Law & Politics

Judicial and political environment in Turkey on LGBTI issues

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

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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.

“Şugariyet Ödülleri” aktivistleri birbirlerini kucaklamaya davet ediyor

Kısa bir süre önce SPoD, LGBTI+ hareketine kendini adamış isimlere verilecek “Şugariyet Ödülleri” için bir çağrı yayınladı. Çağrı, LGBTI+ hareketinin her türlü baskıyla mücadele ederken eleştiriye vakit ayırdığı kadar belki de yaptıklarını takdir etmeye vakit ayırmadığı kaygısı taşıyordu. SPoD Genel Koordinatörü Mustafa Sarıyılmaz’la LGBTI+ aktivizminin sırtladığı yüklere, yaşadığı yıpranmışlıklara karşı yapılabilecekleri konuştuk. Röportaj: Zeynep Serinkaya

Şugariyet Ödülleri fikri nasıl doğdu? 

Fikir aslında Yönetim Kurulu üyemiz Cihan Hüroğlu’dan çıktı. Cihan halihazırda GLBTİ+ hareketine çokça ve uzuncadır emek vermiş ve vermeye de devam eden biri olarak bunu uzuncadır düşündüğünü bir toplantıda dile getirdi. Tabii ki biz de hemen heyecanlandık ve “evet hadi yapalım” dedik. İçinde bulunduğumuz politik durumdan fazlasıyla etkilenen bir hareket LGBTİ+ hareketi ve son zamanlarda yurt dışına taşınma oranlarının artması, ifşaların artması, güvenli alanların azalması gibi durumlar insanları örgütlü olmaktan uzaklaştırmaya da başladı. Madiliğin binbir türlüsünü gerçekleştirir hale geldik acısıyla tatlısıyla, ancak “Birbirimizi takdir etmeyi unutmaya mı başladık?” sorusuyla aslında biraz da ortaya çıkan bir fikir oldu. 

Şugariyet Ödülleri, Hormonlu Domates gibi her sene olmasını planladığınız bir etkinlik mi? Bunun için herhangi bir kaynak buldunuz mu ya da destek gerekti mi? 

Şugariyet Ödülleri’nin kesinlikle her sene olmasını istiyoruz. Amacımız Hormonlu Domates’teki gibi aslında, her yıl LGBTİ+ hareketine emek verenlere böyle küçük bir şekilde de olsa teşekkür etmek ve emekleri görünür kılmak. Bunun için kaynak ve destek bulduk elbette. Bu fikir ile birlikte o dönem henüz yeni tanıştığımız Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Türkiye ile görüştük ve onlar da fikrimizi çok sevdiler ve destek olmak istediklerini bildirdiler. Ama elbette ki her zaman daha fazla desteğe açığız. Şugariyet takip ettiğimiz kadarıyla bulunduğumuz coğrafyada tek ödül töreni olma özelliğini taşıyacak. Bizim istediğimiz bu yıl Türkiye içinde bunu gerçekleştirip, ilerleyen dönemlerde daha bölgesel ve mümkünse uluslararası hale gelmesi için çalışmak. Bölgedeki LGBTİ+ hareketini desteklemek, iş birliklerini artırmak ve iletişimi güçlendirmek istiyoruz.

Türkiye’deki LGBTİ+ hareketi baskılara rağmen ayakta ve yılmıyor. Fakat bu direnç halinin psikolojik bir maliyeti de var ve belki hareketin dışında kalanlar bunu pek bilmiyor. Bize biraz LGBTI+ aktivizminin, genel olarak aktivist olmanın nasıl yıpratıcı olabileceğini anlatır mısın? Siz SPoD’da bununla nasıl baş ediyorsunuz? Onarıcı, sağaltıcı etkinliklerin aktivizmin sürdürülebilirliği için önemi nedir? 

