Law & Politics

Judicial and political environment in Turkey on LGBTI issues

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.

Alan Savunması: Alışın, kadınlar ve LGBTI+ler sporda!

Son yıllarda kadın ve LGBTI+ girişimleri Türkiye’de sporu boyunduruğu altına alan cinsiyetçi ve heteronormatif şiddeti ortadan kaldırmak için faaliyetlerini arttırdı. Tecavüzcü tezahüratlardan cinsiyetçi manşetlere, spor endüstrisi ve spor haberciliği şiddete bulanmış durumda. Çoğu insan LGBTI+ ve kadın sporcuların gerek profesyonel gerek amatör olarak her spor dalında var olduğunu ve rekabet ettiğini bilmiyor. Alan Savunması LGBTI+ ve kadın sporcuların kazanımları ve olumsuz deneyimlerine odaklanan yeni bir çevrimiçi haber platformu. LGBTI News Turkey’den Zeynep Serinkaya Alan Savunması’ndan Ali Safa Korkut’la bir röportaj yaptı.

 

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Alan Savunması‘nı kurma fikri nasıl ortaya çıktı? Ekibinizi kısaca tanıyabilir miyiz?

Alan Savunması aslında uzun zamandır gerçekleştirmeyi düşündüğümüz bir projeydi. Futbol oynayan birkaç kadın arkadaşımızın bu alandaki çabasına ve maruz kaldıkları eşitsizliklere yakından tanıklık edince buna kayıtsız kalmak istemedik. Keza bu eşitsizlikler sadece bizim tanıdığımız kadınların başına da gelmiyor. Dünya genelinde böyle bir ayrımcılık olmakla beraber bu Türkiye’de biraz daha fazla hissediliyor.

Sporun kadınların mücadele ettiği dallarını ve özellikle de kadın futbolunu biraz yakından takip edince spor yapmaya çalışan LGBTİ+ sporcuların da bir hayli fazla olduğunu yakından gözlemledik. ‘’Spor yapmaya çalışan’’ diyorum çünkü eril tahakküm ve homofobi her alanda egemenlik kurmaya çalışıyor.

Henüz kadın sporcuların maruz kaldıkları karşısında öfkemizi yatıştıramamışken bir de birkaç LGBTİ+ sporcunun spor yaparken yaşadığı taciz, dışlanma ve hatta fiziksel şiddete kadar varan sözlü hakaretleri birinci ağızdan dinleyince bir şeyler yapmak istedik.

İnsanların bu durumlardan haberdar olmadıklarını veya olsalar bile sessiz kaldıklarını düşünerek ilk aşamada bu yaşananları görünür kılmamız gerektiğini düşündük. Mevcut olarak üniversite eğitimimizi sürdüğümüz ve düzenli bir gelirimiz olmadığı için de -en azından şimdilik- minimum gider ve maksimum efor sarf ederek başarıya ulaşabileceğimiz fikirler üzerinde yoğunlaştık.

Bu doğrultuda da hem gazetecilik bölümü öğrencileri olarak yapabileceğimize inandığımız için hem de bu eşitsizlikleri duyurabilmek ve toplumu harekete geçirebilmek adına gerçekten yararlı olacağını düşündüğümüz için yapabileceğimiz en doğru şeyin bir haber sitesi kurmak olduğuna kanaat getirdik.

Şu anlık Alan Savunması’nda sadece iki kişi faaliyet gösteriyoruz. Ben (Ali Safa Korkut), 23 yaşımda ve Uşak Üniversitesi Gazetecilik Bölümü son sınıf öğrencisiyim. Diyarbakır’da yaşıyorum.

Diğer arkadaşım da aynı sınıfta olduğum Özdemir Atuğ. O da benimle aynı yaşta ve Aksaray’da ikamet ediyor.

Ben sitenin editör ve muhabirliğini yapıyorum, Özdemir de sosyal medya yönetimi ve sitenin teknik işleriyle ilgileniyor.

Alan Savunması ekibin sporla arası nedir? İlgilendiğiniz sporlar, oynadığınız takımlar nedir?

