Law & Politics

Judicial and political environment in Turkey on LGBTI issues

Pembe Hayat is going to broadcast live every day at 19:00!

Pembe Hayat Association activists are going to broadcast live on various topics every day at 19:00 in order to bring together LGBTI+s who are at home during these Corona-infested days! Today (March 18), in the first broadcast, Derin Akıllı is going to talk about her experiences during the transitioning process!

Source: “Pembe Hayat is going to broadcast live every day at 19:00!” Pembe Hayat, 18th of March, 2020 http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler/detay/2331/pembe-hayat-her-gun-1900rsquoda-canli-yayinda

The activists of the association, who are going to broadcast live every day at 19:00 in order to reach LGBTI+s who are at home in these days of quarantine due to the Coronavirus and to enable LGBTI +s to support each other, are going to chat with Pembe Hayat’s followers to talk about many topics from hilarity to transitioning.

Derin Akıllı, who is going to be live in the first interactive broadcast, is going to talk about her experiences during the transitioning process.

 Do not forget to visit the Instagram account of Pembe Hayat at 19:00 every day!

Bitopya: Another universe is possible for the bi+ people!

Bitopya is a new platform founded by Umut Erdem. Umut has been writing about monosexism, normativity and bisexuality in contributions to the bi+, vegan and feminist struggles. In this interview, we walk together on the path to Bitopya (bitopia): The invisibility of bi+ existence, the pressing necessity for accesible and correct information on bisexuality in order to get rid of the stereotypes that reign over both the LGBTI+ movement and the heteronormative society , different layers of rescuing sexuality from the hegemony of norms…these are all the stations we will stop by. As LGBTI News Turkey we are excited to follow Bitopya in its journey and would like to thank Umut for taking their time for this interview!

First of all, we would like to get to know you and the crew.

My name is umut erdem (they/them). I’m the founder of Bitopya ☺. I have been actively pursuing bi+politics for a long while. I have been producing content on this subject and in 2019 I became one of the organizers of Bi+ Pride İstanbul which was the first of its kind to take place in Istanbul. We realized the Bi+ Pride together with dear Zeynab Peyghamberzadeh, another bi+ activist. I also organized a Bi+ Visibility Workshop during Pride Week in İzmir last year. In 2018, I prepared a Bi+ pamphlet together with Gözde Demirbilek, under Kaos GL’s roof.

 I live in Istanbul, I earn my living working in a private institution. I am a feminist and a vegan, I also do activism in these fields. Bitopya itself is a field of activism for me. The website was realized thanks to transfeminist activist Ecemen who helped me build the site. Ecemen had also created the website lgbtisagligi.org. This gave us the opportunity to work together. For now, I’m translating the texts about bi+ politics and bi+ healthcare, the ones which I read before and thought “these must definitely be translated to Turkish”. Yet I also need other pairs of eyes to check the translations and to contribute. I can’t really call it a crew but there are definitely collaborations. My friends with whom I exchange ideas and talk about bisexuality and bi+ politics have an important role in the creation of Bitopya.

Umut, your name will definitely ring a bell for our readers from Turkey, how did you come up with the idea to build the website? 

The idea of the website was mine. I personally really needed a true bi+ digital platform. This was my main motivation to realize it. Bisexuality is already an easily erased, invisible position, furthermore, both the lgbti+ and the feminist politics regard it as an intersection rather than an entity of its own. On social media, bisexuality is often targeted and there are many negative, judgemental and biased content, even hate speech about bisexuality. Therefore, I imagined a universe where we can respond to all of this. 

The need to increase the visibility of bi+ politics in Turkey was also a great motivation. I applied to sivildüşün and their support helped me realize the project. Since I know English, I aim to put bi+ people in the agenda of lgbti+ and feminist politics by translating articles about the bi+ politics and bisexual health published abroad. I thought that it would be a big step forward to create a source of information to battle against both the invisibility and the bias, stereotypes, hate speech and dire lack of information about the bi+. I can say Bitopya was born out of the passion to create a universe where we can try to oust monosexism and biphobia out of our lives, ways of thinking and acting; just like we have been struggling against discrimination, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. 

As its name aptly expresses, bitopya carries the aim to expand the horizons through new imaginings for bi+. What do you think is the work and role of digital activism?