Bu soruya öncelikli olarak bireysel cevap verip ardından kurumsal cevap vermek istiyorum. Genel olarak aktivist olmak bizlerin coğrafyasında fazlasıyla yıpratıcı bir durum. Ben gençlik ve mülteci alanından LGBTİ+ alanına giriş yapan biri olarak şunu söyleyebilirim, her alanın kendine ait zorlukları bulunuyor. İnsan olmayı ve insancıl bir hayat sürmeyi isteyen kişiler olarak, bunların size sağlanmadığı yerde bir yaşam kurmak ve buna ek olarak da konunun aktivizmini yürütmek çok fazla yorucu. Elinizi attığınız her şeyin ters tepmesi, her gün aldığınız kötü haberler, belki de sürekli olarak yaşadığınız şehirleri değiştirmek içinizdeki motivasyonu ve ‘benim bir derdim var’ olgularını yıkmaya o kadar hazır ki, çift taraflı bir bıçağın sizi yaralamamasını umarak aktivizminizi gerçekleştirmeye çalışıyorsunuz. Uygun bir çıkar yol bulmaya çalışıyorsunuz; olursa oluyor, olmuyorsa kopuyorsunuz. Size aktivizm yaptığınız alanı hatırlatan her şeyden uzaklaşıyorsunuz.

SPoD olarak bununla çok efektif bir başa çıkma metodumuz var diyemiyorum ne yazık ki. Öğrenmeye çalışıyoruz, “En efektif yöntemler neler olabilir, biz birbirimize nasıl sahip çıkabiliriz?” sorularını sürekli konuşup tartıştığımız bir dönemdeyiz. Gerekli destek sistemlerini öğrenip efektif olarak kullanmak istiyoruz. Ama şunu belirtmeden geçemeyeceğim; sağlamak için uğraştığımız hizmetlerden yararlanan kişilerin bizlere telefon, mail veya sosyal medya hesaplarımız üzerinden ulaşarak teşekkür etmeleri, hepimizin içindeki ateşi harlıyor. Ve yaptığımız işin ne kadar önemli olduğunu somut olarak görme şansına erişebiliyoruz. Bu teşekkürler, yıpranma payımızın eşiğini yukarıya çekiyor. Onarıcı, sağaltıcı etkinlikler ile maruz kaldığımız olumsuzluklar, kötü haberler ve hatta belki de ikincil travmalardan kendimizi arındırmaya yardımcı oluyor. Aslında muazzam bir deşarj olma yöntemi sunuyor sağaltıcı etkinlikler, bu da var olan gücümüzü yeniden canlandırıyor. 

Söylediğin şey çok doğru aslında. Türkiye’de LGBTİ+ hareketi şu anda en güçlü döneminde. Baskılar da en kuvvetli oldukları dönemde belki. Ancak bu süreç içinde LGBTİ+ hareketinin öznesi, parçası olan kurumlar olarak birbirimizle daha fazla iletişim halindeyiz, daha fazla haberleşiyoruz, daha fazla takdir ediyoruz, daha fazla işbirliği yapıyoruz, daha fazla birbirimizi görünür kılmak için uğraşıyoruz. OHAL ile birlikte de aslında daha fazla sivil toplum kuruluşu ile de işbirliği yapmaya başladık. LGBTİ+ hareketi gün geçtikçe genişliyor ve kuvvetleniyor. Ve bu organik genişleme ve güçlenme bana yine güç veriyor ve yıpranma eşiğimi yukarı çekiyor.

 

LGBTI+ hareketi, adının da layığını veren bir çeşitliliğe sahip. Bu renkli çeşitlilik içinde farklılıkların ayrışmalara dönüşmemesi için de sürekli bir diyalog şart. Ödül törenleri ve parti gibi etkinliklerin bu bir aradalık açısından önemi nedir sence?

Gerçekten de öyle. Çok geniş bir çeşitliliğe sahip LGBTİ+ hareketi. Aslında farklılıkların ayrışmalara dönmesini önemsiyorum ben. Ama bu ayrışmalar henüz her zaman diyalog içinde gerçekleşemiyor. Umarım farklılıklar diyaloglar içerisinde kendine yer bulur ve gerçek bir kapsayıcılık ile yolumuza devam ederiz ve güçleniriz daha fazla. Aslında ödül töreninin ortaya çıkmasındaki fikir gibi bir öneme sahip. Partiler ve bu tarz birliktelikler hem bizlerin stres atmasına yardımcı oluyor hem de bir araya gelerek aslında hasret gidermeye yardımcı oluyor. E tabi gullümler, tatlı madiliklerle de şenleniyoruz, benliğimizi en özgür şekilde yaşayıp, hayatın olumsuzluklarından kendimizi soyutluyoruz bir şekilde de olsa.

