Discrimination & Hate Crimes

Discrimination and Hate Crimes committed against LGBTI in Turkey

Professor Sues Same-sex Neigbhbours

Foreign couple GS and GH are currently involved in a legal battle with their neighbours, who have filed complaints against them in which they use homophobic language. The couple have been at their residence on Büyükada since Christmas 2016. GS spoke to LGBTI News Turkey about the ongoing situation.

 

LGBTI News: You moved to the island to give your dog more space. How long after you moved in did you begin to have problems with your neighbours?

GS: We found this apartment in May 2016, but we didn’t move in until Christmas because the problems started with the neighbours; when they saw two men were moving in, they started disturbing us. We didn’t understand in the beginning what was happening. There is a law on the island that you are not allowed to renovate or do any construction work during summer, we were not aware of this as the real estate agent had already started the repairs as we had in our contract with the seller. One day, the neighbour came down and shouted that it was her holiday and she didn’t want any noise in the building, we sent the workers home. That evening we bought wine and chocolate as a present and went to their door to apologise, she yelled at us saying that she doesn’t want anyone in the garden looking at her, and slammed the door. We stopped the renovation during summer  2016, and we continued after the season had finished, as we had obtained a permit from KUDEB.

LGBTI News: Is it correct to say the problems began with your dogs? What objections did your neighbours have to them?

GS: The problems were never about the dogs, but I came to this realization after the court case began. We had only one dog, Ginger, when we moved in. During winter 2016/2017 we had a big snow storm, so two dogs came and took shelter in our garden. Both are very old and had lived in the streets of Buyukada for more than 10 years, so we decided to take them in until the storm was over. Their names are Volkan and Dragos. Everyone who lives on Buyukada knows them. Also I have to tell that our garden is not protected by walls, so any animal can come in to the garden easily. Then the inevitable thing happened, we fell in love with those dogs and decided to adopt them with one of our neighbours; we called our vet and we registered them as pets with all the necessary steps such as vaccinations and microchips and got their pet passports. The neighbors came in the beginning of the summer season ( they come to the island only during summers ) and found the perfect opportunity to get rid of us by complaining about our dogsThe dogs were  just an excuse; they objected because we are also foreigners, we live together and also we were members of another religion and if you read their police statements, you will see that they basically complained about us being gay and insulted us, and they hardly mentioned the dogs. So they went and complained about many different things and started many cases, including one to remove the animals from the building, in an attempt to push us out of the building, knowing that we would never leave our dogs.

LGBTI News: The thing that had brought you to our attention is a lawsuit regarding your sexuality. Would you kindly elaborate on your neighbors attitude and actions towards you regarding your sexuality and your partner?

GS: The case is about us offending them with our behavior, they said we are living like husband and wife ( though we never came out to them, so I assume they were looking through our windows) they also said that we are feminine, and people like us should be away from normal families. They even had the courage to use a very offensive word  [the neighbours used the word kırık (literally broken), which is an offensive slang term used to refer to homosexuals], this is all in their police statement, meaning they were talking to a police officer, and they signed this statement. They had the courage to protest every aspect of our private lives in front of police officers.

We live on the garden floor, so when we are home, the neighbor above starts stomping really loud, they stare and take our photos when we sit in the garden, sometimes one of them stands outside our kitchen window and stares at us for a while, when they walk upstairs, past our terrace, they hit the stair rail hard and make threatening grunting noises, they point at us if we come across them in the streets of the island, they leave garbage at our backdoor. How did we end up in a court case? I have no Idea, but I am sure they would do anything, using their positions in society to have us evicted. The complainants have listed their social positions in their petition, in what I believe to be an attempt to divert the attention away from their bad intentions.  I am afraid because the neighbour who gave the statement is a doctor – a professor – so if a gay patient visits him, he may discriminate and refuse to take care of them!

LGBTI News: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

GS: I am asking for support in regards of our court cases, the neighbors are of high status where they educate or treat young adults. Their positions and their ideas need to be known. Could you imagine if a homophobic doctor, for example, refused to treat his gay patient? This is not only about us, today they are targeting us, tomorrow it could be any member of society.

 

GS attended a second court hearing on December 18th 2018 and a third on March 25th 2019. During the second hearing Prof. Galip Zihni Sanus, a key complainant, disputed that he had used the word kırık to describe the couple, and appeared to have altered his statements. The case continues. The fourth hearing is scheduled for 13:30, June 13th 2019  at Adalar Adliyesi, Büyükada, Istanbul.

LGBTI+ associations launch campaign against the killings of transgender people

Two days ago, Gökçe Saygı, a trans woman was murdered at her home in Antalya. Saygı’s loss added to the loss of many other trans women, all victims of transphobia and the impunity against hate killings.