It is surely not just tweeting ☺. It doesn’t matter how much that tweet is faved or retweeted. I find the power of social media significant, but I doubt that one tweet or one long flood of political discourse are digital activism. My questioning of the scope of digital activism pushed me to create the website. In my opinion, digital activism should carry the aim to counter the disinformation on social media and promote a healthy platform for debate, dialogue and contact. I’m also motivated to do digital activism for bi+ politics resisting hate speech against the bi+ people. I see so many biphobia ridden tweets written by users who would not accept their biphobia. I am trying to make the digital media a safer place for bi+ people, against monosexism and biphobia. This is what digital activism means for me as well. It is to carry out work of awareness-building without creating opposite poles, without siding with violence; caring for information exchange, healthy communication, equality and inclusion instead.  

How is the “B” and the “+” faring in the LGBTI+ movement of Turkey? How would you describe the hardships of being bi+ in Turkey? Is it any different around the world? 

It is as if bisexuality amounts to nothing. It might sound too tough but this is how it seems. We have just begun to walk on the paths opened by the subjects themselves. If it weren’t for them, no one would think about it. Of course there is a history to it all and it has only become possible to speak about bisexuality through the struggle of the bisexual feminists under the feminist movement, not just the LGBTI+ movement. 

People have been trying to build paths to bi+ politics and bisexuality specifically since 2015. We can say that 2019 has been more promising. But only thanks to the resilience and rebellion of the subjects themselves….The erasure of bisexuals continues, because there are only a handful of people struggling against the lack of information and prejudice. Due to this lack of knowledge, people overlook the fact that bisexuality is a range, an umbrella identity and existence. We try to put it in the literature as “bi+”. We try to put monosexism in literature. 

This is a new struggle of course. Our awareness as subjects is also quite new. Because it is ignored to such an extent that we got used to existing and practicing politics within an intersection of different ways of being.And then there is phobia and hatred. Such atmosphere prevents you from noticing the internalized biphobia. It is quite tragic. I for one can not separate the “+” from bisexuality. The politics of Bitopya is never independent or detached from “+” and trans politics. Because it carries the aim to expose the relationship and intersection of the systems built on binaries and on social consensus. This is why it is a difficult but not an impossible struggle. The steps we take to rid our thinking and judgements of those binaries, to think outside the binaries, to develop arguments and to refrain from generalizations will prioritize “B” and “+” in LGBTI+ movement. 

There is this supposed aim to not fall in the trap of gender binaries in general but I don’t think it’s practiced in reality. Language and politics are still built on the binary of homosexual vs. heterosexual. Bi+ politics criticizes this very binary and relates it to the other constructed binaries. If in fact the critique of binaries was carried out, no one would take the bait of homosexual/heterosexual binary.

There are hardships that begin with the moment of coming out as a bisexual: being invalidated, others’ expectations of proof, not being taken seriously and being showered with disapprovals. The negative experiences in relationships and the traumas have a great impact on your existence and your desire. You take your share from the hierarchy which sides with experience over desire. You can not come out. It all goes back to before you come out anyway. All the hate speech, prejudice, stereotypes, judgements and vilification conditions you and prevents you from finding a representation. In any case there can not be a representation which says “yes, this is bi+”. At least it can not be monolithic. 

Under  such circumstances you experience the absence of characters which identify as bisexual on media or encounter stereotypical representations unfortunately. You are eliminated by being sweeped under one roof. “Gay marriage”, “gay couple”, “lesbian films”, “gay representations”. Bisexuality is never imagined. Why would something laden with so many prejudices and disavowal be imagined anyway? Let’s say you did come out, then you are labeled as supporting binary gender. I’ve encountered this interpretation so many times. You are never queer enough, you are always so binary. Who has the right to come up with these judgements? The idea of bisexuals as being one homogenous group dominates the perspectives. I thought we were advocating for diversity? Let’s face it, we hit a wall when it comes to the matter of bi+ people☺. 

You suffer from not being able to reflect on monosexism or to make it an item in the agenda; you are assigned an orientation based on the person you are with, and depending on that you are either let in or cast out of the lgbti+ community. You are either perceived as a privileged person living their life stepping on others or as someone who suffers too if you are with a person of same gender at that particular moment. I don’t think you can disrobe your privilege depending on who you are with. It’s not like “bam” now I’m not privileged, because my partner is not of the same gender or is not regarded as normative, or “voila” I’m privileged now because my partner is of another gender identity. How can that be? Is this a game of musical chairs? We need to question this fixed, generalizing, clearly delineated way of thinking.

