Hate Speech & Anti-LGBTI Media

Turkish media and similar sources with anti-LGBTI, homophobic propaganda

Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association’s Statement on December 17, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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“Sex workers living in Turkey continue to have their rights violated.Sex workers are a target of multiple discrimination due to the intersection of their work and gender identity. Othering, stigmatization, marginalization and the violence and discrimination that come about with these attitudes prevent sex workers from leading a life as equal citizens. Added to rights violations, are poverty, patriarchy, heterosexism, whorephobia and similar factors. As such, sex workers become the primary target of “hate operations” supported by the state and social rage.

There are many studies which demonstrate the degree of discrimination and hate against sex workers. The fact stated by all of these studies is that sex workers living in Turkey are in constant threat from hate motivated criminal acts. Hate speech and hate crimes against sex workers are isolating them in all realms of life and push them into a vicious cycle which takes away their right to live.

Law enforcers target sex workers due to the legislation and practices that “regulate” sex work which in turn pushes them into working in insecure areas, being victims of organized crime and poverty. Sex workers are forced to work amidst all sorts of insecurity while also being deprived of access to justice. Violence and discrimination motivated by hate, target sex workers on a daily basis and marginalize them. Marginalization brings suicides and murders.

With love and respect, we commemorate every sex worker whose voice was unheard, who had to struggle against all kinds of violence and who were taken from us by murderers.

VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/KirmiziSemsiyeCinselSaglikVeInsanHaklariDernegi/photos/a.144136365792174/924137507792052/?type=3&theater

December 1 World AIDS Day Events in Turkey

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The LGBTI+ Community in Turkey marks World AIDS Day 2018 with engaging activities . Despite the restraining political environment in Turkey, LGBTI+ activism has been growing stronger and one field where it has consolidated its efforts is in raising awareness on testing for HIV and focus on the lives of HIV+ individuals. In this article, we introduce organizations working for HIV awareness and events that will mark the day this year.

 

Pozitifiz (We are Positive) is a non-governmental organization that approaches the HIV issue from a human rights perspective, seeking to increase access to better healthcare for HIV+ individuals and abolish prejudices against them and their families to provide better living conditions. Most of the founders are HIV+ individuals who have been active in the field for many years.

 

Red Ribbon Istanbul is another civil society organization which strives to expand the channels of information for HIV awareness. They aim to “communicate scientifically-grounded HIV-related information to all parts of society, using clear and easy-to-understand language.”  Red Ribbon Istanbul also works to foster collaboration of private sector, civil society and state actors in order to increase opportunities for safe and anonymous testing, diagnosis and treatment.

 

Red Ribbon Istanbul and Pozitifiz joined forces for their #hivcokdegisti campaign, which says “HIV has changed, have we?”. The campaign circulates statements aiming to rid the public sphere from prejudices about HIV+ individuals and HIV+ living, reminding all of us that “HIV is not only a matter for those who live with HIV, but also for everybody else”. You can read their joint statement for World AIDS Day 2018 on this link.

 

This year, Pozitifiz also participated in the meeting for GSK (GlaxoSmithKline)’s World AIDS Day 2018 Campaign , titled “Kendin İçin 1 Aralık” (December 1 For Yourself) which introduces the stories of HIV+ individuals through their own narratives, inviting everyone to share their own support messages with the #dokun (#touch) hashtag, in an effort to overcome the barriers of fear and prejudice. The campaign also urges everyone to get an HIV test and to learn more about AIDS.

 

Hevi LGBTI Association and Boysan’ın Evi (Boysan’s House) marks the day with a panel titled “HIV/AIDS and Isolation on the basis of gender: Women Tell Their Stories”. The panel is to take place on December 2, 17:00-19:00 at Boysan’s House with the participation of panelists Çiğdem Şimşek and Müzeyyen Araç. Hevi LGBTI has also published multilingual pamhplets and is organizing two more panels on December 1, titled “HIV through Letters” and “AIDS in Turkey- Recent Medical Methods and Studies”.

 

Dramaqueer Art Collective which has recently opened its art base in Tarlabaşı will host a talk titled “M.Paniği” (“M. Panic”) on the first known and sensationalized AIDS case in Turkey. Murteza Elgin, a successful vocalist and manager, became the target of a media circus, finding out about his own HIV+ condition through the very news that stigmatized him. Serdar Soydan will introduce M’s story and the struggle against fear and prejudice in this talk.

