Identity

“Propagating anti-LGBTI+ policies is against the principle of secularism”

The Confederation of Public Employees’ Trade Unions (Kamu Emekçileri Sendikaları Konfederasyonu, KESK): “It is not possible to think that hostility towards women’s liberation and LGBTI+ individuals’ existence is separate from the dominant male-oriented, heterosexist viewpoint.”

Source: “Propagating  anti-LGBTI+ policies is against the principle of secularism” (LGBTİ+ düşmanı politikaları ülkenin en kılcal damarlarına kadar taşımak laiklik ilkesine aykırıdır) Kaos GL, 7th of May, 2020 https://www.kaosgl.org/haber/lgbti-dusmani-politikalari-ulkenin-en-kilcal-damarlarina-kadar-tasimak-laiklik-ilkesine-aykiridir?

In relation to the Friday khutbah of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, which pointed out LGBTI+ individuals and people with HIV as the target for hate, the Confederation of Public Employees’ Trade Unions (KESK) Executive Board has issued a statement. The board said: “It is not possible to think that hostility towards women’s liberation and LGBTI+ individuals existence is separate from the mentality which defines women only within the family and through men, seeing interpersonal relations only as the way of breeding and the reproduction of labour power and “nation” which is defined within a nationalist-conservative framework, and the dominant male-oriented, heterosexist viewpoint.”

The full statement of KESK is as follows:

“The statements of Ali Erbaş, the Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, targeting homosexuals, people with HIV, and extramarital relations in the Friday khutbah and making them the scapegoat for the pandemic, are clearly disgraceful and hateful towards a certain section of society and points them out as the target for the masses.”

“In the Article 10 of our Constitution, it is regulated that everyone is equal before the law regardless of language, race, colour, gender, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, sect and similar reasons. The khutbah of the Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs constitutes a crime of hate and discrimination in the Article 122 of the Criminal Code, as well as a violation of the principle of equality regulated in that article.”

“After the reactions to the crime committed by the Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, the point we have reached today has ceased to be only that of a hate crime by a civil servant, but also that the belief principles of a religion have been given more power than the constitution and law. Instead of acting against this crime, which was committed directly by the person holding the title as a head of a government institution, the government also supported the crime with the statement that “any attack towards the Directorate of Religious Affairs is deemed to be made against the state”; and investigations have been initiated against the bar associations whose duties are to protect and promote human rights; the bar associations have been accused of hostility towards Islam and targeted directly by the government. The worst part of this [the government’s] statement is the discourse stating that the state is now a theocratic state and identifying the state with the Directorate of Religious Affairs. This discourse is a clear violation of the principle of secularism protected by the second Article of our Constitution. ”

“The Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey lists the Articles that can not be replaced and about which even an offer to replace cannot be made. One of these articles is “The  Republic  of  Turkey  is  a  democratic, secular and social state governed by rule of law”. Neither the President nor the Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, who identify the state with themselves and the religious affairs, is above the Constitution. Every institution and establishment can be criticized and the Directorate of Religious Affairs is not above that. Presenting the criticisms towards the Directorate of Religious Affairs as hostility to Islam is to cover its ideological function, to lead hatred and hostility from a section of society against those who criticize the Directorate, and to cause new Çorum and Maraş massacres.”

“The Directorate of Religious Affairs today is clearly a fatwa institution that works to legitimize the policies of the government; it desires to be free from all kinds of criticism by being sanctified and to wear some kind of immunity armour. The Directorate of Religious Affairs, which is affiliated with the Palace [the government], sees itself above the laws and the constitution and plays an important role in the religionization of all social bonds and relations through the fatwas it gives, just as the President’s orders are seen as laws. ”

