LGBTI Activism

LGBTI rights movement in Turkey

Kaos GL: LGBTI billboards on the streets of Cyprus once more!

LGBTI awareness billboards are once more on the streets of North Cyprus after the attacks of last year!

kuirkibrispanolar.jpg

Source: Kaos GL, “Kıbrıs’ta bir kez daha LGBTİ billboardları sokakta!” http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24490 September 1, 2017

The LGBTI awareness billboard campaign we launched last year in North Cyprus was attacked. Kuir Kıbrıs (Queer Cyprus) Association filled the streets once more this year with billboards for equality and freedom in spite of the attacks.

The new billboard campaign prepared within the scope of “Unspoken Project” (“Konuşulmayan Projesi”) was launched in order to call attention to the need for everyone to live as a human, without being othered or discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The billboards bear explanations of sexual orientation and gender identities such as “lesbian”, “gay”, “heterosexual”, “transsexual” and “intersex”.

Transformation of prejudices such as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia is among the objectives of the campaign.

Attacks against last year’s campaign

Last year in November,  billboards which read “Brother Kamil, I’m lesbian” and “Auntie Mediha, I’m gay” were placed around Girne, Mağusa, Lefkoşa, İskele, Lefke ve Karpaz. However, the LGBTI awareness billboards  in the cities in North Cyprus were first attacked and then taken down by the municipality.

What’s the Unspoken/Konuşulamayan Project?

“Unspoken: Creating Dialogue on LGBTI Rights in the Turkish Cypriot Community” (“Konuşulmayan: Kıbrıs Türk Toplumunda LGBTİ Haklarıyla İlgili Diyaloğu Güçlendirmek Projesi”) aims to increase awareness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people in key sectors such as media, education, law and health; in order to struggle against the discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, to create social change and [improve] public opinion and to ameliorate media representation in Turkish Cypriot communities.

Kuir Kıbrıs Association is a civil society movement conducting work struggling against discrimination agaınst sexuality, sexual expression, sexual orientation and gender identity. Kuir Kıbrıs actively works to support LGBTI rights in various fields such as law, education and psychology.

BIANET: LGBTI Activist Coşkun Detained on Remand Stays in Solitary Cell

Source: BIANET, Diyarbakır – BIA News Desk, http://bianet.org/english/lgbti/189192-lgbti-activist-diren-coskun-stays-in-solitary-cell, 17 August 2017.

Being arrested over “illegal organization membership”, Keskesor activist Diren Coşkun has been sent to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison. Coşkun has been staying in a solitary cell since she refused to stay with men.

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Keskesor LGBTI has announced that LGBTI Amed activist Diren Coşkun has been sent to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison by the prison administration who ignore Coşkun’s gender identity.

Coşkun was arrested during an ID check at the Diyarbakır Courthouse where she went to get password for E-devlet (E-government) on August 14 after being told that there was a definitive judgement against her on charges of “being a member of an illegal organization” and “propagandizing for an illegal organization”.

Issuing a statement about Diren Coşkun, Keskesor LGBTI said “We’ve learned that the Supreme Court upheld the decision during her ID check at the courthouse. She now stays in a solitary cell in Diyarbakır Type D Prison”.

“First of all, we have to say that she was subjected to verbal and physical harassment by the gendarmerie while she was being taken to prison. On the other hand, the attitude of the guards and executions towards Diren is very nice. They address Diren as ‘Mrs. Diren’”, the statement added.

Coşkun was first sent to Diyarbakır Type E Closed Women’s Prison, then she was transferred to Diyarbakır Type D Closed Prison by the prison administration. Not willing to stay in the same ward as men, Coşkun stays in a solitary cell.

Her cats stay with her friends

Coşkun had made a call for her two cats to be taken care of. According to the information we obtained from Coşkun’s friends, the treatment for the sick one continues whereas the other one stays with a friend of Coşkun. (EA/TK)

Evrensel: Gender and LGBTIs in Alevism*

Source: Ali Kenanoğlu, “Alevilikte Cinisyet ve LGBTI’ler,” Evrensel, 21 July, 2017 https://www.evrensel.net/yazi/79533/alevilikte-cinsiyet-ve-lgbtiler

In prevalent faiths or religions with holy books, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the attitude towards individuals with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) sexual identity is very rigid.