 

On World AIDS Day 2018 there will also be an exhibition opening at Operation Room at American Hospital, titled “Positive Space”. The exhibition invitation states that it “opens discussions about themes, directly related to HIV/AIDS, such as visibility and stigma, victimhood and guilt, pleasure and disease as well as subjective bodies recording, separating, accepting and rejecting, infecting and spreading in opposition to ideological and medical bodies. Even though the exhibition affirms ‘positivity,’ it reserves the right to see AIDS as a metaphor. The unrepressed HIV does not destroy the cell, it attacks and emaciates it, just like masculine domination or bio-power practices do. “Positive Space” looks for new contamination technologies against these practices.” Read more about it in this link.

 

To make the World AIDS Day more visible, Kaos GL and Pozitifiz Association has published ads on two dailies (Evrensel and Birgün) with Aslı Alpar’s illustrations with the title “End Stigmatization and Discrimination”.

 

Kaos GL’s Social Services Studies Group has published a statement on World AIDS Day 2018 drawing attention to the discrimination HIV+ individuals face. Here is the statement:

 

“We are disappointed to see that discourses on December 1 World AIDS Day solely focus on the increase in the number of individuals living with HIV. We believe that it is not possible to ignore the discrimination that people living with HIV experience in many realms of life. This discrimination not only affects the psychosocial wellbeing of people living with HIV negatively, but also prevents people living with HIV from accessing social services efficiently. People living with HIV have equal rights with everyone else, from the right to healthcare to the right to work, from the right to education to the right to accomodation.

 

As the Kaos GL Social Services Studies Group we fight for the people with HIV’s access to their rights and we will continue our fight. We are conscious of the responsibility and duty that social services experts and other professionals working in the field of psychological healthcare bear.

 

HIV can be controlled. What matters is that hatred, discrimination and pressure against people living with HIV is controlled.

 

Happy December 1 World AIDS Day!”

 

Illustration: Aslı Alpar

 

LGBTI individuals in German and Turkish tabloid press: Queer Invisibilities

The book Queer Invisibilities investigates LGBTI representation in the Turkish Hurriyet and German Bild newspapers. Yener Bayramoglu’s study brings a fresh perspective to queer historiography/history writing and archiving.

Source: “Almanya ve Türkiye bulvar basınında LGBTİ’ler: Kuir Görünmezlikler,” Kaos GL, 9 May 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25774

The book titled Queere (Un-)Sichtbarkeiten (Queer Invisibilities), analyzes LGBTI representation in Hurriyet and Bild newspapers has been published with the help of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. The study by Yener Bayramoglu, a researcher living in Berlin, investigated LGBTI and queer representation in German and Turkish media. The book has been published in German. A Turkish translation is unavailable as of yet.

“As is the case in many areas, queer historiography also takes its foundation in the experiences of white males. The historic processes that closely affect Western white gay males are granted universality. In this framework, in almost all corners of the world, all queer subcultures are assumed to pass through similar historic milestones.”

Introduction to the Book

Tabloids under scrutiny

Queer Invisibilities proposes an alternative historiography. It takes at its center events that are rendered invisible in typical history writing. It uses tabloids as a basis, which are generally left out of queer theory.

Rather than ignoring the misrepresentations, invisibilities, and hate speech in tabloids, Queer Invisibilities proposes accepting these as a part of queer history. The book argues that history writing cannot be solely based on stories of heroism, success, progress, and advancement. Especially on the subject of queer history, it shows that the archives are largely full of sad, shameful, and wrong representations.

What does tabloid journalism do?

Another thesis put forward by Queer Invisibilities is that the tabloid press, in trying to scandalize queer individuals, in fact paves the way for the queerification of mainstream culture. Actually, it is thanks to tabloid journalism that queer representations, which did not exist in mainstream culture before, become a part of it. [The tabloids’] queer representations, which were wrought to scandalize, marginalize, and hide, were granted more visibility in the process.

Comparing Turkey and Germany

Another novel idea presented to queer theory by the book is the comparison between Turkish  and German print news. Due to the comparative analysis between the Hurriyet and Bild newspapers’ representations, different milestones, different stories, and different temporalities are made visible. This shows that a single, universal LGBT history cannot exist. In this respect, Queer Invisibilities puts forward the idea that the typical West – East opposition loses its meaning.

According to this study, while the Hurriyet archive is full of various rich queer representations, the German Bild newspaper is generally full of misrepresentations, deformed voices, and significant historic gaps arising from queer invisibility.

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.

Social Service Specialists to Nihat Hatipoglu: “The Expert Opinion” You Provided is Wrong!

When asked for his opinion by a viewer who said  “I was born a woman; I feel like I’m a man”, theologian Hatipoğlu responded: “You have to control your will.” Social service specialists demanded that theologian Hatipoglu correct his statement following the incident.