“On one hand, the Corona pandemic in Turkey, just like all over the whole world, has increased the effects of the economic crises that we deeply suffer from. Unemployment and poverty have spread, the people have been unable to bring bread home. The right to access healthcare and education has been commodified through the mentality of “receiving service according to your money” due to the marketization of public services. The health and future of the people are in danger due to the fact that they cannot reach these services, and monthly receiving 1168 TL is deemed to be enough for employees who have been forced to take unpaid leave. On the other hand, the Directorate of Religious Affairs violates the rights of the people with its budget of 11,5 billion TL, which exceeds the budgets of the 8 other ministries and several executive institutions. With its luxury spending of 2,6 million TL for luxury cars and 1,8 million TL for the fuels of these cars over the last 3 years and with its donation campaigns promising acceptance into heaven, it works as an ideological tool in order to spread illegal, misogynist, anti-child, and anti-LGBTI+, but pro-capitalist policies and to make these policies be accepted by society without any reaction. 

“How is this happening?

“Through the khutbahs at the mosques by the mufti’s office, saying that strikes are not permissible in the religion and that “any act of decreasing the profit and profitability shall cause the employee to hold a serious religious responsibility”, after the employees were fired because they were members of the labour unions,

By saying that the massacre in Soma was fate and natural and prevented the people to claim their rights,

By obliging the contribution to the donation campaigns under the name of the fight against the pandemic and asking the receipts for the donations to be sent to the mufti offices,

By giving fatwas saying that 9-year-old girls and 12-year-old boys can get married,

By saying that the lust a father feels for his own child is not illicit by the religion, but the shaking hands with women is a sin,

By writing in the Encyclopaedia Islam, which they issued themselves, that stepfathers can have [sexual] relationship with young girls,

By stating that feminism is immorality and recommending women “to look for the wrong in themselves…”

“The Directorate of Religious Affairs functions as an ideological tool for AKP to reshape society with the religious rules of one sect through its giant budget consisting of the taxes collected from the public by violating the Constitution’s Article 136 which determines its duties and responsibilities, as well as the principle of secularism. It is not possible to think that hostility towards women’s liberation and LGBTI+s existence is separate from the mentality which defines women only within the family and through men, seeing interpersonal relations only as the way of breeding and the reproduction of labour power and “nation” which is defined within a nationalist-conservative framework, and the dominant male-oriented, heterosexist viewpoint.”

“The state must be neutral and equidistant to all religions. The ties that make up the society cannot be based on a religious understanding of the sovereignty of a single sect. The ties that make up the society can be defined by a secular and rational standpoint based on equality and the peaceful coexistence of differences. This is the requirement of the principle of secularism, and only in this way can freedom of belief be guaranteed.”

“LGBTI+ individuals exist, women exist; they have the right to live freely, as equal citizens of this society. Being completely distant to science, seeing the pandemic as a divine punishment, and functioning to support AKP’s pro-capitalist policies which are hostile to labour, women, children, and LGBTI+ individuals, to spread them throughout the country, to prevent the reactions about them, and to legitimize them, the Directorate of Religious Affairs violates the principle of secularism and is one of the biggest obstacles to equal citizenship and basic rights and freedoms.”

“We strongly condemn the attacks on Ankara and Diyarbakır Bar associations which have made statements on the government’s attitude clearly violating the principle of secularism, the rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary, which are protected by the Constitution, in order to fulfil the requirements of the secular and social state, to protect and improve human rights and freedoms. We do not accept that the law is being made a threat and an intimidation tool for those who criticize AKP policies and the Palace regime and for those who do not think the same way as the government. The government, which cannot tolerate any view and criticism other than itself, must stop using law as a stick to discipline the organized parts of the society.”

“We call on all the state institutions and administrators, especially the government, to comply with the constitution and international agreements, and to respect the rule of law. We will support the struggle to establish a secular, democratic, rule of law that respects human rights, and will fight against the governing mentality that is based on discrimination, hatred, grudge and enmity among different parts of the society, and which seeks to religionise all social relations.”

“Targeting and investigating organizations that criticize hate speech against LGBTI+ must come to an end”

Here is the press statement Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders – Turkey* has written following the homophobic Friday sermon of the Director of Religious Affairs and the prosecution of his critics.  da-03

 

“In days when Turkey and the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing extraordinary times with thousands of people are losing their lives every day. Amid such crisis, the respect for human rights, the work of rights defenders and their existence are of utmost importance in terms of facilitating solidarity among citizens.