The situation is no different elsewhere in the world. Although I feel like there would be local differences, as far as I can follow, it is all quite universal: The invisibility, ostracization, exposure to negative bias, the binary thinking mechanism in society and the movement. The translations in Bitopya are not in vain  

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Bitopya website design and illustrations are made by Ecemen.

Since we are already in outer space, looking back at the world, let us also ask: An important mission of Bitopya is translation. You and LGBTI News Turkey have a common issue: To build a bridge between the bi+ folks in Turkey and around the world. What do you think is the significance and function of translation? What is the potential of the exchange that the internet provides for the LGBTI+ movement?

If we consider the fact that many LGBTI+ people use the internet and express themselves online more, we can see that our work is quite important. We have the potential to reach a lot more people. We can reach out to those who don’t breathe the same air with us or live in the same neighborhood. On its own the internet is a means that brings so many people together on a common ground. Yet we see that it also becomes a disadvantage when the social media is misused. 

That coming together also musters strength through polarization. Bitopya aims to disseminate its politics and its discourse without falling in that trap. A great lack of knowledge about bi+ politics reigns in Turkey. This is why it is crucial for me to follow what’s going on around the world. There are lots of sources in English but Turkey is unaware of that content, which makes Bitopya itself a responsibility. Not everyone knows English, therefore I wanted to translate the sources in English to Turkish. It was very vital that we have a particularly bi+ source and platform, otherwise bi+ existence is easily overlooked and not reflected upon. I thought that it was necessary to fight against the misinformation and hate speech disseminated on the internet, by creating such a platform. This is a choice after all. I hope it will reach a wider audience. 

Creating such a platform leads to international solidarity and communication as well, because the translation is not just a service for the readers in Turkey or a means of action, it leads to a contact with the owner/author of the translated content. Then that person also shares Bitopya. Next thing you know, Bitopya does not only reach Turkey anymore☺.  

Providing the transformation of language is another vital issue. It takes extra work to think about how to translate the English terms to Turkish and how to localize them while breaking the binaries reproduced in language.  My wish is to be able to introduce a link from the website against any misinformation or hate speech circulated on the internet, and to render Bitopya’s content widespread. I believe that this way people will no longer have a chance to ignore it anymore. We see the first steps in this path and I believe it will grow stronger. 

Let us briefly talk about the sections on the website too: Bi+ politics, bisexual health and bisexual history. How did these titles come about? Are you thinking of adding new titles? Will we see original content too? We are very excited!

It’s quite exciting for me too ☺, I’m happy that it resonates with you. The section “bi+ politics” introduces bi+politics pursued abroad to Turkey and to Turkish. “Bisexual health” provides articles about the impact of monosexism and biphobia on bisexual healthcare, to the health conditions that may be overlooked under the banner of LGBTI+ health and to the bi+ people’s access to healthcare. 

Bitopya also introduces videos published by the #StillBisexual video campaign with Turkish subtitles. This section will continue to be updated as well. #StillBisexual is a video content campaign developed by activist and writer Nicole Kristal in 2015. Bisexuals share various stories about their orientations at #StillBisexual and the hashtag aims to fight the negative bias and myths about bisexual, in order to develop an awareness about bisexuality as a range of existences.   

One of the reasons why bisexuality is lesser known is because its history is lesser known. Moving forwards with that idea, Bitopya aims to create awareness through the translation of the bihistory page. There will of course be additions. There are some ideas waiting to be realized in video format. I also want to dig deeper in bi+ history of Turkey. I’m not sure what you mean by original content but there will be new stuff for sure. Stay tuned!☺. 

Some of our readers may share the dreams of Bitopya and may wish to contribute to the site, especially our English speaking readers.  How can they contribute?

We will develop Bitopya together in fact. Maybe they can come up with an idea about how they can contribute when they look into the website. There can be help with translation. They can send articles either in Turkish or English. When we receive a text in a language other than English or Turkish, we need help with translation, so if you are fluent in other languages you are welcome to help. We had translated an article Zeynap wrote in ILGA before, about bisexual asylum seekers. It is very valuable to hear more about this issue. We are open to contributions in design and illustration. Our horizons are wide open as to how to grow together. I do not want to approach Bitopya as an editor, I see it as a platform shaped by togetherness, contact and sharing. 