İkimiz de sporla oldukça yakından ilgileniyoruz. Dört seneye yakın bir süre boyunca amatör olarak futbol oynamakla beraber basketbol ve yüzme ile de yakından ilgileniyorum. Bunun dışında tenis, voleybol ve atletizm gibi sporları da elimden geldiğince takip etmeye çalışıyorum.

Ekip olarak bu böyle aslında, sadece bilgi sahibi olduğumuz sporları değil tüm spor dallarını takip etmeye çalışıyoruz. Her günümüz sporla geçiyor.

– Türkiye’de son zamanlarda Karşı Lig, Queer Olympix, Kızlar Sahada gibi spor yoluyla toplumsal cinsiyet eşitsizliği ve ayrımcılığa spor yoluyla karşı çıkan inisiyatiflerin sayısı artıyor. Sizce bu tür oluşumların ve bireysel olarak spor alanındaki eşitsizlikleri gidermeye çalışan LGBTI+lerin ve aktivistlerin çalışmaları nasıl desteklenebilir?

Söylediğim gibi, ilk aşamada kadın ve LGBTİ+ sporcuların başarıları ve yaşadıkları olumsuz durumlar ile onların görünürlüğüne katkı sunmayı amaçlayan oluşum ve aktivistleri görünür kılmak gerektiğini düşünüyorum. Çünkü gerçekten özel hayatında sporla yakından ilgilenen ve kadın ve LGBTİ+ sporcuların varlıkları ile mağduriyetlerinden habersiz olan insan hakları aktivistleri var. Ancak bu habersizlikleri de kendilerinden değil, medya kuruluşlarının LGBTİ+ sporcu ve aktivistlere haber akışlarında hiçbir şekilde yer vermemelerinden kaynaklanıyor.

Öncelikli olarak Karşı Lig, Queer Olmypix ve Kızlar Sahada gibi organizasyonlara medyada detaylı bir şekilde yer vererek bu konuda bir duyarlılık/farkındalık yaratılabilir. Burada da alternatif medyaya büyük iş düşüyor. Ana akım medya kuruluşları bir eril tahakküm oluşturmak istediğinden ve farklı yönelimlere sahip bireylere saygı duymadığından, onların varlıklarını reddediyor ve hiçbir şekilde haber akışlarında yer vermiyor. Bu noktada alternatif medyanın devreye girerek haber akışlarında kadın ve LGBTİ+ sporcular ile onların görünürlüğüne katkı sunmayı amaçlayan LGBTİ+ aktivistlere daha fazla yer vermesi gerekiyor.

Sonraki aşamalarda çeşitli spor kulüpleri, sporcular, taraftar grupları vs. gibi etki alanı geniş kesimlerle panel, konferans, sempozyum, vs. gibi etkinlikler düzenlenerek kadın ve LGBTİ+ spor ve sporculara gereken değerin verilmesi sağlanabilir.

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-Spor belki de bedensel ve cinsel normların en çok dayatıldığı ve şiddet ile kendini gösterebildiği bir alan. Sizce sporun toplumsal cinsiyet ve cinsel kimlik temelli ayrımcılıkla ilişkisi nasıl düzeltilebilir?

Ayrımcılık öncelikle dilde başlıyor. Bunun en büyük göstergesi de cinsiyetçi söylemler. Sporda da bu böyle. Baktığımız zaman, spor dalı fark etmeksizin maç öncesinde, esnasında veya sonrasında karşı takım aleyhinde bir şeyler söylemek isteyen taraftarlar, onları aşağılamak için ilk olarak cinsiyetçi söylemlere başvuruyor. Kadın veya LGBTİ+ olmayı aşağılık bir durum olarak gören zihniyet tarafından rakip takıma kadın olmak veya LGBTİ+ birey olmak üzerinden benzetmeler yapılarak çirkin hakaretlerde bulunuluyor.

Bunu kültürümüzdeki ataerkilliğin bir tezahürü olarak gösterebiliriz. Sporu sadece erkeklere ait bir alan olarak görenler tüm erillikleriyle tribünlerde de yer alıyor ve maç boyu nefret söylemi ve cinsiyetçi söylemlerle dolu marş ve pankartlarını sergiliyor.