The Directorate of Religious Affairs had used discriminatory statements against LGBTI+ and those who are HIV positive during its Friday Sermon on April 24, 2020. The Directorate clearly conducted hate speech and targeted the individuals and groups associated. At a time when society as a whole is under risk of the pandemic, the main duty of the state respecting the rule of law is to protect the rights of all its citizens.

The Directorate of Religious Affairs is targeting a certain sector of the society while violating the Constitution, laws and international conventions that Turkey is signatory to. This is unacceptable. Moreover, targeting and investigating rights organizations that condemn the statements which undermine basic human rights and the rule of law is a clear manifestation of the accelerating pressure and harassment on the civil space in the last couple of years in Turkey. The main precaution should be fighting against hate speech and discrimination, not judicial and administrative harassment against those who remind public institutions of their responsibilities. It is against the rule of law that the branches of judiciary that are defined impartial did not take action after state officials targeted those who criticized these discriminative and hostile statements.

Turkish Constitution’s Article 136 defines the scope of the duty of the Directorate of Religious Affairs clearly. According to this clause; “Directorate of Religious Affairs, within the general governance and under the principles of secularism, carry out its duties defined within the specific law by staying out of all political views and thoughts and by aiming for national solidarity and integration.”

It is clear that the sermon in question does not comply with the abovementioned framework of the Directorate’s duties.

After the sermon on April 24, 2020, it was expected that the Ministry of Religious Affairs would be reminded of the scope of its duty and an investigation would be launched against those who do not comply with it. Instead, an investigation was launched against bar associations, lawyers and citizens who condemned the statement targeting the LGBTI+ with false information and hate speech. This attitude covers up the actual crime and its investigation while providing an environment that encourages hate speech.

Ankara and Diyarbakir Bar Associations condemned the discriminating statement that harbored hate speech. We, the rights defenders, see the investigations launched against Ankara and Diyarbakir Bar Associations for “insulting the religious values of a section of a society” per Turkish Penal Code’s Article 216/3 as a new cycle of increased attacks against human rights defenders.

The Council of Europe’s Istanbul Agreement, which Turkey is a signatory, prohibits discrimination against sexual orientation and sexual identity under its Article 3. Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights, as the decision-making body of European Convention of Human Rights, has ruled in the past that it prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The raison d’être of human rights organizations is to stand up against the targeting of citizens based on their sexual orientations and against policies and statements that criminalize them and to struggle against these attitudes.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTI+ organizations and rights defenders that are threatened and face investigations. We demand an immediate halt on targeting the citizens and an end on these unlawful investigations.  We base our demands first and foremost on the Turkish Constitution and on the international agreements that Turkey is a signatory of.

As human rights defenders, we are worried about the social impacts of the above mentioned sermon because we have repeatedly observed how hate speech conducted by state officials transition into hateful practices and moreover into hate crimes which heavily ended with impunity. The tradition of not launching an administrative or judicial investigation against officials making statements with hate speech followed suit after the aforementioned sermon. In the light of impunity and the public concerns, rights organizations shared their statements and criticism with the public and exercised their responsibility of correcting false information dispersed by the state.

The mentality of hatred that identifies a section of the society with sickness will make the struggle against the pandemic unsuccessful and ineffective when we are losing tens of people daily. In addition to the hardship we are going through, in order for the hate speeches to end targeting LGBTI+ rights defenders and organizations, an investigation should be initiated against those individuals and institutions.  Scientific and correct information within the frame of human rights law should be shared with the public immediately.”

Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders – Turkey

Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, Citizens’ Assembly Turkey, Civic Space Studies Association,Civil Rights Defenders, Foundation for Society and Legal StudiesHuman Rights Association İstanbul Branch, Human Rights Agenda Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Kaos GL, Life Memory Freedom Association, Media and Law Studies Association, SPoD LGBTI+, Punto24 Association for Independent Journalism, Research Institute on Turkey, Truth Justice Memory Center, Turkish-German Forum of Culture

 

*Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders – Turkey is a network of human rights organisations which insists that defending human rights is a universal right. The Network is committed to strengthen solidarity and communication among its members and to challenge all forms of repression and harassment against human rights defenders.