 

Sivil toplumda harcanan emeklerin sonuçları uzun vadeli olabiliyor, fakat sürekli bir başarı muhasebesi de yapmak gerekebiliyor, bu da sanırım yıpratıcı bir deneyim. Belki bu açıdan da olumlu hikayeleri, kazanımları daha sık anlatmaya ihtiyaç var. Kötü haberleri paylaşmaya daha teşne olabiliyoruz, iyi haberler arada kaynayabiliyor. En son örneğin Queer Olympix yasaklandı ama yine de maçlar yapıldı, katılımcılar birarada kaldı.  Bu konuda sizin medyadan, sivil toplum destekçilerinden ve sosyal medya kullanıcılarından beklentiniz nedir? Şugariyet Ödülleri’nin amacına paralel olarak bu röportajı okuyanlar neler yapabilirler?

Çok doğru bir noktaya değindin. Kendimizi sürekli krizler içerisinde bulduğumuz için, olumlu hikayeleri, başarıları kaçırabiliyoruz. Ya da konuşmalarımızda çok da fazla değinmiyoruz. Queer Olympix’in yasaklanmasıyla beraber etkinliklerin biçimlerinin ve yerlerinin değişmesi aslında LGBTİ+ hareketinin doğası. Bir taraftan baskılansak da, baskıladıkları yerden bir kaç adım öteye gittiğimizde yeni çözümler üretebiliyoruz. Bu baskıların, yasakların yaratıcılığımıza çok büyük etkisinin olduğunu gözden kaçırmamak gerek. Ve sevgili Queer Olympix ekibi de bunun en son örneğini çok güzel bir şekilde göstermiş oldu. Sivil toplum destekçilerinden beklentilerimiz, kendilerine yakın gördükleri kurumlar hangileriyse, onlara üye olmaları, destek vermeleri, çalışmalarını takip etmeleri ve beğendikleri çalışmaları yaymaları aslında. Zira yaptıklarımız bu şekilde görünür olabiliyor. Medyaya ne demek gerekir çok emin değilim. Zira klasik medya tamamen LGBTİ+ karşıtı bir yerde konuşlanıyor ve yine geçmişe dönerek baktığımızda olumsuz haberlerin, nefret söylemlerinin tavan yaptığını görüyoruz. Nefret söylemlerinden uzaklaşmalarını temenni ediyorum. Sosyal medya kullanıcılarından da sivil toplum destekçilerinden beklediklerimizi bekliyoruz. Kendilerine yakın gördükleri kurumları takibe alsınlar ve çalışmalarını takip etsinler. Anlamadıklarını düşündükleri şeyler için kurumlarla iletişime geçsinler. 

Şugariyet Ödüllerinin amacına paralel olarak bu röportajı okuyanlar, ödüllerin kategorilerini görebiliyorlar. Önümüzdeki gün adaylar açıklanacak. Adayları tanımıyorlarsa kim olduklarına bakabilirler. Jüri harekete emek veren kişilerden oluşuyor. Şu anda devam eden de bir aday önerisi poll’u var. Aday göstermek istedikleri kişiler varsa, onları aday göstersinler. [Poll bu yazı hazırlanırken kapandı] Ve önümüzdeki yıl ve yıllar için, LGBTİ+ hareketini ve emek verenleri takip etmeye çalışsınlar. Devam eden yıllarda daha fazla kategori ile daha fazla kişinin emeğini görünür kılmamıza destek verebilirler. 

LGBTI+ hareketine ve sivil toplumuna katılmak, ya da bu alanda gönüllü olmak isteyip çekinen okuyucularımıza neler söylemek istersin? Bu yorucu yanlara rağmen seni sivil toplumda tutan şey nedir?