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Bitopya’s logo is also designed by Ecemen.

It’s hard not to notice how beautiful your logo and web design is. Who is the designer? We definitely have to credit their contribution. 

Ecemen designed the website as well as building it. It is surely a work of the harmony between our imagination and ideas. I always say, if it weren’t for Ecemen, there wouldn’t be Bitopya.☺ 

We would like to thank Umut for taking their time for the interview. If you would like to get in touch with Bitopya, send an e-mail to bitopya.org@gmail.com

Don’t forget to follow bitopya.org ! Sharing is caring!

Social media accounts:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bitopya/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BitopyaOrg

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bitopya

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHhuPAUXMwf34utc4YlCATA

 

How is the trans sex workers’ right to work being violated in Turkey?

On the occasion of the 3rd of March International Sex Workers’ Rights Day, for the KaosGL readers, we have compiled the details of how the right to work, which is one of the fundamental rights of trans sex workers, is being violated and how this violation can be combated. 

Source: “How is the trans sex workers’ right to work being violated in Turkey?” (Türkiye’de trans seks işçilerinin çalışma hakkı nasıl ihlal ediliyor?), Aslı Alpar, Kaos GL, 3rd of March, 2020 https://www.kaosgl.org/haber/turkiye-de-trans-seks-iscilerinin-calisma-hakki-nasil-ihlal-ediliyor

According to the Constitution’s relevant article on the right to work, “work” is defined as “the right and duty of everyone”.

The same article includes the following statement: “the state takes the necessary measures to increase the quality of the employees’ lives, to protect the employees and the unemployed in order to improve working life, to support the work, to create an economic environment suitable for preventing unemployment, and to ensure peace of work.”

However, when it comes to sex workers, the right to work, which is one of the fundamental rights in the Constitution, is violated. Trans sex workers are exposed to discrimination based on gender identity as well as violations of the right to work.

So, by what means do the laws, those who work for the implementation of the laws, and the law enforcement forces violate trans sex workers’ right to work?

1 – The Law of Misdemeanours

The law of misdemeanours is a law defining various misdemeanours “in order to protect the social order, public morality, public health, environment and economic order.”

In this law, there is no article that defines the work of sex workers as misdemeanours. However, by using this law, law enforcement officers frequently impose administrative fines on sex workers who find customers on the street.

It is possible to fight against the fines imposed by the articles 32, 36 and 37 of the Law through the Criminal Court of Peace. You can use this link to reach an example of the petition that should be written against administrative fines, which was prepared by the Pembe Hayat LGBTI + Solidarity Association.

2 – The Law of Highway Traffic

Another tool used to violate sex workers’ right to work is the Law of Highway Traffic and the Highway Traffic Regulations enacted in relation to this law. Administrative fines are imposed on sex workers by using the first paragraph of the Article 68 of the Law, which regulates the rules for pedestrians.

The relevant article states, “The pedestrians who are on pedestrian roads, crossings or highways when necessary, are prohibited from acting in a way that will prevent or endanger the traffic.”

Sex work is not prohibited in the Turkish Criminal Law. In order to arbitrarily prevent sex workers from their works, the Law of Misdemeanours and the Law of Highway Traffic are being used to punish sex workers, although these laws do not contain the relevant provisions.

3 – Fines to the business cards

Business cards used by sex workers were sent to court under the article 226 of the Turkish Criminal Law, which regulates “obscenity”. After removing their photos, which had been seen as obscene images, from the cards, the sex workers faced another problem after the state of emergency.

The article 227 of the Turkish Criminal Law, which is one of the bag bills enacted during the state of emergency, was amended under the Law on the Amendment of Some Laws and the Criminal Procedure Law No. 6763 published in the official newspaper on December 2. According to this article, “prostitution” is not taken as a crime, but it is forbidden to advertise “prostitution”.

4 – Tracking on social media

Another practice that usurps the sex workers’ right to work is tracking on social media and law enforcement forces raiding houses. By hiding their identities and acting like a client, these officers make contact with the sex workers who use social media to communicate with the clients after the ban on business cards. Then, they go to the sex workers’ houses and impose fines. 

