Law & Politics

Judicial and political environment in Turkey on LGBTI issues

Kemal Ordek on Bianet: “I’ve been trying to prove that I was raped for 2 years and 7 court hearings”

Kemal Ordek on rape, law and activism nearly two years after being assaulted in their home. The interview with Bianet was published a day before the court ruled on the case of sexual assault. Ordek claimed that one of the assailants in the attack on their home had also raped them. On May 24, the court ruled that there was no sexual assault. All three defendants were sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison for attempting to plunder.

Source: Çicek Tahaoglu, “Tam 2 Senedir, 7 Duruşmadır Tecavüze Uğradığımı Kanıtlamaya Çalışıyorum,” bianet, 23 May 2017, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/186721-tam-2-senedir-7-durusmadir-tecavuze-ugradigimi-kanitlamaya-calisiyorum

The final verdict will be given on the president of Red Umbrella Association, Kemal Ordek’s case, on May 24.

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Kemal Ordek, a sex worker, a defender of sex workers’ rights for many years, was attacked at home by three people in 2015. One of the attackers seized Ordek’s mobile phone, also sexually abused them. Then they took Ordek to an ATM to take money from his account. Ordek saw a police patrol car at that moment, and managed to escape from the attackers.

Three days later, when we talked to Ordek, they were explaining in fear and anger how the attackers threatened him at the police station by saying, “We know where you live, we will be released anyway, think about it,” and what kind of dialogues were between police officers and attackers, “Don’t waste us for this poof, we understand each other right, my brother?”

That night, the attackers were released. They continued to disturb Ordek via phone for a while. And a nonsuit motion was granted for police officers who tried to argue Ordek out of their criminal complaint and were making Ordek wait and sit with the attackers in the same car and saying “the people of lut are still alive”.

Ordek, as an experienced human rights defender, pursued the violation that they were subject to at this time. Lawsuits were brought against three attackers, two of them were charged with robbery, threatening, and limiting a person’s freedom, the third was charged additionally with major sexual assault, and they were arrested.

Following the decision of the local court, prosecutor Turkay Turkler appealed the sexual assault verdict with the allegations of non-existence of “an evidence above suspicion, complete, certain and credible”.

On May 24 at 14.00, the trial will resume in Ankara for a summary judgment. Before the trial, we met Ordek and discussed the court’s approach to the sexual assaults, the consent issue and the vague borders of “activist Kemal and victim Kemal.”

“There wasn’t a discussion on consent, it was very important that the penalty was imposed according to the testimony”

Your lawyers described the fact that one of the attackers was punished for sexual assault as “leading case.” Could you explain the reason?

This was a leading case because it reflected the things we wanted to say as activists. In the legal struggle following the things I experienced, the concept of consent wasn’t questioned at court, and verdict was given according to the testimony. The court committee said “there is a sexual assault, it is a major sexual assault, there is a limitation on a person’s freedom, and there are crimes like threatening and insulting,” in consensus and approved a punishment that wasn’t requested, or predicted by the prosecutor.

From these points, it’s a leading case, but it ignored the robbery, which was lacking. Also, they didn’t issue an arrest warrant until the last hearing.

(more…)

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee sues leader of far-right group for targeting Pride 2016

 

THIS IS OUR CALL!

On the eve of LGBTI+ and Trans Pride Marches in Istanbul on 2016, Alperen Hearths Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican organized a press meeting and declared us to be “immoral,” threatening the marches. Mican’s statement that “We will never, ever allow such Immorality, like this march that is called “honor” but really it is immoral, that touch the nation’s nerves, to be normalized or encouraged” is deliberate hate speech directed against LGBTI+s’ struggle for honorable life and it can not be accepted. As LGBTI+s we are taking him to court!

As a result of our criminal complaint against him, Kürşat Mican will be tried on the charge of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity.” The first hearing is on Thursday, May 18, 13:30 at Kartal Courthouse 44. Court of First Instance. We are expecting all our friends to support our case at Kartal Courthouse on May 18, 13:30.

We will initiate a social media campaign with the hashtag #alışındavacıyız (#getusedtoitwesue) on May 16, 21:00, to make our voices heard and to stand by our Pride Week and our case.

We will be plaintiffs for all the injustice, pressure, and hate speech against us!

Get used to it, we are here, #alışındavacıyız!

Kaos GL: 5 LGBTI activists arrested for different reasons in April

5 LGBTI activists from Diyarbakır, Istanbul, and Izmir who carried out the “No” campaign against the constitutional change that was voted upon on April 16 and who protested the questionable outcome of the referendum were arrested for different reasons.