Çekinmemelerini söylemek isterim öncelikli olarak. Herhangi bir yerde gönüllü olmak için kendilerine neden sorusunu sormalarını isterim. Neden gönüllü olmak istiyorum? “Bir yerde okuduğum, gördüğüm nefret suçuna sinirlendim”, “ ‘Benim Çocuğum’u izledim, kendimi yeni keşfediyorum”, “bu benim meselem” vs. gibi nedenlerle gönüllü olmaya gelen kişilerin gönüllülük süreleri çok kısa oluyor ne yazık ki. O heyecan, üzüntü, keşif dönemleri bittiğinde gönüllülük de bitiyor ve ne kendilerine ne de gönüllü olmaya çalıştıkları kurumlara bir artıları oluyor. 

Gönüllü olmak isteyenler, neden sorusuna buldukları cevapla, kendilerine yakın gördükleri kurumlar ile iletişime geçsinler, oralarda gönüllü olarak katkı sağlayabilecekleri bir şey olup olmadığına baksınlar. Mümkünse, kuruma gidip oradaki çalışanlarla ve diğer gönüllülerle tanışsınlar, anlaşabilip anlaşamadıklarına baksınlar. Bunlar çok önemli şeyler, çünkü o kurum için çalışırken arkadaşlık ilişkileri gelişiyor, birlikte iş yapma yükümlülükleri gerçekleşiyor. Ve bunları anlaşamadığınız, ısınamadığınız insanlarla yapmaya çalıştığınızda işe yaramıyor asla. 

Beni bu alanda tutan şey her daim var olan idealistliğim galiba. Çocukluğumdan beri, haksız gördüğüm her şeyin peşine düşüp, hak yerini bulsun diye uğraşıyordum. Bu hastanede muayene sırası beklemekten tutun, ’99 depreminde su sırasına girmeye kadar (bunların çoğu olurken 9-10’lu yaşlarımdaydım). Lise döneminde, biraz merak biraz da çalışkanlığın birleşmesiyle, kendimi bir proje kapsamında yurtdışında buldum. Toplamda 6 gün. Döndükten sonra şunu farkettim, ne kadar şanslı olduğumu. Çünkü tüm emeklerim, çalışmalarım beni resmen ödüllendirmişti. Hayatımda ilk kez uçağa binmiştim ve yurt dışına çıkmıştım. Bundan sonrası benim için çorap söküğü gibi ilerledi. Kendimi gençlik çalışmalarının içinde buldum. Benim gibi gençlerin, yurtdışına çıkabilmelerinin yolunu aradım, yönlendirdim, anlatmaya çalıştım elimden geldiğince. “El vermek” denir ya bizde, el vermeye çalıştım, çok güzel insanlarla birlikte çalıştım ve çalışmaya da devam ediyorum. Velhasıl kelam, ben kendime “Neden?” sorusunu sorduğumda, benim erişebildiğime ilişkilendiğim kişiler de erişsin istedim ve bu kısım hala devam ediyor. Sivil toplum alanında çalışmak sizi motivasyonel ve manevi anlamda en çok tatmin eden yer olabiliyor gerçekten. Bunu yaparken de evet çok yorucu olabiliyor, ama biri size direkt ya da içinde olduğunuz yapıda gerçekleştirdiklerinizle birlikte dolaylı yoldan teşekkür ettiğinde, benim için herşey çözümlenmiş oluyor. Bu da beni sivil toplumda tutmaya devam ediyor 🙂

Son soru da azıcık neşeli olsun, biraz da magazinel 🙂  Töreni kim sunacak ve çeşitli sürprizler beklemeli miyiz? Töreni canlı izleyebilecek miyiz?

Bunların tamamı sürpriz, sevdiğimiz biri/leri sunacak. Ve bence güzel şeyler beklemelisiniz! 21 Eylül’ü not edin çünkü, gullümlü, eğlencesi bol, tatlı madiliği but bir akşam geçireceğiz. Canlı yayın için çalışmalarımız sürüyor. Bir aksilik olmazsa canlı olarak da gelemeyenler takip edebilecek 🙂

Eklemek istediğin bir şey var mı? Ya da duyurmak istediğin?

