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