Bu sebeple cinsiyetçiliği öncelikle dilde bitirmemiz gerektiğini düşünüyorum. Kullandığımız dili cinsiyetçi söylemelerden arındırabilirsek sadece sporda değil yaşamın her alanında cinsiyet ayrımcılığını ortadan kaldırabiliriz.

– Heteronormativiteyle ve cinsiyetçilikle mücadele ederken, bir yandan da sporun endüstrileşmiş ve rekabete odaklanan halini dönüştürmesi mümkün müdür? İyi ve olumlu örneklerin haberlerini okumanın buna nasıl bir etkisi olabilir sizce?

Tüm hücreleriyle endüstrileşmiş ve sermayedarlara hizmet eder hale gelmiş olan sporun, uzun vadede yeniden halk yönünde tavır alan bir etkinlik haline gelebileceğini maalesef ki sanmıyorum. Ancak bu endüstrileşme, içinde bulunduğumuz süreçte -kendi çıkarları için de olsa- sporda cinsiyet temelli ayrımcılığa karşı olumlu bir katkıda bulunuyor.

Nike, Adidas, Puma vs. gibi önde gelen spor giysi üreticileri, reklamlarında kadın ve LGBTİ+ sporculara sıkça yer veriyor. Bu reklamların yegane amacının cinsiyet temelli ayrımcılığa karşı bir duruş sergilemek olduğu iddia edilse de bunun pek de öyle olduğunu düşünmüyorum. Spordaki endüstrileşmenin bir parçası olarak, ilgili markaların bu reklamlarla asıl amaçladıkları şeyin ürünlerine yeni pazarlar oluşturmak ve müşteri kitlelerini geliştirmek olduğu herkesçe bilinen bir gerçek.

Böylelikle her ne kadar kendi çıkarları doğrultusunda hareket etmiş olsalar da cinsiyet temelli ayrımcılığa karşı verilen mücadeleye de katkı sunmuş oluyorlar.

İyi ve olumlu haberlerin örneklerini okumak başta medyada olmak üzere toplumda da olumlu bir algı oluşturabilir.

Alan Savunması‘ndaki haber ve makaleleri okuyup “ben de yazarım” diyenler olabilir. Aranıza katılmak ya da size yazı göndermek isteyenlere neler söylemek istersiniz? LGBTI+ spor haberciliğinin önemi sizce nedir?

Gazeteci, yazar, akademisyen, iletişim fakültesi öğrencileri vs. gibi toplumun her kesiminden insan haber ve/veya düşünce yazılarını bizlere gönderebilir. Alan Savunması onlardan gelecek katkılara açıktır. Sporun herhangi bir dalı ile ilgili kaleme aldıkları, odak noktasında kadın veya LGBTİ+ sporcular olan her türlü haber ve yazıya Alan Savunması’nda yer verebileceğimizin bilinmesini isteriz. Kadın ve LGBTİ+ sporcuların görünürlüğüne katkı sunacak her türlü içeriğe Alan Savunması’na yer verebiliriz.

LGBTİ+ spor haberciliği, özellikle heteronormativiteye ve spordaki cinsiyet temelli ayrımcılığa karşı büyük önem arz ediyor. Amatör veya profesyonel olarak sporculuk yapan çok sayıda LGBTİ+’nın başarılarının veya maruz kaldıkları ayrımcılıkların medya aracılığıyla duyurulması yalnız toplumun algısını değil medyanın algısını da olumlu yönde etkileyecektir.

Buna örnek olarak, Alan Savunması’nı gösterebilirim. Yayım hayatımıza başladıktan sonra özellikle alternatif medyada LGBTİ+ sporculara yönelik haberlerde bir artış gözlemleyebiliyoruz.

– Okuyucularımıza söylemek istediğiniz başka bir şey var mı? Yazı ve makale dışında sizi nasıl destekleyebilirler?

Okuyucularımıza kadın veya LGBTİ+ bireylerin haklarını savunabilmek için illa LGBTİ+ olmak gerekmediğini söyleyebilirim. Bunun en büyük örneği de bizleriz. Ben ve Alan Savunması’nda faaliyet gösteren diğer arkadaşım LGBTİ+ bireyler değiliz. Ancak, kendimizden olmayan insanların da hakkını savunabilmeyi, ortadaki adaletsizliklere bir ses çıkarmayı birer insanlık vazifesi olarak görüyoruz. Lütfen onlar da öyle görsünler.