5 – Red tagging the houses, closing the streets

Another violation tool of the administration is to seal the houses with red tags and to close the streets.

Bornova Street in İzmir, where trans sex workers often work, for a while was closed every night the law enforcement forces and the trans people’s right to work was violated. Trans sex workers, whose rights and freedoms are restricted unlawfully in the closed street, are deprived of the procedural security granted to persons in case of detention, and the “medical examination” that must be carried out in custody is skipped.

Red tagging the houses where the trans sex workers work and live leads to another violation of the rights. In addition to being left homeless, the sex workers whose work and housing rights are being violated as a result of the red tags at their houses are not able to work until the tags are lifted.

 

Illustration: Aslı Alpar The person on the illustration says “Turkish Penal Code does not consider sex work to be a crime”.

March 3rd at Kadıköy: Trans Sex Workers, the City’s Residents and Owners

Kadıköy City Council’s LGBTI+ Assembly met with trans sex workers: “We are complaining about the police to the police. There are so many penalties,which one can you object to?”  

Source: “March 3rd at Kadıköy: Trans Sex Workers, the City’s Residents and Owners” (“Kadıköy’de 3 Mart: Trans Seks İşçileri Kentin Sakini ve Sahibi”), Cem Öztürk, KaosGL, March 4, 2020, https://www.kaosgl.org/haber/kadikoy-de-3-mart-trans-seks-iscileri-kentin-sakini-ve-sahibi

Kadıköy City Council’s LGBTI+ Assembly came together with trans sex workers on March 3, International Sex Workers Day at Kadıköy.  

While taking into consideration the subject’s visbility and freedom of speech, the panel discussed trans sex workers’ rights violations, their demands regarding the city and, as the city’s residents and owners, the ways in which living spaces could be made more safe and free. 

Aiming to ensure that the trans community can effectively participate in local politics, the participants discussed what could be done around common agendas.  

Law of Misdemeanors

The event started with the moderator explaining the structure of Kadıköy City Council LGBTI + Assembly and the work they do. Regarding the violations of rights, the participants stated that even though there is no prohibition on sex work in criminal law, the police still penalize trans women, citing the Law of Misdemeanors, and claim that trans sex workers looking for customers on the street “disturb the environment” and are “complained about”. They stated that this unlawful practice has become a systematic violation of the rights of trans women.

One of the participants said, “I get fined almost every night. There are times when they fine me more than once on the same day. Recently, when doing identity checks, they take criminal action against us without any explanation. The police report our identity information to the police station and take action. We find out about this much later. So much so that without being aware, I had accumulated 15 different fines, which is equivalent to about 2-3 thousand liras. It is not possible for me to pay this. I cannot file a complaint since no petitions have been given. Because I haven’t paid, I keep getting notices sent to my home. Sometimes, just to not get a fine, I refuse to give my identity card. But then, they forcefully take me to the police station.” 

“ Once your identification information is taken, you become blacklisted”

“The number of those who work on the streets has decreased due to police bullying. Many trans women now find customers online. But the police still follow us. That’s why we let each other know who the police are in the online dating applications and only accept customers by reference” added one participant. Another participant said “Even if we are not working and go out after 12 a.m., we still get a fine. One night after returning home from a walk with my boyfriend and dog, I was injured by a police officer in front of my door and broke a bone. The attacker was acquitted at court. Actually, it doesn’t have to be night time. Once I went out to the bakery during the day. A police officer stopped me in front of the bakery. Even though he saw the two loaves of bread in my hand, he still gave me a fine. He knows me because once your identification information is taken, you become blacklisted.” 

“We complain about the police to the police” 

Taking the floor, another participant said, “We call 155 to complain about the police who infringe on our rights. Ironically, we complain about the police to the police. There are so many penalties, which one can you object to? If I object to every single unjust penalty, that would mean I would be spending my life at the courthouse. Which one can I catch up with? I neither have the time nor the energy.”  

Regarding their demands concerning the city, the participants expressed that they were generally happy and comfortable living in Kadıköy. One participant said “I have been living in Kadikoy for almost 20 years. I feel like I’m from Kadikoy. I don’t go to the municipality, so I don’t know about the kinds of work they do.” “The municipality doesn’t recognize trans people. In other districts, municipalities have started employing trans people. Why not in Kadikoy?” asked another participant. 