Every year the biggest threats against the LGBTIs who want to organize a Pride March come from the “nationalist Muslims.” As a matter of fact, in Turkey, nationalism, i.e. Turkism, and Islam are not thought of as separate things. Nationalism in Turkey receives acceptance as long as it is united with Sunni Islam. So much so that Turkmen Alevis were not accepted as Turks before the 1980s, and Christian Gagauz Turks were deported in the early years of the republic.

Despite some different approaches to LGBTIs by certain Muslims, such as the Anticapitalist Muslims going against Semawi religions’ approach, the general perception and definition is “pervert, perverted.” Considering these definitions, every mistreatment and attack against LGBTIs and even massacres are seen acceptable and in fact considered as “they deserve it.”

It’s not possible for LGBTI members of the Semawi community to worship without hiding their identity. Because, based on past experience, we all know that they have no safety in the mosque they’ll enter.

In Alevism, however, there is no gender discrimination. In the Alevi mass worship ritual, cem [pronounced as jam — Trans.], everyone is referred to as “Can [or jaan, meaning “life” or “the essence which gives one life” but also used as a name with the extended meaning “dear” –Trans.], Cem Saints” which are gender-free descriptions. There is no gender discrimination in Alevism, however, individuals who fail to comprehend Alevism, make gender discrimination and LGBTI discrimination as they do in other faiths.

Despite many examples, there are still those who couldn’t grasp, understand, comprehend Alevism, those even arguing that women cannot take a “post” [a seat reserved for a high ranking leader in Alevi hierarchy –Trans.] and lead the cem.

A couple of days ago, Alevis Union Federation in Germany made one of the most important statements of recent years and presented Alevis’ approach to jaans with LGBTI sexual identity which was not declared to public until now probably because there was no occasion.

The statement with the title “the ka’bah of our belief is human, its pilgrim is jaan” included the following sentences; “Our association, not only disregards all the common prejudices against LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex) individuals but also does not consider the unwarranted statements based on these prejudices worth discussing. We refuse all the approaches, advocated by conservative fractions starting with the AKP, which make representation of homosexuals in public space difficult. As an association, we do not only fight against the marginalization of the Alevi community. Our belief that brings forth the concept of “Jaan,” instead of the concept of congregation that exists in panislamist societies, rejects every kind of discrimination. The Alevi community whose ka’bah is human, sees everything as a reflection of Haq [Allah, the fair and noble one — Trans.]. Our teaching does not discriminate based on language, religion, nationality, color, gender. Humanity is the most sacred value.

We defend a social order that delivers all the rights extorted from all individuals starting from women, far from male-dominant understanding and rest on the ideal of equality amongst genders.

In addition, we demand the impunity and guarantee of private lives, and an end to social grudge and hatred. At this point, our ground is respecting human rights including all the members of society.”

The approach in Alevism towards gender identities is best summed up by the Sovereign Haji Bektash Veli’s following words:
“In the language of friendly conversation, one does not ask about male-female,
Everything Haq created is in its proper place,
In our view there is no female-male difference,
Flaw and lack is in your view.”

With love…

*Alevism is a mystical branch of Islam whose adherents follow the teachings of Caliph Ali.

KaosGL: “Sedef Çakmak: The rainbow flag at the March for Justice gives us hope”

The leader of the main opposition party CHP in Turkey led a 25-day, 450 km “March for Justice” from the country’s capital to Istanbul to protest the imprisonment of a party lawmaker. The march, joined by tens of thousands, soon grew to a wider anti-government protest demanding justice. The CHP Beşiktaş Municipality Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak, the first lesbian to be elected in Turkey, evaluated the March for Justice from the perspective of the LGBTI Movement for KaosGL.Org.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Sedef Çakmak: Adalet Yürüyüşü’ndeki gökkuşağı bayrağı umut veriyor,” KaosGL, July 10, 2017 http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24168

The March for Justice led by CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu set off on June 15 from Ankara Güvenpark and finished with the Justice Meeting on July 9 in Istanbul. CHP Beşiktaş Municipality Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak evaluated the 24-day long Justice March from the perspective of the LGBTI movement for KaosGL.org. Çakmak suggests that both the march and the increasing role of LGBTIs in policy-making within CHP is promising.

“LGBTI+s have been struggling for justice for years”

The March for Justice, led by CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu brought together people from all walks of life, who believe in the rule of law and who believe that the independence of the judiciary is threatened.