İleride nasıl olur bilmem ama şu an için herhangi bir maddi desteğe ihtiyacımız yok ancak destek sunmak isterlerse de hayır demeyiz 🙂 Şimdilik sosyal medya hesaplarımızdan bizleri desteklemeleri ve daha fazla insana sesimizi duyurmamıza yardımcı olmaları yeterli.

Daha fazlası için Alan Savunmasının sitesini ziyaret edebilirsiniz.

Röportaj: Zeynep Serinkaya

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.

 

Book Review: Stories Under the Rainbow – Compiled real life stories from the families of LGBTI+ individuals

Stories Under the Rainbow (Gökkuşagından Hikayeler) is a book about love and family. This powerful collection of twenty-nine stories is a candid celebration of families connecting and reconnecting with, understanding and supporting their LGBTI+ child. Each story, told by a parent, reveals the many aspects in which the cultural upbringing and societal pressures of heteronormativity create unexamined and limiting belief systems that configure the world of parents for most of their lives. These long-standing belief systems, however, unexpectedly fall to pieces when their child comes out to them as LGBTI+. In these narratives, we read how many of the parents experience similar feelings that impart sadness, worry, incomprehension and indignation in reaction to a reality that at first challenges them. The challenges bring changes that alter their modes of living in positive ways. They come to realize, as they are forced to reexamine their convictions, that what they held to be true can be challenged to show other possibilities or acknowledge what is fundamentally flawed. When families find new ways to reconnect with one another, they begin to explore what it means to fully embrace, support and love their child for who they are. We read how beautifully their worlds expand in their reflections on their fears and struggles to dismantle learned homophobia and transphobia.

These narratives are also a meditation on how much our worlds and thinking are shaped by society. Many parents recount similar sentiments on how little they knew about other lives, how it was impossible for them to imagine the lives of LGBTI+ people or the fact that they even existed due to their own lack of knowledge, fear or merely holding onto misconceptions based on what they had heard from others. A parent puts it, “In this society, there are actually a lot of people who hide and suppress who they are and who do not express themselves for fear of judgement because this society is not a tolerant one.”

At first focused on denial and worry, the narratives evolve to celebrate love and life. “This process allowed me to understand and get to know all the other marginalized groups in society and learn more about the experiences of disabled people, Roma, Aleviis, Kurds and women” reflects one parent on how much their world view has expanded and adds, “I see now that the biggest hurdle in front of us is the world’s biggest terror organization. This organization, is not an armed terror organization. It is everyone.”

As someone who has come out to their parents as a trans man, it was hard to withhold tears reading about some of the coming out dialogues between the families and how time, love, and support restored many broken pieces and uprooted the barriers to understanding one another. Equally moving was the parents’ profoundly transformative journey from one of loss, confusion, and blame to one of joy, strength, and empowerment. Fully supporting their LGBTI+ child, they stand up to their neighbors, to school counselors, teachers, or their own friends, demonstrating how by becoming their child’s best ally, they are paving the way for other families to do the same.

This is a very intimate book that reminds us how much we need to hear the stories of people that are othered and marginalized in order to fight against discrimination and harmful narrow constraints of existing and living in this world. These stories inspire and ignite a powerful celebration of life in all its spectrum of colors.