LGBTI+ and women’s associations launched a hashtag campaign on May 14, repeating their demand for the outlawing of hate crimes in the Penal Code. The civil society organisations have been campaigning for a law against hate crimes for years, emphasizing how discrimination against LGBTI+ individuals results in impunity against violence, with sentence reductions on the premises of “provocation”. The activists have been repeatedly demanding public awareness for the killings, stating “Trans murders are political!”.

Turkey has ranked 48th among 49 countries in ILGA Europe’s annual review of LGBTI+ rights, which underlines that the country has currently no law defines and targets hate speech or hate crime. The report also suggests that at least 4 trans women were murdered and many were attacked on 2018.

The hashtag for the campaign #Yasaİstiyoruz means #WeWantALaw [against the hate crimes].  Members of Antalya-based LGBTI+ organisation BİZ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Association has called for a gathering today [May 15, 2019] at 19:00 to commemorate Gökçe Saygı and to read their press statement. The association has also stated that they will be following the trial.

Trans woman was murdered in her house

In Antalya, a trans woman was murdered in her home.

Source: Trans woman was murdered in her house (trans kadın evinde öldürüldü), Pembe Hayat, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler/detay/2152/antalyarsquoda-trans-kadin-evinde-olduruldu, May 15, 2019

Trans woman Gökçe Saygı, who had been living in Antalya, was stabbed to death by a man who came to her house today (May 13).

During the early hours of today, Gökçe, a transgender woman who had been living in Antalya was attacked by a man who entered her home. After hearing shouting and noises from the apartment, the neighbouring residents called the police. They found Gökçe’s dead body in the house. Gökçe was killed after being stabbed seven times by the murder suspect who entered her home.

The CSI team made an investigation at the crime scene and found out the identity of the murder suspect through the security camera records of the neighbouring building. The law enforcement officers are now looking for the suspect. Gökçe’s body was taken to the Council of Forensic Medicine of Turkey.  

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Group on the bans for the 9th METU Pride March

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March:

Source: The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March (ODTÜ Lgbti+ Dayanışması’nın Onur Yürüyüşüne yasak kararına ilişkin açıklaması), Lubunya Dayanışma Ağı / Lubunya Solidarity Network https://www.facebook.com/lubunyadayanismagi/photos/a.1731041177022948/2032498373543892/?type=3&theater, 7 May 2019

The METU Rectorate has sent an e-mail to all students, graduates, and academics of the university today around at 14:00. In the e-mail, the rectorate announced that the 9th METU Pride March, which is allegedly organized by “various non-governmental organizations”, shall not be permitted since it is an LGBTI+ event and there is, the rectorate claims, still a ban against the march, and it shall be met with police violence if any event is organized. In an environment where there is no such a ban, the METU Administration is trying to manipulate the situation by acting as if such a ban still exists.

It should be noted that METU LGBTI+ Solidarity which has been targeted by the police for years, would organize the 9th METU Price March on May 10. METU LGBTI+ Solidarity has made great efforts to secure gender equality, fight against LGBTI+ phobia, and ensure that the campus is a safe place for the past 23 years and shall continue doing so. Throughout the e-mail, METU Administration discriminates against METU LGBTI+ Solidarity and the LGBTI+ students pointing them out as a target, just as it has been doing for many years. This is a violation of basic human rights as well as METU’s tradition and culture. Besides, the METU Administration is in violation of international human rights agreements such as the Istanbul Convention which Turkey is a signatory of and breaches the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Governance and the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Communication that our school is a part of.

The METU Pride March is not organized by a variety of non-governmental organizations, but by METU LGBTI+ Solidarity. Presenting the demand for permission as something marginal is absurd and irrational, just like the reason for cancelling the Spring Festival last week claiming that it is because of “LGBT, Marxist, extreme leftist, HDP groups”. It is clear that this announcement fits the pro-government media or Zaytung* better. As seen from the protests demanding the Spring Festival, the administration does not represent METU traditions and thought that it could ban the march, threatening the whole METU community with police violence.

The most saddening part is that the METU Administration aspires to be a one-man regime fitting this country’s mentality of lawlessness. The bans against LGBTI+ events, imposed  both during and after the state of emergency, has been lifted by the court after stating that no ban of this extent can be introduced even during the state of emergency. In addition, CİMER (Presidential Communication Centre) has confirmed that there is no such general ban and each event shall be evaluated on its own. All the detailed statements in relation to the legal status are available as attached.

We call out to all METU people as well as those who want to protect freedoms; to the people who are against LGBTI+ phobia, sexism, discrimination, and patriarchy. Come here and let’s defend life in spite those who are full of hatred. Let’s spread our peaceful parade and rainbow celebration with marches and events for the whole of METU on May 10.

You can find detailed information relating to the legal status below:

https://tinyurl.com/lgbtiyasakkarar

METU LGBTI+ SOLIDARITY

We invite you to support with the hashtag #ODTUyeRenkVer

*Translator’s note: Zaytung is an online satirical magazine based in Turkey

Also see our article on the lifting of the LGBTI Activitities ban in Ankara and the protests on the METU campus in support of the spring festival.