 

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

 

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

Article Translated from Yeni Akit: Scandalous Support to Perverts from Council of State.

Translator’s note: The following article contains offensive and violent language.

Source: “Scandalous Support to Perverts from Council of State”, (Danıştay’dan sapkınlara skandal destek), yeniakit.com.tr, July 19, 2019, https://m.yeniakit.com.tr/haber/danistaydan-sapkinlara-skandal-destek-849279.html

The Council of State’s 10th Chamber showed scandalous support to perverted homosexuals. The decision of a lawsuit Emirhan Deniz Celebi, a homosexual, filed against Cerrahpaşa for failing to perform ‘gender reassignment surgery’ in 2017, pleased perverts.

Imposing their illegitimate forms of relationships on the public by using the slogan, ‘Get used to it, we are everywhere,’ immoral homosexuals received unexpected support. The Council of State found the lawsuit valid, filed by Emirhan Deniz Çelebi, a perverted homosexual with an immoral lifestyle, against Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine Hospital for failing to perform ‘gender reassignment surgery.’ The 10th Chamber of the Council of State found the ‘valid’ reasons given by Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine Hospital for not performing gender reassignment surgeries of perverts ‘invalid.’ Upon the Council of State’s decision, the operations will now be performed. The hospital was not performing the operations due to ‘priority given to emergency patients’ and ‘regard for the privacy of female patients.’

Perverts will be crowding public hospitals

Using dirty money from the European Union, German associations and Soros, perverted LGBTI homosexuals are using every possible way to tear down our country’s basic moral principles. Putting up banners that say ‘Ramadan cannot interfere with Şaban and Recep’s love’ and using the slogan ‘Get used to it, we are everywhere’ during the holy month of Ramadan, homosexuals are imposing their perversion on the public, and they shamelessly want to have their gender reassignment surgeries in public hospitals that are paid for with people’s taxes. The case has been continuing between the homosexual Emirhan Deniz Çelebi and Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine Hospital since 2017. The decision puts forth the severity of the situation.

In an academic council meeting, Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine had made the decision to not perform gender reassignment surgeries in order to ‘protect the privacy of female patients’ and ‘give priority to emergency patients,’ but the implementation has been stopped by the Council of State’s incomprehensible decision. Cerrahpaşa Hospital had appealed Istanbul 10th Administrative Court’s ‘gender reassignment surgery is mandatory’ decision with valid reasons. The Council of State’s 10th Chamber turned down the appeal saying ‘there is no need for an appeal.’ With the scandalous case setting a precedent, homosexual perverts have now gained the right to have gender reassignment surgeries at any hospital.

A homosexual teacher was also acquitted

The Council of State’s 12th Chamber had found the dismissal of a homosexual teacher unlawful. The 2015 decision pointed to the fact that a teacher could not be dismissed from their profession based on their personal life.

Akit continues its attempts at defaming LGBTI+ achievements

LGBTI+ rights advocates continue their battles at court for the recognition of their right to gender transition procedures. As Emirhan Çelebi wrote in his recent article on his battle against Cerrahpaşa Training Hospital’s unlawful practices. In court Çelebi challenged the arbitrary denial of hysterectomy and oophorectomy surgeries to trans men. Çelebi and his attorneys won the case against the hospital, after the hospital administration’s appeal to Council of State.

This pursuit of justice seems to have upset the extreme rightwing daily Akit, who have repeatedly targeted LGBTI+ activists, with troubling examples of hate speech. Trans individuals in Turkey have the right to gender affirmation surgeries and are indeed forced to do so in order to have their gender recognized in their ID cards. Such mandatory surgery is in itself a violation of the rights of trans individuals, another realm of struggle for trans activists. The legal battle in this case was to ensure that the hospital follows the law.  Yet, Akit’s slur-ridden news article attempts to turn this struggle on its head, suggesting that this achievement is a travesty of justice, that the hospital’s “righteous” appeal was “tripped up” by the Council of State.