What can be done? 

Evaluating the meeting, Kadıköy City Council’s LGBTİ+ Assembly representative said “We organized this meeting to engage with trans sexs workers, make them visible, provide space for their voices to be heard, identify their ongoing problems and make our demands a part of the local government’s agenda. We ensured the safety of the event by extending invitations to the participants via closed social media groups. I’m very pleased with the participation. This was a great meeting and actually a great start. We want to establish Kadıköy City Council LGBTI + Assembly’s trans policies with trans subjects. We attach great importance to ensuring that transgender people are not excluded from city agendas, decision-making processes and active participation in local politics.”

The event reporter said “One of the most striking finds for me was: Trans sex workers are not aware of the services provided by LGBTI+ non-governmental organizations such as psychosocial support and legal advising services. This is because they use the experiences and coping methods they have developed over the years to fight against the violations of their rights that they are subjected to. More work needs to be done on how the services offered by LGBTI + non-governmental organizations can be made more accessible for trans sex workers. Another important demand was about the provision of voluntary lawyers who can be reached at the time of the incident during violations experienced at night.”

“The topic of what we can do together at the local level was particularly productive. To fight against violations of rights, a proposal for legal self-defense workshops was brought forth. Despite all the negativity, we have agreed on how valuable it is to continue fighting and organizing. We have seen again how much the cooperation between local government, civil society and urban citizens is missing when it comes to trans sex workers. As the Kadıköy City Council LGBTI + Assembly, we are aware of our responsibility in this area. Because trans sex workers are also the inhabitants and therefore the owners of this city” said the reporter.  

ILGA-Europe’s #AnnualReview2019 is now out!

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ILGA Europe’s annual review covering the period of January and December 2019 is published. The Turkey chapter was drafted in coordination with team members of LGBTI News Turkey. Once more, Turkey ranks 48 among 49 countries, with a score of 5%. You can read the Turkey chapter here and the full report here.

Below we share the press release on the report:

Annual Review of the situation of LGBTI people paints a picture at odds with a widespread notion that in Europe the work is done

Launched today [February 4, 2020] , the 10th edition of ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review details the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people across the 49 European countries, and the five countries of Central Asia. Created with LGBTI activists and experts on the ground, the Review also identifies trends, both current and on the rise.

This year’s review, which charts developments during the 12 months of 2019, paints a complex picture that diverges from the widespread narrative that all is well for LGBTI people in large parts of Europe. Central to this is a sharp rise in anti-LGBTI hate speech carried out by public figures across Europe – in countries ranging from Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey, to Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain – and the very real consequences of this for LGBTI individuals and groups. In many countries across the European and Central Asian regions, and not only those with a documented growth in official bias-motivated speech, there has also been an equally sharp increase in online hate-speech and physical attacks on LGBTI people, many of the latter premeditated and brutal.

The review identifies that this is a pan-European phenomenon, from the UK where the populist narrative surrounding Brexit can be linked to an increase in anti-LGBTI hate crimes and incidents, to the banning of events in many towns and cities on the continent, the prosecution of participants in Pride marches in Turkey, and a growing presence of anti-LGBTI and neo-Nazi protesters in public spaces during LGBTI events across the region.

Alongside the rise in hatred, there is increased movement of people from within the region to countries perceived as less harsh. More LGBTI people left countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan for neighbouring countries where the situation might be perceived as relatively safer. There is also an anecdotal rise in people saying they want to leave countries like Poland for other EU countries.

Reported obstacles in access to healthcare, bullying in schools and the workplace, and LGBTI people being denied services, often with a lack of governmental intervention, all play a part in the overall picture of a Europe where lived experiences for a large part do not match up with the surface message that LGBTI rights and equality have been fully secured.

According to Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe: “It is not all bad news. The issue of bodily integrity for intersex people continues to gain more prominence on the political agenda of governments and institutions. 2019 was a year of positive developments for rainbow families in the region, with an expansion of family rights in a few countries; and important advancements continue to be made on reforming or establishing legal gender recognition procedures, even if in many countries progress is slowing down.