Source:  “Social service specialists to Nihat Hatipoglu: ‘the expert opinion’ you provided is wrong!” (Sosyal Hizmet Uzmanlarından Nihat Hatipoğlu’na: Verdiğin “Uzman” Bilgisi Yanlış), bianet, May, 24,2018, https://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/197474-sosyal-hizmet-uzmanlarindan-nihat-hatipoglu-na-verdigin-uzman-bilgisi-yanlis

Social service specialists published a statement, asking the theology professor Nihat Hatipoglu to correct his mistake conflating sexual identity with sexual orientation.

Hatipoglu was in a live broadcast in Sultanahmet Square for a Ramadan program while he was answering peoples’ questions, one asked: “I was born a woman but I feel myself a man and I like women.”

Hatipoglu replied: “You’re a woman, you were born a woman. This is a test for you and you have to struggle with it. It’s not your desire, but your belief and your mind you must surrender to.”

The Association of Social Service Specialists (SHU-Der) branches in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Diyarbakir, together with Kaos GL and Genc LGBTI+’s Social Services Studies Groups made a joint declaration and have asked Hatipoglu to amend his statement.

The social service specialists said: “The responsibilities of specialists must be recognized, while the ones who have these responsibilities must leave behind their biases/prejudices. We want Nihat Hatipoglu to correct the statement he has made; reminding him that his ‘expert’ opinions were wrong, he should ask for the expertise of psychologists who are working with LGBTI individuals as well as social service specialists.”

The press statement follows below:

“We all know that in 1990 on 17th of May, homosexuality was declassified from the list of International Classification of Diseases by the World Health Organization.

Because of society’s heteronormative perspective on LGBTI individuals’ sexual identity and sexual orientation, they are facing many problems such as being rejected, misunderstood, repressed, censored, as well as the violation of their fundamental rights.

Lecturer Doc. Koray Basar from Hacettepe University stated on Kaos GL website: “such prejudices from doctors or theologians disguised as ‘expert opinions’ will only turn the lives of the people and their loved ones to hell. Experts have to know their responsibilities and should not let the prejudices take over their responsibilities.”

“As a result of hate crimes, LGBTI individuals are deprived of their most fundamental rights, the right to live and and as such they face difficulties in accessing social services, employment, education, accommodation and healthcare. Problems LGBTI individuals experience in these domains render them potential recipients of social services and psychological counseling.”

“Human rights and social justice are the basis of social service work. Within this framework, based on human rights, the fight against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, skin colour, gender, sexual identity and sexual orientation, marital status, political opinion, religious belief and mental or physical disability; is one of the responsibilities of this job. Therefore, we demand that Nihat Hatipoglu correct the statement he has made; and we remind him that his “expert” opinions were wrong. Hatipoglu should ask for the opinion of psychologists and other social service specialists who working with LGBTI individuals.”

“In spite of the limited capacity of public services due to a lack of policies, we want to remind that social service specialists and psychologists are here to assist all LGBTI individuals to protect their rights, to provide the psychosocial support they need until a better model is developed to protect against discrimination.”

Evrensel: Mican’s threats and hate speech is considered freedom of speech

The Istanbul Chair of the Alperen Hearths Foundation, Kürşat Mican’s threats and hate speech against LGBTI Pride Walk was evaluated and ruled to be within the scope of freedom of speech by a state prosecutor’s investigation. Despite the fact that Mican is not a journalist, the prosecutor emphasized the ‘freedom of press’ in his verdict.

Source: Cansu Pişkin, “Mican’ın tehditleri, nefret söylemi ifade özgürlüğü sayıldı!”, Evrensel, February 10, 2018, https://www.evrensel.net/haber/345211/micanin-tehditleri-nefret-soylemi-ifade-ozgurlugu-sayildi

A criminal complaint had been filed against Kürşat Mican, who used threats and hate speech bearing statements during a television programme on KRT. The statements were directed towards the LGBTI Pride Walk planned to take place on June 25 last year. Lawyers Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin filed a complaint to the Istanbul Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor, stating that Mican was inciting the public to hatred and animosity, using threats and insults. Mican had threatened the Pride Walk with the following statements: “These people plan to build a structure in every neighborhood. We warn our Intelligence Agencies. This is a project of the capitalist, communist, imperialist powers. They aim to spread homosexuality, to destroy the unity of family, to stop procreation, to end the husband-wife relationship and to prevent the growth of a generation which is a result of said relationship and which would do good for this nation. This dynamite is planted at the foundation of the structure of the family. Young people are getting inclined towards this direction. They especially went down to working at the level of neighborhoods. We will not allow this, whatever the cost may be. I’m addressing the Turkish nation, these are very dangerous structures. We need to prevent this immorality, this will spread otherwise. If the state allows this, we won’t. Where ever they will walk, we will go and block that region, that avenue, they won’t be able come there anyway. We will not let them walk. We can find 200 thousand people if need be.”