While the article lumps all LGBTI+ individuals under the all too familiar label “pervert”, it is completely in denial of any reality, as it announces that the trans individuals now have the right to get their surgeries done in any hospital of their choosing. The reality is that the trans individuals already have the right (and indeed, the obligation) to have a gender affirmation surgery in certain training hospitals. This is by no means an example of the lack of information, it is a further attempt to alarm the “public” and to mobilize transphobia (and homophobia, due to confusion of terms in the article) against the LGBTI+ rights advocates exercising their rights as citizens. 

Akit and other transphobic media outlets might be in denial, but the truth is trans citizens exist, out or not they are everywhere, they are not going anywhere and will continue the battle for their fundamental rights. We once more wholeheartedly celebrate Çelebi and all the achievements of trans individuals which remain unknown to us, in their battle for survival and for a decent life. 

 

Note: We choose to spare our readers the triggering affects of the hate speech, and we paraphrase its main points instead of translating the article in its original language. However, you can follow this link if you wish to read our translation of the article. Please be aware that it involves violent and offensive language.

A Review of Pride Across Turkey: Defiance and Resilience

The horizon looks bright in some regions of Turkey for future LGBTI+ Pride weeks and marches. New opportunities have emerged for Turkish LGBTI+ rights associations and activists to gain concessions from the police and the judiciary. This year’s pride events highlighted the strength, capacity and resilience of rights defenders, even in a hostile political environment. 

LGBTI+ Pride weeks took place across Turkey, despite state repression and bans on public gatherings. From Istanbul to Mersin, LGBTI+ rights organisations and individual activists marked Pride across the country with defiance in celebration of their identities. Chants echoed across the country with the cries, “we are here, we are queer” and “where are you my love? / I am here my love”.

In many cities across Turkey activists and lawyers were able to win concessions from the police and judiciary making some of this year’s pride events the largest in years. However, in Gaziantep, a city in southeastern Turkey, no improvements were seen in recent years for LGBTI+ rights activists and the situation has even deteriorated since the official lifting of the State of Emergency.

In this article we will look at many of the Pride celebrations across Turkey, reporting the challenges as well as the successes of this year. Looking at the accomplishments of activists can open up new opportunities for Prides in the future. 

Istanbul

The theme of this year’s Pride, EKONOMİ NE AYOL? (‘Economy? What’s that?’), focused on rising inflation in Turkey and the vulnerable position of LGBTI+ individuals in an economic crisis.

Between June 24-30 art exhibitions, picnics, film screenings, workshops and parties took place in 29 venues across the city. The variety of events set an inclusive atmosphere for people of all identities, with an emphasis on inclusion and peace building. 

Early in the week Istanbul Pride Week Committee met with the Governor, who declined their request to hold Pride Walk in Taksim and stated that the LGBTI+ community was regarded as a “socially dubious group”. The Governor also declined a petition to have the Pride march celebrated in Bakırköy, another part of the city designated for demonstrations but less politically symbolic than Taksim.

On Sunday, June 30 without state permission, people were to meet in Taksim for the Pride Walk. Heavy police presence around Taksim and along Istiklal Avenue prevented people meeting on Taksim Square. However, the police consented to negotiate with some of the organisers, allowing the Pride to take place until 17:30 on Mis Sokak, a street near Taksim famous for its LGBTI+ friendly bars. A press statement was read there to sounds of hundreds of people cheering. One quote from the press statement was,

“We do not give up our lives, our solidarity, nor our organized struggle! We are here, get used to it, we are not going.”

At almost exactly 17:30 the police marched down Mis Sokak spraying the few people who remained with tear gas, rubber bullets and chasing them with dogs. A bar on Mis Sokak where people were continuing to celebrate was also sprayed with tear gas. Before the police attack, people were able to meet in security for over an hour. The police did not use water cannons as they had in previous years and some people taking part in the celebrations described the police as more restrained than in previous years. 

