June 14th with the below comment.

“Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations and the Implementation of the Law No. 5442 in accordance with the Provincial Administration Law No. 11 / AC articles which points at the peace and security of people living in our province, the immunity of people, ensuring public safety and well-being; ensuring national security, public safety and well-being; national security, public order, prevention of crime, protection of general health and the rights and freedoms of others or the prevention of possible violent and terrorist incidents ”.

 

Trans women were attacked in Antep, the police took the attacked women into custody

In a park in Antep, trans women were attacked. The police officers responded to the incident by arresting the women who were attacked. The police also harassed the women during custody, saying “how can a man be girly?”. After the attack, tape was attached over the park bench. We talked to İffet, who is one of the people taken into custody, about the event.

Source: Trans women were attacked in Antep, the police took the women into custody (Antep’te trans kadınlar saldırıya uğradı, polis kadınları gözaltına aldı), Yusuf Gülsevgi, Kaos GL, https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28341&fbclid=IwAR30FUuLdHFlsaFGv01ZNgU28t0saYKoMS4Kf3M-dxIENfS0IL12WWwlBiY, June 18, 2019

Can you introduce yourself to us briefly?

Of course. I am İffet, I am a 31 years-old transvestite. I work as a sex worker for a living. The moment when I started transitioning, people turned me into a vampire. In other words; I am home during the day time and on the streets during the night time. I live like a vampire. That is all.

You were attacked in Çınarlı Park. How did it happen?

It happened like this: I go to the park with the girls almost every night to find a client. There was an argy-bargy situation two days ago. Some people attacked one of our friends. The police officers arrived immediately. They took all of us into custody and released us the next day. When we came back to the park, we realized that they had covered the benches with tape and a police car was standing by.

You said that you were taken into custody, how did the police officers treat you there? Were you harassed physically or psychologically?

I swear you are nuts. There is a transvestite and a police officer, how can the officer stay silent in this situation? (Laughs) Not physically, but I was harassed verbally.

What did they say?

“What’s all this fuss in the middle of the night? You were the last thing we needed tonight. How can a man be girly?” they said.

You mentioned about tape being tied up to the benches…

To me, this means that they don’t want us. In other words, this means that a battle has started. I was born a fighter. I have always fought with people and I still live. And I will fight to win this battle.

Right after all this, the manager of the teachers’ lodge close to the park announced that LGBTI+s cannot enter the public coffee house of the lodge. What do you think about this decision?

There is a human rights violation here. The manager of the teachers’ lodge paves the way for discrimination through this decision, gives hatred a green light. What kind of morality is this, invading our living spaces?

What is your message about all the happenings?

I am not the first transvestite, nor will I be the last one. We have existed throughout history and we will exist in the future, too.