Konudan bağımsız olarak, SPoD olarak geçen aylarda başlattığımız bir destek kampanyamız var. O hala devam ediyor. SPoD’u ve çalışmalarını beğeniyorsanız, destekçimiz olun! SPoD çalışmalarına devam etmek istiyor, daha fazla insana erişebilmeyi ve hizmet sunmayı hedefliyor. Bunun için de herkesin desteğine ihtiyacımız var! Dayanışma çağrımızı da buradan görebilir ve destekçimiz olabilir okuyanlar da.

 

Röportaj: Zeynep Serinkaya 

“Şugariyet Awards”* is inviting activists to embrace each other

Recently SPoD announced the launch of the “Şugariyet Awards” which will be awarded to those who have dedicated themselves to LGBTI+ activism. The announcement underlined the concern that the LGBTI+ movement did not spare time to appreciate its own accomplishments as much as it does for self-criticism, while battling intense pressures. We interviewed SPoD’s General Coordinator Mustafa Sarıyılmaz on how LGBTI+ activism can fight burn-out syndrome with all the weight on its shoulders.  

 

How did the idea of the Şugariyet Awards come about? 

Our board member Cihan Hüroğlu came up with the idea. Cihan has contributed a lot to the  LGBTI+ movement, and in a meeting he said he’s been thinking about this for a while. It got us very excited and we said “let’s do it!”. The LGBTI+ movement is deeply impacted by the political context and lately people have been moving abroad, people have been distancing themselves from getting organized due to the increase in exposure and loss of safe spaces.

We all started doing a lot of madilik** for better or worse, so it got us thinking “Have we started to forget to appreciate each other?” 

 

Are the Şugariyet Awards going to be an annual event like the GMO Tomato Awards? Have you received any funding for the event? 

 

We definitely would like to have the Şugariyet Awards every year. Our aim is to make it regular like the GMO Tomato Awards, this time to thank those who contributed to the LGBTI+ movement and to render their efforts visible. Of course we found support and funding for the awards. We took the idea to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Turkey Branch, they loved the idea and wanted to support it. But certainly we are always open to more support. As far as we know, Şugariyet will be the only award ceremony of its kind in this country. What we want is to do it in Turkey this year and try to make it regional and hopefully international in the future. We want to support the LGBTI+ movement in our region, to increase collaboration and communication. 

 

The LGBTI+ movement in Turkey is standing strong against the pressures. Yet this resilience takes its toll on the psychological wellbeing of the activists, perhaps those outside the movement are not really cognizant. Can you tell us a little about how being an LGBTI+ activist can lead to burning out? How does SPoD deal with it? What is the significance of healing and reparative events for the sustainability of your activism?

 

 

I’d like to answer this question first as an individual and then as a spokesperson for the association. Being an activist in general is highly stressful in this part of the world. As someone who started working in the field of LGBTI+ issues in the issues of youth and refugees, I can say that each field has its own challenges. As people who want to be human and lead a humane life, it is quite exhausting to try to build a life and do activism in a context where this condition is not provided. Things are constantly going wrong, you receive bad news every day, perhaps moving from one city to another, such conditions can easily undermine your idealism and your motivation; therefore you are always trying to continue your activism, hoping a double edged knife will not hurt you. You try to find a way, if it works out, it works out, if not you lose your connection. You start moving away from everything that reminds you of your field of activism.

I can’t really claim that as SPoD we have a very effective way of dealing with the burn out. We are trying to learn and constantly discussing what these methods can be, how we can stand by each other. We want to learn the support methods necessary and to use them effectively. I must stress that when the people we provide help to reach us over the phone, e-mail or social media to thank us, it rekindles the fire in us. It gives us the opportunity to see the concrete outcomes of the work we do. These messages of gratitude increase our threshold of stress. The reparative and healing events allows us to rid ourselves of bad news, negativity and perhaps secondary traumas. These are in fact a great way of unwinding, which is invigorating.  