Hatred at TİHEK Symposium: “Indecencies such as [being] LGBT….”

TİHEK (Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey) is supposed to work against discrimination but continues to discriminate. At the symposium organized by TİHEK, LGBTI+ people were targeted: “Indecencies such as [being] LGBT are attempts to undermine humankind, its nature and family.”

Source: “Hatred at TİHEK* Symposium: ‘Indecencies such as LGBT….’” (“TİHEK sempozyumunda nefret: ‘LGBT vb. hayasızlıklar…’), Yıldız Tar, kaosgl.org, https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28165&fbclid=IwAR1bjPk3iKhd4fbSpMK10tskswIz6vESm7SKXc28LU-U0vtuQYUaS7tle9o, April 30, 2019.

TİHEK had recently rejected the application of two trans women, claiming that “sexual identity is not considered as a basis of discrimination”. The institution is meant to protect individuals against discrimination yet does not recognize gender identity and sexual orientation based discrimination. This time, the institution demonstrated a discriminatory attitude at its conference titled “International Symposium on the Right to Protect Family” with the motto “It’s Time for Family”.

On the first day of the symposium (April 29), speaker Prof. Dr. Orhan Çeker said “Indecencies like [being] LGBT are attempts to undermine humankind, its nature and family. I believe that the church and the synagogue would stand against these indecencies as well, and we should struggle against it together if necessary”.

TİHEK also shared these statements on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The symposium continues today [April 30,2019] with speakers including Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator in Turkey.

TİHEK member spews hatred

Last year, the Former Chair of the Prime Ministery Human Rights Office and Member of TİHEK Board Mehmet Altuntaş targeted Pride Walk through is social media account.

He had written “What pride, what love? Love happens between two different sexes. Both the divine creation and nature says this. This is a regression. It’s regressing back from nature towards savagery”, as a comment under Amnesty International’s tweet about Istanbul Pride Walk.

Following Altuntaş’s homophobic statements Pink Life Association has applied to the Ombudsman Institution.

TIHEK Law itself is discriminatory!

TİHEK was established by a law published in 2016. The decision making body of the institution was defined to be a Human Rights and Equality Board in Turkey.

The institution discriminates against LGBTI+ individuals as it ignores discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Turkish law bans all discrimination based on sexuality, race, color, language, religion, sect, philosophical and political view, ethnic origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health condition, disability and age. Yet the law does not include sexual orientation and gender identity.

How was TİHEK founded?

Laws drafted on the establishment of Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey were examined by GNAT Human Rights Commission on February 2016. CHP and HDP’s demand to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the law was not accepted in a homophobic reaction from AKP. HDP subsequently withdrew from the  commission’s work.

The draft excluding sexual orientation and gender identity based discrimination could have been sent to the lower commission, yet was forwarded to the Assembly to be voted directly after the commission’s review, due to AKP’s persistence. Thus, the detailed examination of the draft by the lower commission was prevented. Neither civil society nor the opposition parties were allowed sufficient time to present their motions.

There were arguments at the commission meetings for the draft prepared by the government, which neglects LGBTI individuals and their demands while banning discrimination based on sexuality, race, color, language, religion, sect, philosophical and political view, ethnic origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health condition, disability and age

50 LGBTI organizations published a joint statement, saying “Do not discriminate against the gays, bisexuals, trans and intersex individuals in the Human Rights and Equality Institution Law!”

Civil society organisations started a petition against the Law Draft on the Human Rights and Equality Institution which excludes human rights platforms from the procedure and discriminates against LGBTI individuals.

Organisations addressed GNAT, stating “We, as the CSOs working for human rights, struggle against discrimination and equality in Turkey, would like to call attention to the fact that there is no possibility for the structure and framework envisioned by the draft to realize the aims and functions indicated in its premises”.

9. SPoD Spring Seminar

SPoD’s annual spring seminar turns 9 this year. The seminar will take place in Istanbul on May 4-5 with the theme “A Scratch on the Mainstream: Our Bodies, Our Emotions, Our Differences and Our Struggle.”*

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As with previous years, we hope to come together at the 9th Spring Seminar to discuss and think about the LGBTI+ movement, queer theory, and the struggle for human rights, as well as to catch up with the global and local agenda.

MAY 4, 2019 SATURDAY

Body, Queer Methodology, and Policies

11:00-12:30

Moderator: Sevcan Tiftik

– Ezgi Kayış: Body Politics and Forms of Struggle

– Süleyman Bölükbaş: Queering “Homonormativity” and Male Homosexuality

– Reyda Ergün: Queer as a Critical Methodology in Politics

Biopolitics, Identity Politics, and Space

Moderator: Mustafa Sarıyılmaz

13:30-15:00

– Özen B. Demir: Two Symptoms of the Cartesian Disease of Medicine: HIV/AIDS and Intersexuality

– Pınar Eldemir: Gender, Space, and Academia: How Aware Are We?