Review by Lukka Alp Akarçay for LGBTI News Turkey

Not Your Turkish Delight! A compilation against hate and violence

“Not Your Turkish Delight!” exclaims the title of a compilation of tracks from independent artists of alternative music scene of Turkey. The compilation aims to bring together queer, LGBTI+ and female artists to stand against sexual violence and discrimination. Its revenues will be donated to two shelters “Transevi” in Istanbul and “Yaşamevi” in Urfa.The group of artists who made the compilation happen, plan to continue to show solidarity against the sexism, transphobia, homophobia and misogyny which have intensified in Turkey due to growing impunity of hate crime. The first 300 copies of the compilation have been on sale in live concerts and are now sold out. LGBTI News Turkey interviewed Hatice (Soft Rains of April) and Aybike (Reptilians from Andromeda) to learn more about the creation process as well as future plans. The crew is currently looking for ways to distribute the compilation abroad, to extend the solidarity globally. We are excited to see such creative and efficient ways of mobilizing solidarity against hatred and violence and hope to see sequels to this compilation as well as live performances! If you would like to help the group reach a bigger audience abroad and generate more revenues for donations, please do not hesitate to contact them through their facebook page. You can listen to Felix Drake’s interview with some of the crew members and listen to some of the songs in this episode of “Turkish Delights”, aired on Noods Radio.
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– How was the production process with the artists who supported the album with their tracks? How did you choose the tracks, were there any that were recorded exclusively for this album?

 

Aybike: The band “The Hollow Dolly” was born out of this compilation, Neon Jisatsu published their first songs in this compilation. Jtamul, Bewitched As Dark, Soft Rains Of April, Reptilians From Andromeda and Cansu Turgut’s songs were recorded for this compilation but as the other bands chose their own tracks for the compilation, I can say that they were meant to be in this compilation regardless of when they were written.

Hatice: The entire album was exciting but the tracks made for this album were as exciting as the ones submitted for the compilation. After Aybike got in touch with the musicians, she passed the tracks to me and I made a tracklist based on the tone, flow and the mood. I’m hoping the friends who submitted the songs and the listeners are happy with this order.  It was a very exciting experience for me to take place in this compilation and its construction.

– How did you come up with the idea for this compilation?

Aybike: Most of us know each other or are friends, both the compilers and the artists in the compilation. The idea for a compilation was growing in us for a while, based on the relationship we formed through sharing the negative things that happened to us or that we heard in our common spaces. It came about naturally.

Hatice: As every individual who tries to live and produce in this society, you come to the point of saying “Enough” rather easily, as you get smashed each time you take the road less traveled. The need to do something, the rage bottled up within and the cry for justice somehow directs you to a path. It is imperative that we continue to do what we know best, in order to beat back what we live through and what we witness. What we know best is music… It is our equipment, our shield, our battle axe,  and our healing power too.

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– How do you see the approach towards the issues and identities of women and LGBTI+ individuals in the independent music scene?

Aybike: Although the independent music scene looks like a community of listeners and performers standing aside gender norms, there is of course a gender inequality; because even though people act like they are against it, you can still hear them talk behind you, saying “Is this a girl or a boy?”, “Look at that”, “Tsk tsk tsk”, “I thought this one was gacıvari*”. Their faces, actions and behaviours remind you that all these labels attached to us in young age.

There are those who are indeed sincere about their intention to change gender inequality related problems and there are those who live as if these values [of being anti-discrimination] do not exist and they play the game of political correctness to avoid being mob lynched and looking bad when the women, trans individuals and queers raise their voices around the world. I can say that the discussion of these issues have increased over the last year. Both the bands and the music collectives are trying to do something.

Hatice: Aybike is quite right. For a long while there have been many collectives, initiatives, crews and people trying to be sensitive about these issues in the music sector. However, I still hope you can hear what non-male roadies, sound engineers, field managers and backstage attendants have gone through. Degendering of the sector is crucial, and in my opinion it is getting better too, thanks to the labourers of the music sector and musicians. But it is important to unite and form a sustainable, determined, unmonopolized, evolving and multiplying stance at this point. As it is hard to talk about a literally independent music world, we often witness that people look the other way just because it’s their friend, show nepotism and act like nothing happened or they even blame the victim. We can start changing things by calling things what they are.

–  Due to the current political climate, we often fall into a pit of pessimism. Beautiful collaborations such as this compilation gives us hope. How do you battle against pessimism or how do you transform it?

Aybike: You can struggle against it by not falling for the manipulation that tries to convince you that you are alone and by not being afraid…

Hatice: This is precisely how we battle against it, by standing together. Things haven’t turned sour recently, the state has always been cruel in this country, life has always been hard. The monster has always been there, even if it has taken the guise of deceitful conservatism over the last 15 years. The way to struggle against it is to accept that this is not new nor transient and to continue to be productive. It is not so difficult, it is just an idea, 4-5 people and 20 valuable musicians who will share their music with us and 4 people to burn the CDs in one evening and then onwards to distributing them… 300 CDs were sold out in just 3 months, all of the revenues went straight to the associations. Now we are trying to render this sustainable and continue to work.