What you said is right, the LGBTI+ movement in Turkey is the strongest it has been. And so is the pressure perhaps. In this context, the platforms who are the agents of the LGBTI+ movement are communicating more, appreciating each other more, collaborating more and trying to make each other more visible. After the state of emergency we started to collaborate with many more CSOs. LGBTI+ movement is expanding and growing stronger each day. This organic growth empowers me and raises my threshold for burn out. 

LGBTI+ movement is as diverse as the letters in its acronym. It is imperative to have a constant dialogue within the movement, to avoid turning the diversity into separation. What do you think is the significance of events like award ceremonies and parties for staying together? 

That is the case indeed. The LGBTI+ movement has a wide range of diversity. I care about diversity turning into separation. Such separation does not always take place in a dialogue. I hope that [those with] differences can find themselves a place in dialogue and we can continue our way in a truly inclusive manner, we can grow stronger. Indeed this is the idea behind the award ceremony. Parties and similar gatherings helps us unwind and catch up with each other. And surely they are cheerful happenings where we can be ourselves and move away from negativity.

It is often the case that we see the outcome of the efforts spent working in civil society in the long run, yet we have to constantly question the level of our success, I guess this is also quite exhausting. Perhaps this is why we need to hear more on the positive stories, stories of success. Sometimes good news gets lost in bad news as we are inclined to share bad news more. For instance recently the Queer Olympix was banned yet the teams still went ahead with the games and stuck together. What do you expect from media, civil society supporters, and social media users regarding this issue? What can our readers do, with regards to what the Şugariyet Awards aim for? 

This is an important point. We tend to miss the positive stories and achievements as we are constantly in crisis. Or we don’t really talk about them much. It is in the nature of the LGBTI+ movement to come up with ideas like changing the events or relocating them, just like in the case of the ban against the Queer Olympix. Although we are under pressure, we are also able to produce solutions as we move one step beyond. We shouldn’t overlook the fact that these pressures have an important impact on our creativity. And our dear Queer Olympix crew showed a great example of that.  Our expectation from the supporters of civil society is that they become a member of whichever association they feel close to, to support, follow and spread their work. This is how you get our work to be visible. I don’t know what to say to the media, because the typical media outlet is completely anti-LGBTI+ and hate speech is rampant. I hope they grow distant from hate speech. We expect from social media users what we expect from civil society supporters. They should follow the associations they feel close to and get in touch about things they feel they don’t understand.

Regarding the Şugariyet Awards, the readers can follow the award selection process. They can see the categories and jury is to be announced, they can check out the nominees. And for the following years, they should try and follow the LGBTI+ movement and those working for the movement. They can help us render many more people’s efforts visible with more categories for awards.

 

What would you like to tell our readers who like to volunteer or work for the LGBTI+ movement and civil society but have reservations? What keeps you in civil society despite its stressful aspects? 

I would like to say, please do not hesitate. I would just tell them to question why they want to be a volunteer. Why do I want to become a volunteer? People become a volunteer thinking “I got upset with a hate crime I read somewhere”, “I watched ‘My Child’, I’m rediscovering myself”, “This matters to me”, but they do not last long in volunteering. When that moment of being upset or excited passes, their volunteering ends as well which is no good to them or the associations. 

Those who would like to become a volunteer should apply to an association they feel close to, with the answer they found to this question. If possible, they should meet the people working at the association and check if they get along. This is crucial as you become friends and have joint responsibilities while working together. It does not work when you are trying to do good with people you don’t get along with.

I guess what keeps me going is the idealism I have. I have always been working to right wrongs since I was a child. This is the case while waiting for my turn at the hospital queue or holding a place at the water queue after the earthquake in ‘99, when I was at the age of 9-10.  In my highschool years, I found myself abroad for a project, thanks to my curiosity and a bit of hard work. 6 days in total. When I came back I noticed how lucky I was because all my labour and work paid off. I got to fly in a plane for the first time in my life and I got to go abroad. Then, everything else followed. I found myself working in youth projects. I looked for ways to help young people like me to go abroad, I tried to guide them as much as I could. I tried to pass the torch, I worked with lovely people and I continue to. In sum, the reason why I started working is to help people reach the opportunities I reached. Working in civil society can be satisfying and motivating. Yes, it can be very exhausting but when someone thanks you or your association, all is resolved. And this is enough to keep me going 🙂

 

Let’s ask you something fun and a bit sensational 🙂 Who will be the host at the ceremony? Should we expect any surprises? Will the ceremony be aired live?