Source: “Nisan ayında 5 LGBTİ aktivisti farklı gerekçelerle tutuklandı” (“5 LGBTI activists arrested for different reasons in April”), Kaos GL, 25 April 2017, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23611

The referendum on constitutional changes has been voted upon but human rights violations have not stopped. Detentions and arrests directed at those who carried out the “No” campaign throughout the referendum period and pressure towards those who have brought attention to the possibility of a questionable outcome in the referendum and taken to the streets are ongoing.

LGBTI activists are also among those protesting the referendum results and the Supreme Electoral Council’s decision to count unsealed ballots as valid. Some were detained upon taking to the streets to draw attention to the irregularities of the referendum.

Istanbul: Two arrests on allegations of insulting the president

LGBTI activist Çağla was detained at a “No” demonstration organized on the evening of April 18 in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district. On April 22, she was arrested. Attorney Rozerin Seda Kip from SPoD LGBTI visited Çağla in prison. She reported what Çağla experienced to KaosGL.org as follows:

“She was arrested while the demonstration was still going on with the justification of insulting the president. She was the only person taken out of the group. There is no evidence to show that she carried out the crime of defamation in the police reports or file. While she was detained, an additional detention period was requested as part of the state of emergency. Ultimately she was arrested. We will object to this decision.”

Additionally, LGBTI+ [community] member and activist Nakka, who carried out the “No” campaign in Istanbul before the referendum, was detained with an accusation of insulting the president and was later arrested.

Izmir: Detention and arrest following referendum protest

Two LGBTI activists who joined a protest in Izmir following the referendum were also arrested with the allegation of insulting the president. Red Ocean LGBTI and Positive Resistance (Kızıl Okyanus LGBTİ ve Pozitif Direniş) member Asya Gökalp and an activist friend from Positive Resistance were detained in a dawn operation following the demonstration. Both were arrested.

Diyarbakır: Detention and arrest before the referendum

LGBTI activist Loren was arrested on April 13, being among those detained on April 4 in an operation directed at members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (Ezilenlerin Sosyalist Partisi, ESP) who carried out the “No” campaign in Diyarbakır.

Constitutional Court halts deportation of trans refugees

 

The Constitutional Court halted the decision made by the Denizli Immigration Authority to deport two Iranian refugee trans women.

Source: “Trans mültecilerin sınır dışını AYM durdurdu,” Evrensel, 22 April 2017, https://www.evrensel.net/haber/316838/trans-multecilerin-sinir-disini-aym-durdurdu

The Constitutional Court halted the decision of the Denizli Migration Authority to deport two Iranian refugee trans women with the justification that it could bring about irreparable results. The two Iranian refugee trans women, who were taken into custody by the police on the evening of April 18 because they did not have work permits, were wanted for deportation by the Denizli Migration Authority with the allegation that they “disrupted public safety.”

The Denizli Migration Authority, which did not allow the refugees their right to object to the decision, wanted the deportation operation to take place in the morning hours of March 21 [sic. Article means April], but with pressure from both lawyers and associations doing work related to refugees and rights advocates, the Denizli Migration Authority was forced to suspend the operation.

The refugees’ lawyers Gamze Saymak and Tezcan Çakmak applied to the Constitutional Court and requested that an injunction be issued related to the deportation decision. The Constitutional Court, which evaluated the demand, ruled to temporarily suspend the two Iranian refugee trans women’s deportation.

The following was said in the ruling: “In order to evaluate whether or not there was a serious threat to the applicant’s life or material or spiritual wholeness through a concrete event, a need is felt for more information and documents. Additionally, in the case that the deportation operation were carried out during the period of research, irreparable consequences could emerge. For this reason, the decision has been made to temporarily halt the deportation of the applicant to their country in order for relevant information and documents to be collected and reevaluated.”

REFUGEES SENT TO ISTANBUL

The refugees, who were held at the Denizli Kınıklı Police Station for three days to be sent to Iran, were sent to the Istanbul Silivri Deportation Center without information being given to their lawyers. The Migration Authority denied the lawyers’ request for information, saying “you do not have power of attorney.”

MIGRATION AUTHORITY DID NOT WANT TO MAKE A DECISION

Lawyer Gamze Saymak, who spoke to our newspaper, while criticizing the attitude of the migration authority during this process, said: “Though we said that we had been appointed by the bar, the Provincial Migration Directorate did not give our side any information or documents and did not give us permission to review the file with the justification that we did not have power of attorney. They did not even want to accept the documents related to the case opened at the Denizli Provincial Migration Directorate Administrative Court or the application for injunction we made at the Constitutional Court. Only after much fighting we were able to deliver the documents.”