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– How did you cover the cost of the album?

Aybike: Hatice, Bikem, Oya, me, Petek and Aydan split the cost among ourselves.

Hatice: We are of course trying to figure out how we can make it financially sustainable for future albums, concerts, panels and projects. None of us have infinite resources, we merely took initiative but for the future it is crucial that we maintain continuity, we don’t want it to remain a one-time thing.

– The revenues will go to Transevi and Yaşamevi, how are the sales going? Can our foreign readers support you? Would you consider selling the album on a digital platform?

Hatice: 300 copies of the first compilation are almost sold out, around 10 copies have left. We are having difficulty with payment from foreign countries due to PayPal** but we are currently looking for a solution. When we come up with a solution, we will immediately make 300 more copies, and plan for a new compilation, merch and new projects which will be accessible abroad.

How is the feedback? Would you consider to do similar projects?

Hatice: The sustainability of this project is crucial. We decided to support Transevi and Yaşamevi for the first 300 copies, we dream of increasing the number of centers we support in the future. Not your Turkish Delight must develop in different genres too, it must grow, evolve, transform and continue. This is our greatest dream.  

What can you tell our readers about being woman, queer or trans in the independent music scene in Turkey?

Hatice: It’s not so different from being a woman, queer or trans in the street, at home, school or workplace. The problems are always similar because the culprit is the same. Patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and sexism reigns all domains of our life, especially the legal system.  I could say things are bit rougher in the music scene but actually all types of violence is rough. We tried to do this through music as our first step, but of course we also plan to organize panels, workshops and events where we can talk about the discrimination and violence within the music sector.  In every field, we should start with ourselves and accept that there is a problem, and start from the people around us in trying to correct the wrong attitudes, discourses and practices, it is important to have a determined stance and continue producing in such manner. We can think more about “how”.

– Our last question is for you to give some inspiration. Some of our readers might have similar projects in mind, what would you recommend for them?

Hatice: Please realize your projects, it is precious to contribute from different branches. They can get in touch with collectives and crews like us, unfortunately there are not so many options for pinpointing a problem and moving towards a solution. It is more than enough if we can co-create, get in touch with each other and continue our journey together, each starting with one step and continuing without giving up or stopping when faced with barriers. One of our dreams is to establish a network which brings together many projects, therefore we progress by making use of the experiences and directions our friends share with us. I recommend the readers to talk, to question, there are so many people who want to do something, we are always here to support and we would love to.  

 

*Translator’s Note: gacıvari means feminine in lubunca, the queer slang in Turkish.

**Translator’s Note: PayPal does not operate in Turkey as their license was denied by BDDK, the local authority on banking and finance, in 2016.

 

European Parliament Candidate Niyazi Kızılyürek signed LGBTI + Friendly Candidate Pledge

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Queer Cyprus Association has published the press release below [May 25] on Niyazi Kızılyürek signing the LGBTI+ Friendly Pledge, since then Kızılyürek has won a seat at the European Parliament:

The 2019 European Parliament elections come in an increasingly polarized social and political climate. The very core values and standards upon which the EU was founded – respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law – are being called into question and human rights, in particular, the human rights of LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, and Plus) people, are facing a forceful challenge.

Queer Cyprus Association called on European Parliament Candidates to sign LGBTI + Friendly Candidate Pledge in Mid-April for the upcoming European Parliament election. LGBTI + Friendly Candidate Pledge was today signed by `Niyazi Kızılyürek (AKEL)’ as well.

Queer Cyprus Association (QCA), under ILGA Europe, carried out a campaign asking candidates to pledge to stand up for the human rights and equality for all LGBTI+ people in the European Union and beyond and will do so by working to:

  1. Strengthen protection in EU law and policy,
  2. Ensure an enabling environment for LGBTI+ human rights defenders,
  3. Be an ally to underrepresented voices,
  4. Ensure EU leadership on LGBTI+ rights, and
  5. Harnessing the power of their position to advance the human rights of LGBTI+ people.