“However, the lived reality of LGBTI people in many parts of Europe and Central Asia is increasingly difficult and for a large part remains invisible, even to organisations like ILGA-Europe. Action is needed. Governments still have so much to do, from adopting laws that guarantee the protection of people’s rights and giving public authorities the means to translate policy into practice across sectors, to leading by example in having a discourse promoting social acceptance and inclusion.

“By making people aware of such a broad and nuanced picture, which is constantly shifting and evolving, the ILGA-Europe Annual Review aims to give a sense of the enormity of issues and areas that affect the lives of people, which will continue to require attention, especially in a context where LGBTI people are being targeted and vulnerability is heightened.”

Trans Istanbul Initiative is Established

The Trans Istanbul Initiative, formed by a group of trans people who come together at Trans Therapy Group meetings, aims to work towards removing barriers to fundamental rights and freedoms.

Source: “Trans Istanbul Initiative is Established”, (Trans İstanbul İnisiyatifi kuruldu), kaosgl.org, January 2, 2020, https://www.kaosgl.org/haber/trans-istanbul-inisiyatifi-kuruldu

trans-istanbul-inisiyatifi-kuruldu

Referring to the constitution’s 10th and 17th articles on fundamental rights, the initiative lists the most fundamental rights violations in their opening statement. The Initiative invites everyone to show solidarity and organize, “In order to fight against transphobic and heterosexist violence that we experience in all areas of life; together, we are going to create spaces that empower us.”   

“We invite all LGBT+ to empower each other”

The Initiative’s opening statement is as follows:

“According to the 10th article of the constitution, ‘Everyone, regardless of language, race, color, gender, political thought, philosophical belief, religion, sect and other similar reasons, is without discrimination, equal before the law.’ However, the equality clause does not include gender identity and excludes us trans people from constitutional security offering no protection against discrimination.

Again, according to the 17th article of the constitution, ‘Everyone has the right to life, to the protection and development of their material and spiritual existence.’ However, within the existing social, economic, political and legal order, we are first and foremost prevented from accessing our most basic rights, especially our right to life; including access to health, work, housing and education.

To eliminate the obstacles to our fundamental rights and freedoms and to fight against the transphobic and heterosexist violence we are exposed to in all areas of life; together we will create spaces that will strengthen us all. With this aim, as trans people that have come together at the Trans Therapy Group meetings, we planted the seeds of the Trans Istanbul Initiative. The Trans Therapy Group meetings have been held on the first Wednesday of every month in Istanbul since 2013 providing trans people with psychosocial support on transition processes.

 In order to enlarge such empowering spaces that belong to us, we decided to organize under an initiative. With this aim, every month, we will organize trainings, seminars, workshops and various socio-cultural activities for trans people in Istanbul.

 As the Trans Istanbul Initiative, we invite all LGBTI+ to show solidarity, to organize and empower each other. If you would like to organize with us around this purpose and be informed about our meetings, you can contact us at transinisiyatif@gmail.com. We were here, we existed, we will exist! We are Neither Wrong, Nor Alone!”

You can find the Trans Istanbul Initiative here.

QueerFest Strikes Again: What we know so far about 9th Pink Life QueerFest

9th Pink Life QueerFest is just around the corner. The festival will take place in three venues around Taksim: Vault34, the French Cultural Center and Kıraathane. The festival is titled “Döneriz Elbet” (“We’ll surely be back”) this year, emphasizing the fact that the festival is here to stay.
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The opening party will be at Babylon Bomontiada, featuring the 80’s film star and singer Banu Alkan (“The Aphrodite”). The party will also feature Zahter, Şevval Kılıç, Özgür Kaktüs & Asîde & Deus ex Machina as well as Dudakların Cengi, the lipsync battle, drag show which has long since taken over queer night life in Istanbul. Attendees are expected to wear their Sunday best to pose for the press on the red carpet.
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The second party announced will be on January 25 at Anahit Sahne, featuring DJs Üzüm Derin Solak, Elif KK and Q-Bra and will not be suitable for the faint of heart or the vanilla: The attendants are expected to don their whips, handcuffs and paint the night into “50 shades of queer”!
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QueerFest has been aiming to be more accessible for audiences with disabilities. As a part of these efforts, the festival organizers announced that there will be sign language translation in all interactive events of the Istanbul festival. The organizers also note that they will continue their efforts to make the festival more accessible next year.