Kaos GL: Probe into LGBTI awareness event at Robert College

The Turkish Ministry of Education has started an investigation into private American high school Robert College after daily Yeni Akit targeted the school. Akit headlined the investigation as an “investigation into perversion.” 

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Source: Aslı Alpar, “Robert Koleji’nin LGBTİ farkındalık etkinliklerine soruşturma,” kaosGL.org, 4 April 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23466

The Ministry of National Education (MEB) has started an investigation into Robert College, which was targeted by homophobic daily newspaper Yeni Akit for holding a series of LGBTI awareness events for students. Yeni Akit headlined the events as “Perversion at Robert College” and the investigation as “MEB Investigation into Perversion at Robert.”

In a March 31 article, Faruk Aslan from Yeni Akit used provocative sentences like “they will inject homoseuality to high-school students” and show “immoral movies” at Robert College’s LGBTI awareness events. Aslan also alleged that the events did not have MEB permission and they presented the events as “a perversion choir to present the homosexuality sickness as a normal human condition in society.”

Akit targeted, MEB started the investigation

MEB’s Besiktas District Office began an investigation into the school in less than a week after Akit targeted Robert College. Faruk Arslan’s racist and homophobic story that “announces the good news” for the investigation also includes the school’s own defense.

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Faruk Aslan reports the investigation as “MEB has not remained silent on Robert College’s perverted events that inject homosexuality into its students.” Arslan says Robert College confirmed the LGBTI week to the ministry and that the school organized the week to respect different genders.

Faruk Arslan claims to have access to Robert College’s defense in the investigation. Arslan includes the file number and the names of school officials. By sharing an official document, Arslan is turning these officials into open targets.

Seeing Akit’s homophobia in the Ministry of National Education

Arslan claims that the MEB asked the school “Which gender includes the homosexuality sickness?” The newspaper says Robert College did not respond to this question. Homosexuality is legal and is not considered a sickness in Turkey. Akit’s assessment of homosexuality as a sickness is rooted in the newspaper’s homophobia.

However, if the newspaper’s claim is accurate, then MEB also views homosexuality as a sickness and demands that it be related to a gender. In that case, then MEB’s investigation and Akit’s homophobia are intertwined.

Previously, we were informed of MEB’s Cankaya District Manager Mehmet Yilmaz’s homophobia through Whatsapp messages to school principles. Yilmaz texted his discomfort of LGBTI commissions in schools and alleged that students are trying to be pulled into “perversion” and that “this perverted mentality which is today’s representatives of the tribe of Lot” are trying to hang “posters that present sexual perversions like perverted gay and lesbianism” in schools.

If Akit’s allegations of Robert College investigation are correct, then we need to be speaking about MEB’s homophobia.

There are LGBTI students!

When Yeni Akit’s racist, homophobic, anti-LGBTI, aggressive and hateful “news” style is embraced by MEB, LGBTI students will be forced to hide and be ignored. It means LGBTI youth will not be able to exist in safety in society. Therefore, Akit and similar newspapers’ anti-LGBTI stance cannot be reproduced by state institutions and ministries.

Robert College’s principled stance against a media language that ignores and lynches LGBTI, as well as the fact that it is not taking a step back despite homophobic pressures from public institutions, is admirable.

Let this be a reminder: LGBTI students exist! LGBTIs exist! Homosexuality is not a sickness! Homophobia is discrimination!

They tried to put the LGBTI activist Kıvılcım Arat in a men’s detention cell!

Arat is in custody in Atatürk airport.

Source: T24, “Gözaltına alınan LGBTİ aktivisti Kıvılcım Arat’ı nezarethanede erkek bölümüne koymaya çalıştılar!” (They tried to hold the LGBTI activist Kıvılcım Arat in men’s detainment room!), 17 March 2017, http://t24.com.tr/haber/gozaltina-alinan-lgbti-aktivisti-kivilcim-arati-nezarethanede-erkek-bolumune-koymaya-calistilar,394365

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Trans activist
Kıvılcım Arat’s lawyer met her after she was taken into custody in Istanbul Atatürk International Airport and said they tried to put her in a men’s detention cell, but following an argument she was put in a single cell. Arat is detained for “not testifying in an investigation.”