As the Pride march was chased from Mis Sokak activists kept meeting in various neighborhoods of the central district of Beyoğlu, reading press statements and celebrating before eventually being dispersed again by the police. The defiance of the continual celebrations was in line with  the message of Pride: we are here, we are everywhere.

Metehan Ozkan from LISTAG, an association which works with the parents of LGBTI+ individuals described this year’s Pride: “We had parents from Ankara, Izmir and Antalya parents groups, we had new members who had a chance to experience Pride for the first time with their children. Though the Pride was ‘limited’ it was very emotional for them.”

Mustafa Sarıyılmaz from SPoD, an Istanbul-based association focusing on social and psychological support for LGBTI+ individuals, said:

“Police was less brutal than last year. I might easily comment that what we had this year was a small gathering that we all missed and longed for a very long time. And, we now have our hope that we might be able to have our parade back in two year’s time. Because, these are all the signs that the movement in Turkey is getting stronger day by day. We have developed a huge solidarity between us now, which wasn’t the case before.”

That night two parties closed the Istanbul Pride, one was put on by Gzone Mag magazine involving trans and drag performers, the other event was hosted by local LGBTI+ DJs. 

During the Istanbul Pride, six people were detained by police.

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Ankara

An indefinite blanket ban against all LGBTI+ events was declared in the capital Ankara under the state of emergency on November 2017. Kaos GL made an appeal which the 12th Administrative Court used to re-examine the ban and ruled that the city governor did not have the legal power to issue bans of that kind. Although the ban was officially lifted, in practice it continued to be in effect.

On May 10, students at the Middle Eastern Technical University staged a Pride celebration despite the rectorate forbidding it. The celebrations were also dispersed by the police using tear gas and rubber bullets. Twenty-five people were detained including an academic working at the university. In reaction students released a press statement calling for “a ban on the bans”. A party was also held afterwards by the students involving drag performances, with the names of those arrested read aloud and applauded.

Some of these arrested students have subsequently had their student loans and assistance revoked on the recommendation of the Security Directorate to the Credits and Dorms Authority. 

Izmir

The 7th İzmir Pride Week planned for June 17-23 was banned on June 14 by the Governorship of Izmir. However, an appeal by the association Genç LGBTİ+ (LGBTI+ Youth) repealed the ban allowing many of the planned events to take place. In the decision to prevent a ban on some of the Pride activities, one judge voted in favor of enforcing the ban and two votes were for the bans repeal. One of those two votes repealing the ban, commented that this decision should be applied to all Pride activities in İzmir.

However, the ban was not fully lifted for the Pride march nor for two events entitled “Bondage Workshop” and “Sex Toy Workshop”. Activists persisted in marching and negotiated with the police, winning the concession to read a press statement on Kıbrıs Şehitleri Avenue in the center of Izmir. However, after the press statement 17 activists were detained. 

Gaziantep 

In Gaziantep  a blanket ban for 20 days on LGBTI+ events prevented Pride events from taking place. During Pride week activists were prevented from putting up a Pride rainbow flag in Çınarlı Park and police prevented activists reading a press statement at Yeşilsu Square. Instead, the Human Rights Association, IHD (Insan Hakları Derneği) hosted a Pride event to read the Pride’s press release:

“As long as you view our existence as a threat, we continue to say, ‘Every step of ours is a Pride March.’

“If it is your tradition to declare those who strive for an honorable and just life immoral and terrorists to cover up your “sins,” it is our tradition to not stop speaking, not stop and not obey.

“We know that what fuels your aggression is our power. We know in our struggle since the 1980s that you are trying to exploit the beauty of our togetherness.”

ZeugMadi Lgbt, an Antep based LGBTI+ Rights association told LGBTI+ News Turkey that for them there was no improvement in how Prides were experienced in previous years. 