The statements were interpreted as within the legal parameters of press freedom.

Public Prosecutor Ersoy Altıntaş from the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor Press Crimes Inquiry Bureau evaluated the criminal complaint and found the statements to be within the scope of freedom of speech. Rather than focus on Mican’s words, Altıntaş frequently emphasized ‘press freedom’ in his verdict and on the medium of the statements, the TV channel, and the program–even though Mican is not a journalist. Altıntaş stated: “If a journalist is sentenced for helping disseminate another person’s words, this will create a serious obstacle against the contribution of the press in public debate. Thus, this should not be the path to take unless there are valid reasons to do so. To set the condition for the journalists to systematically refrain from statements which can hurt, incite, or defame others does not comply with the role of the press to inform the public on current affairs, opinions and notions.”

Prosecutor Altıntaş also suggested “freedom of speech is among the most fundamental rights in a democratic society” and stated “according to the regulation in the law, there needs to be a concrete danger in order to have an element of crime. The news article in this case does not create such a concrete danger; therefore, as in the incident for which the complaint is filed, the legal elements for the alleged crimes are not existent. As a result of the investigation carried out by our Office of Chief Public Prosecutor, it was understood from the documents pertaining to investigation that the alleged crimes had not come into existence”. The case is at the moment deemed as nolle prosequi. Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin have stated their intention to file an appeal to this verdict.

Kaos GL: When the perpetrator is trans, the media is ready to lynch

Newspapers use wording that triggers transphobic hate and prejudice while covering an incident in Samsun, involving a group of men and a person who is stated to be transgender.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Fail trans olunca medya attı tuttu bir asmadığı kaldı!”, Kaos GL, December 15, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25094

“Youngster attacked by a transvestite with razor barely survives”, “Tran-slash-tite”, “Slasher transvestite now roams free”, “Transvestite terror”…These headlines today are from the coverage of the incident in Samsun which involves a group of men and a person who is stated to be a transgender individual.

Transphobia starts with headlines

The newspapers have interpreted the incident through a transphobic lens starting with the headlines. Local newspapers in Samsun, Vitrin Haber, Gazete Arena and Korkusuz preferred to use the headline “Youngster attacked by a transvestite with razor barely survives”. Takvim used a completely transphobic headline “Tran-slash-tite” while Milliyet wrote “Transvestite who assaulted an 18 year old in the middle of the street in Samsun was caught”. Şok made its own mis-en-scene and wrote “Transvestite bully was caught and restrained” and Haber Samsun chose to go classical with the headline “Transvestite terror”.

It was only Altınova daily which did not state the gender identity of the perpetrator on the headline and wrote “Knife attack in Samsun”. The same newspaper also stated that the incident happened “due to reasons yet unknown”.

‘Only a stare’?

All but one daily preferred to report the incident with phrases such as “while [the assaulted] was walking on the street”, “while [the assaulted] was walking home from work”, “the youngster who was beaten up in the middle of the street” and continued: “18 year old youngster was attacked by a person who is yet unidentified but known to be a transvestite with a knife, after [he] stared [at the assailant]”.

The statement that the person who is reported to be transgender attacked the person mentioned after ‘ a stare’ is highly concerning. Because the hate attacks targeting LGBTI individuals are often serviced in media as ‘merely a fight’, ‘merely a stare’. It is a partial approach to reporting to ignore the transphobia existing in society and to report the incident as resulting from a mere ‘stare’ between a group of men and a person stated to be transgender.

Transphobia at every opportunity

Ignoring the disadvantages of the group identity of the perpetrator or the victim of the incident might omit the fact that prejudice may have triggered the incident. Moreover, the newspapers foster the prejudice by highlighting the gender identity of the perpetrator and stigmatize all trans individuals as ‘crime machines’.

These news articles, at every opportunity, express hatred against trans individuals who are never covered in the news aside from violent incidents. Similarly, these stories are not written to inform the reader about the incident but to cater to transphobic hate.

Might the prejudice have triggered the incident?

Kaos GL Association’s report entitled “The prosecution of hate crimes” stresses that many hate crimes are reflected as “merely a fight”:

“Many hate crimes take place during incidents which have other triggers such as ‘traffic fights’, arguments about boundaries between neighboring property or arguments about noise. These motives might turn into crimes motivated by racism and other prejudices as the incident unravels.”

Released on judicial control

The news outlets indicate that the transgender perpetrator was caught, gave testimony at the prosecutor’s office, and was released on judicial control condition. A local daily, Hedef Halk, reported the development as “Slasher transvestite now roams free”.