According to a news report by KaosGL’s Yıldız Tar, following Istanbul LGBTİ Board Member trans activist Kıvılcım Arat’s detention in Atatürk Airport’s International Terminal today (March 17), her lawyer Aylin Kırıkçı met with Arat.

In an interview with KaosGL.org, lawyer Kırıkçı mentioned that they have not been informed on the content of the case file leading to the detention and made the following statement:

“Currently, we do not know the content of the case file, however, when we look into her GBT [General Information Gathering System — Trans.] record, we see that she was supposed to testify in a court case which led to an arrest warrant. It is unclear what she was going to testify about and in which court case. As her lawyers, we tried to contact the district attorney to start the process for her testimony but we could not reach them. Due to our client’s health problems the testimony was supposed to be taken today, but was not, because we could not reach the district attorney.”

They tried to put her in a men’s detention cell

Kırıkçı mentioned that Arat is held at the Atatürk Airport Police Station, and is expected to give her testimony to the district attorney tomorrow morning (March 18). Kırıkçı added that, even though Arat is a trans woman, they tried to hold her in a men’s detention cell:

“Even though my client is a trans women, they tried to put her in a men’s detention cell where 20 men are kept. Following Kıvılcım’s objection and an argument she was not put in the men’s area. Currently, she is kept in a single cell.”

She sent a message from detention

Arat sent a message with her lawyer. Her message emphasized solidarity.

“Just to spite those who try to call whistleblowing into in our spaces of solidarity, we will continue to fight, stick together, stand shoulder to shoulder.”

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Editor’s note: Kıvılcım Arat was released from detention on March 18.

HDP’s Sancar submits parliamentary question on hate speech and hate crimes committed against LGBTIs

Source: Mithat Sancar, Soru Önergesi, 7 March 2017.

TO THE OFFICE OF GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY of TURKEY

I present below questions to be answered in writing by The Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu in accordance with Article 98 of the Constitution and Articles 96 and 99 of the standing orders.

Mithat Sancar

Mardin MP

It was noted by the press that you have said “Who are you speaking for Ertuğrul Özkök? Do not interfere with things you don’t know, go be with whoever you want to be with, whether it’s the fruity types in America or Europe“ regarding Ertuğrul Özkök, during the “Referendum Consultation Meeting” that took place on March 7, 2017 in Trabzon’s Akçaabat district. On an advisory jurisdiction by Council of Europe Ministers Committee on 1997, hate speech is defined as “all forms of expressions that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance. Even if it does not always constitute a crime on its own, it is an act of strong aggression and silencing by the powerful against the certain populations that are socially disempowered, and it gives way to the hate crimes. The stereotypes created with these words can result in the othering of certain groups, to the incitement of the violence against them or to these groups becoming invisible.

It is clear that the use of the word “nonoş”, which is defined as “homosexual man” in the Turkish dictionary of Turkish Language Institution, with the intention of insult is a sexist and discriminatory discourse. The violence against those “nonoş” as you called them, is ever more intense due to the rampant nationalism. According to Kaos GL’s report, one in every four hate speech is articulated by politicians, no precautions were taken against the posters or news that target LGBTIs.

In March 2016, a trans woman called Buse was found dead in her house, lost her life as a result of assault and hacking inflicted injuries. On March 21 in Çorlu, a trans woman sex worker Aleda was stabbed to death. Hander Kader’s photos resisting police during the banned Pride Walk in June 2015 were published by the press, her body was found completely burnt in Zekeriyaköy on Aug. 8, 2016. Around the same time, Muhammed Wisam Sankari, a gay Syrian refugee who has been living in Istanbul for around a year, was threatened, abducted, raped, decapitated and killed brutally.

It is clear that the violence against the LGBTIs is not always visible, but according to the data published in press, it is certainly established that at least 41 trans individuals were victims of hate murders between the years 2008-2015. Since 2009, over 100 “nonoş”s are estimated to have lost their lives due to hate murders. Harassment, rape and other cases of violence are not even reported. The police force either remains completely insensitive towards these cases or is the very perpetrator of this violence.

Within this scope:

  1. Who did you precisely indicate when you said “nonoş”?
  2. While the LGBTIs are exposed to daily violence in the country you are a minister for, how do you think your use of the word “nonoş” as an insult will effect this violence?
  3. How many LGBTI murders were committed since the day you have become a minister?
  4. How many cases of violence against the LGBTIs have been reported since the day you have become a minister?
  5. Of the cases mentioned in questions 3 and 4, how many perpetrators have been found?
  6. What initiatives did your ministry took in order to solve the unresolved hate murders?