“In fact, the State of Emergency is still not over in Turkey. As LGBTI+ individuals we are still under martial law. Both socially and by the law. Harassment, incidents of rape, sexism, homophobia, transphobic rhetorics have all increased after the formal ending of the State of Emergency.”

Mersin

Despite a blanket ban on LGBTI+ events put into effect on June 25, the Mersin Pride still took place. Activists met in workshops and marched in small group unveiling Trans and LGBTI+ Pride flags in a few select spots across the city. Again, the defiance and determination of activists meant that few a short time in different parts of the city, LGBTI+ individuals were more visible. 

Municipalities’ Official Support

From across Turkey, municipalities controlled by the main opposition party, CHP sent out greetings and support to Pride over social media. This occurred in the past but a larger number of municipalities sent out posts  this year. 

On this topic Mustafa Sarıyılmaz from SPoD reported to LGBTI+ News Turkey that 

“Thirty-five municipalities around the country celebrated Pride over Twitter, it seems the visibility of queer community in Turkey has grown, in a positive way. Well, on the other hand, …. the director of religious affairs made all imams around Turkey curse LGBTI+’s in Friday prayers. Yet, we’re hopeful.”

 

Words by George Winter

Photos by Bradley Secker in the İstanbul Pride 

29/07/2019 Correction: The article had previously stated that a Pride after party was put on by GQ magazine, this was incorrect. Gzone Mag put the party on.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daha fazlası için Alan Savunmasının sitesini ziyaret edebilirsiniz.

Röportaj: Zeynep Serinkaya

Trans women were attacked in Antep, the police took the attacked women into custody

In a park in Antep, trans women were attacked. The police officers responded to the incident by arresting the women who were attacked. The police also harassed the women during custody, saying “how can a man be girly?”. After the attack, tape was attached over the park bench. We talked to İffet, who is one of the people taken into custody, about the event.

Source: Trans women were attacked in Antep, the police took the women into custody (Antep’te trans kadınlar saldırıya uğradı, polis kadınları gözaltına aldı), Yusuf Gülsevgi, Kaos GL, https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28341&fbclid=IwAR30FUuLdHFlsaFGv01ZNgU28t0saYKoMS4Kf3M-dxIENfS0IL12WWwlBiY, June 18, 2019

Can you introduce yourself to us briefly?

Of course. I am İffet, I am a 31 years-old transvestite. I work as a sex worker for a living. The moment when I started transitioning, people turned me into a vampire. In other words; I am home during the day time and on the streets during the night time. I live like a vampire. That is all.

You were attacked in Çınarlı Park. How did it happen?

It happened like this: I go to the park with the girls almost every night to find a client. There was an argy-bargy situation two days ago. Some people attacked one of our friends. The police officers arrived immediately. They took all of us into custody and released us the next day. When we came back to the park, we realized that they had covered the benches with tape and a police car was standing by.

You said that you were taken into custody, how did the police officers treat you there? Were you harassed physically or psychologically?

I swear you are nuts. There is a transvestite and a police officer, how can the officer stay silent in this situation? (Laughs) Not physically, but I was harassed verbally.

What did they say?

“What’s all this fuss in the middle of the night? You were the last thing we needed tonight. How can a man be girly?” they said.

You mentioned about tape being tied up to the benches…

To me, this means that they don’t want us. In other words, this means that a battle has started. I was born a fighter. I have always fought with people and I still live. And I will fight to win this battle.

Right after all this, the manager of the teachers’ lodge close to the park announced that LGBTI+s cannot enter the public coffee house of the lodge. What do you think about this decision?

There is a human rights violation here. The manager of the teachers’ lodge paves the way for discrimination through this decision, gives hatred a green light. What kind of morality is this, invading our living spaces?

What is your message about all the happenings?

I am not the first transvestite, nor will I be the last one. We have existed throughout history and we will exist in the future, too.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by Lukka Alp Akarçay for LGBTI News Turkey

Not Your Turkish Delight! A compilation against hate and violence

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– How did you cover the cost of the album?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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