These are all going to be a surprise, the ceremony will be hosted by someone we love. And you should expect something beautiful! Save the date September 21st on your calendar, because there will be plenty of gullüm*** that night! We are working on live broadcasting, hopefully if all goes well we will be live and those who can’t be present will be able to follow it too! 

Is there anything you would like to add or announce? 

This is not related to the award ceremony, but I would like to remind people of our support campaign for SPoD. It still continues. If you like SPoD’s work, please become a supporter! SPoD wants to continue its work and aims to reach more people. In order to achieve that goal we need everyone’s support! You can see our call for solidarity and become a supporter through this link. 

Interview by Zeynep Serinkaya 

Translator’s note: 

*Şugariyet: In Lubunca (queer slang spoken in Turkey), şugariyet means jewels and/or a state of overall wellness, cuteness, pleasantness

**Madilik: Lubunca for trouble, problem, ill manners or bad intentions

***Gullüm: Lubunca for entertainment, fun, party or fanfare

Queer Olympix 2019 Banned by Kadıköy District Governorship

 

Queer Olympix 2019 was cancelled after the Kadıköy District Governorship banned the event. The organizers were given notice by the police, which arrived to Kalamış beach with a water cannon, according to KaosGL. The police told the organizers that they “should have notified the authorities” prior to the event. KaosGL asked Lawyer Hayriye Kara her opinions, who said : “There is no law article that requires such notification for sports events. Delivering such a notice on a Saturday morning deprives the organizers of the right to appeal against the ban, as the courts are closed on the weekend.”

Queer Olympix has published this message on social media shortly after the ban:

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Later in the day, Queer Olympix participants published a video. The full text of the video in English is as following:

We learned that if we do ‘long jump’, it threatens public health, public order, and public morality. If we jump too long and too far, if we insist on being in the areas where we are not welcomed, we can overcome heterosexism, god forbid!

The event Queer Olympix that we planned to organize for the third time has been banned by Kadıköy district governorate. We were informed about that when we arrived at the event area this morning (24 August Saturday). The preparation crew of 20 people in Kalamış was informed of the ban by riot control vehicles and riot police, the participants were followed until their homes, the decision was issued in the last minute while it would be done anytime throughout the year. All of these demonstrates one thing: These bans aim to function to oppress us not only physically but also psychologically, to ignore our voluntary effort, and to reject our existence. As Queer Olympix team and participants, we are aware of these aims and we want to inform everyone that we will continue defending our existence and visibility in the sports spaces against all these preventions. 

During the last two years, in Heybeliada and Kalamış, we organized this event with no problem together with many LGBTI+ and women participants from different cities and countries. The fact that such an event was banned in the last minute for the purposes of “protection of public health, public order, and public morality and prevention of crime” is a blatant example of intolerance towards us ‘even only when’ we want to do sports in public spaces. 

As women and LGBTI+ people, we care about being together while our living spaces were being limited, our fundamental rights -especially our right to live- are being violated. We are sad and angry about the fact that our event, which we made a great effort to realize throughout the year, was banned by a district governorate decision. Even though they banned our event, we know that the existence of LGBTI+ people and women in sports spaces anywhere in Turkey cannot be banned. Despite the arbitrary bans under cover of security, we are in the streets, in the schools, in the fields, and in the workspaces against binary system and heterosexism.

We said that “we will run if we cannot walk” to emphasize the importance of Queer Olympix after the prevention of Istanbul Pride March in 2015. Now it is obvious that what is prevented is not that we run or do race walking, we play football or volleyball, we do relay race or long jump, but that we insist on existing in public space as who we are. 

We cannot understand how sports can be banned on the grounds of public health; our understanding of public health includes securing our rights to live, providing equal opportunities to everyone to maintain their lives in a healthy way, and prevention of discriminating health practices which risk the lives of LGBTI+ people.