– Mert Koçak: Vulnerabilities Becoming Identities: How LGBTI+ Refugees Are Rendered a “Vulnerable Group” in CSOs in Turkey

Law

15:30-17:00

Moderator: Evra Çetin

– Ali Erdoğan: Wedding White is the New Black

A Queer Critique of the European Convention of Human Rights’ Article 12 Titled “Right to Marry” in the Light of Court Rulings

– Serkan Seyhan: The Protection of Personal Health Data Within the Scope of Law No. 6689

– İsmail Dede: The Rejection of Paternalistic Ideology Over Intersex Children’s Bodies: The Third Gender Category and Its Impact on Gender Assignment Surgeries in the Light of the German Constitutional Court Ruling

MAY 5 2019 SUNDAY

Literature

Moderator: Sevcan Tiftik

  1. Session   13:00 – 15:00

– Bilge Ulusman: Construction of Heteronormativity in Late Ottoman Erotic Literatüre: The Male Subject of the “Sexual Liberation” Narrative

– Ekin Köklü: LGBT Individuals in Turkish Literature and Analysis of Perihan Mağden’s “2 Girls” with Queer Reflections

– Yaprak Damla Yıldırım: Body Politics and Body Poetics: Reflection of the AKP’s Conservative Discourses on Gurlesque Poetry

  1. Session 15:30- 17:00

– Niyazi Zorlu: A Hergele** Chat with Niyazi Zorlu: On “Hergele Âşıklar” and Literature

Reading: Hergele Âşıklar

**Translator’s note: Hergele means a rowdy horse which does not yield. In slang it means someone who is a rascal or a rake.

*The seminar sessions will be held in Turkish. As LGBTI News Turkey, we thought our readers might like to know more about the latest academic discussions and events held in Turkey. You may get in touch with the speakers of the sessions or SPoD if you have any interest in their work.

Remembrance on April 23: Roşin Çiçek

On April 23, Children’s Day, we are remembering LGBTI+ children’s rights: Seven years ago, when he was 17 years old, Roşin Çiçek was killed by his father and uncles for being a “homosexual.”

Source: “Remembrance on April 23: Roşin Çiçek,” (23 Nisan’da hatırlatıyoruz: Roşin Çiçek), kaosgl.org, April 23, 2019, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28118

Today is April 23, Children’s Day. This day was gifted to children, however LGBTI+ children’s right to life is under threat. Roşin Çiçek was a child who was killed by his family for being homosexual.

 

The family attacked human rights advocates during the trial

Seven years ago, when he was 17 years old, his father and uncles killed Roşin Çiçek. Roşin was a homosexual and his family killed him in July 2012. His father claimed that he had shot him “by mistake”, but the autopsy revealed that the shots were adjacent.

His father, Metin Çiçek, was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, and his uncles Mehmet Alican Çiçek and Şeyhmus Çiçek were sentenced to life imprisonment. During the trail on February 10, 2014 the family members attacked advocates of LGBTI+ rights. While the police claimed that it was not possible to maintain security, the court took the advocates out of the courtroom and refused their requests for intervention.

The uncles were sentenced to life imprisonment while the father was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment.

The court refused requests for intervention made by SPoD, LambdaIstanbul LGBTI and parliament member Mahmut Tanal on the grounds that they were not “impacted by the crime”.

Attorney Fırat Söyle stated that the motive for the murder was hate. The family’s attorney on the other hand, accused those who had gathered to demand justice for Roşin Çiçek. The family’s attorney stated the family could not be homophobic because they were “modern and bourgeois”, and claimed that the father and uncles who murdered Roşin were victimized.

Metin Çiçek, his father, confessed to the murder saying “I wanted to scare my child. Should he have been a terrorist? We argued and I shot him.”

In a written statement the same day, Sezgin Tanrıkulu, CHP deputy leader at the time, proclaimed that the Roşin Çiçek case was a hate crime:

“The constitution needs to include the necessary laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual individuals against hate crimes and it is essential for the government to stop turning a deaf ear to these demands. It is unacceptable for people to have their rights violated because of their sexual orientation; and there needs to be a serious transformation in society in order to prevent oppression, attacks and crimes against these individuals. To stop murders such as the Roşin Çiçek murder, the AKP government and all political institutions, non-governmental organizations, and opinion leaders need to do their part. Otherwise, they are conspirators in hate crimes.”

 

The Court of Cassation upheld the decision

In 2017, the Court of Cassation rejected the defendants’ and SpoD’s requests for appeal and upheld the decision. Roşin’s killers will be in prison for life.