Instead of using the state resources to prevent the football games of LGBTI+ people, we invite the state to use their resources to prevent women killings and hate crimes. LGBTI+ people will continue existing in the fields as they exist in the fields.


Queer Olympix Organization Team and Participants:
-Atletik Dildoa
-Lolitop
-Muamma
-Olympikhalkedon
-Q-Bitches
-Queerpool
-Queer League Armenia
-Sportif Lezbon
-Queer Olympix Karması”

“We want Buse to live!”

The campaign to publicise the rights violations to which trans woman prisoner Buse is subjected has begun today with a press release at the Human Rights Association.

Source: “We want Buse to live!” (“Buse yaşasın istiyoruz!”), Kaos GL, https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28653&fbclid=IwAR05N640a22qEdstEfQlg_J8trmD4H7MSo6N01Uj3-6wIb0budISSzE5HN4, August 21, 2019

The campaign to publicise the rights violations to which trans woman prisoner Buse, who is currently kept in Tekirdağ F-type Men’s Prison no.2, is subjected has begun today (August 21) with a press release at the Human Rights Association.

Prior to the press release, Buse’s lawyer Eren Keskin stated that Buse harmed herself as a result of the violations of her rights in prison and she is currently in the Rehabilitation Center of Metris Prison.

After reminding [us] during the press release that Buse had been on hunger strike several times, struggling to initiate her gender affirmation process, it was stated: “The extent of this systematic torture became so unbearable for her that, on 27 July 2019, Buse performed an action by cutting off her genitals as a reaction to the Ministry of Justice’s arbitrary usurping of her right; her action was to escape from the prison that is her body and to prevent the surgical process from being interrupted and herself from being dragged to death. She was taken to the hospital.”

At the release, it was reminded that Buse needs to be saved from the prison of her body and she needs solidarity and power to do so: “We call on all LGBTI+s and those who are against LGBTI+ phobia to support the solidarity network we will establish.”

“We see that Buse’s body nor her psychology has now no power to withstand this torture.”

The full text of the press release is as follows:

“We, as Buse’s friends, know that this discriminatory process that Buse has been subjected to and has been fighting against for over 6 years is not the first example of the violence that trans women are exposed to both in prisons and in social life. It is necessary to see that this process, which has been extended by the Ministry of Justice for months, is the result of the whole policy of violence against trans women who are kept in isolation claiming security reasons, while [it is] their security [that] needs to be ensured. It is necessary to raise a voice against this cycle of violence. Transphobia and isolating conditions in prisons threaten and harm the psychological and physical integrity of trans people.”

“Last year Diren Coşkun and this year Esra Arıkan had to take various actions to make their voices heard because of the discrimination, violence and torture they were subjected to in prisons. Buse has been subjected to multiple discrimination, too, every moment she has spent in prison, and she has had to start hunger strikes during the 6 years she has fought for her right to start the gender affirmation process. Unfortunately, it is not difficult to guess that many trans people, neither whose names nor living conditions are known, have been subjected to various discrimination.”

“Buse has been in prison for 24 years. We want Buse to live. We see that neither Buse’s body nor her psychology now has power to withstand this torture that Buse has been fighting against for many years. The extent of this systematic torture became so unbearable for her that, on 27 July 2019, Buse performed an action by cutting off her genitals as a reaction to the Ministry of Justice’s arbitrary decision usurp her right; her action was to escape from the prison that is her body and to prevent the surgical process from being interrupted and herself from being dragged to death. She was taken to the hospital. She is better now and has been referred to Metris Prison.”

“Buse needs to be saved from the prison of her body so that she can live and she needs solidarity and power to do so. We call on all LGBTI+s and those who are against LGBTI+ phobia to support the solidarity network we will establish.”

“Buse is not the first to face these hardships; we will continue our fight to prevent trans women from being subjected to discrimination and ill-treatment in prisons. We ask you to spread this call to make the public aware of Buse and other trans prisoners.”

“You can follow the recent news via Twitter account @buseyasasin and the hashtag #BuseYaşasın (#LetBuseLive).