The demands articulated by Kılıçdaroğlu during the rally yesterday show that the search for justice is also a search for democracy. This, in turn, reflects the effort to bring together the masses which it is believed can never stand together. Yet democracy is an issue which cannot be left to the hands of the politicians. At this critical point in this country, all of us need to do our share for democracy and liberties. The best case in hand is perhaps LGBTI+s present in every sector of society. They have been continuing this struggle merely with their existence for years.

Since 2009, thanks to the selfless work of the LGBTI+ movement and the individual efforts of some of the MPs, the LGBTI+ individuals’ search for justice and equality has come to be voiced more and more within the CHP. Our candidacy for city council for CHP during 2014 local elections and afterwards our work in municipalities quickly led to awareness within the party. As such, the LGBTI+ movement emerged as a political actor during the 2015 general elections.

“There were people carrying the rainbow flag on their bags at the March for Justice against the government’s hunt for rainbows after banning Istiklal Avenue for Pride Walk”

The CHP’s increasing advocacy against the discrimination, pressure and inequality LGBTI+ individuals are subjected to is of course promising, but this can not be a one way relationship. As citizens, we need to be more present in the political parties as well as to continue articulating our rights. There were people carrying the rainbow flag on their bags and waving their rainbow umbrellas freely at the Justice March against the government’s hunt for rainbows after banning İstiklal for Pride Walk.

“It gives me hope that the CHP gives more place to LGBTI+ individuals”

Surely there are criticisms and prejudices against CHP, but the criticism should not overshadow the fact that there are many who labor to bring the party to a more inclusive position. In that regard, millions who come together with the demand for justice which already surpassed the CHP as well as the CHP giving more place to LGBTI+ individiuals as a social democratic opposition party give me hope. And I believe that now we need hope more than ever.

KaosGL: Trans Pride took place in Harbiye in spite of ban

The press statement for Trans Pride Walk was read in Pangaltı in Istanbul rather than Taksim Square as originally planned due to a heavy police blockade. Anti-transphobia activists marched to Harbiye.

Source: “Trans Pride Walk took place in Harbiye in spite of the ban!” (Trans Onur Yürüyüşü yasağa inat Harbiye’deydi), kaosGL.org, July 2, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24123

Foto: SPoD LGBTI

Anti-transphobia activists met today (July 2) at Pangaltı, upon the call of the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association within the scope of Trans Pride Walk. The press statement was read in front of the Pangaltı metro station. The statement protested the last minute ban of the governor’s office and commemorated those who were murdered in Sivas Madımak Hotel on July 2, 1993.

Detentions following the march

After the statement, anti-transphobia activists walked to Harbiye following Cumhuriyet Avenue. After the walk, the police took 7 people into custody. The police did not state the reason for the arrests. The names of the detained are: Buse Kılıçkaya of Pink Life LGBTI, LGBTI+ activists Şevval Kılıç, Özgür Durmaz, Emre Aymelek, Beniz Ertürk, Umut Avcı and photographer Ömer Tevfik Erten.

The detained rights activists were taken to Feriköy Police Station and were all released after an hour long detention.

After releasing these 7 people, the police immediately detained them once more in order to “to draw up a record”.

Photo: SPoD LGBTİ

Taksim under police blockade

Last night people were banned from assembling at Taksim square. The surrounding area was under police blockade. Gezi Park was closed, the entrance to many streets on İstiklal Avenue were blocked and police harassed people sitting in the cafes around Mis Street.

The statement was read in Taksim

The press statement for the walk was read on Öğüt Street which hosts Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association.

We ask the governor’s office!

Here is the full text of the press statement:

To the press and public,

Trans Pride Week has been banned by the governor’s office for the last two years, in spite of years of peaceful celebrations and the march not constituting any problems against public order.

The governor’s office states that “the aforementioned march’s organization will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are visiting the area, and in regards to public order.”

We ask the governor’s office;

*In the previous 8 walks which citizen’s security were threatened?

*Which tourists were ever harmed?

We are as sure about this as we are about our tranny-ness; neither the Istanbul Governor’s Office nor the office of the Prime minister can justify such an excuse…

The Governor’s office of Istanbul has gracefully added the security of the trans and anti-transphobia activists to its announcement. The Governor’s office might have forgotten; so we shall remind it!

Esteemed Governor;

You have been banning Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Walk for the last 3 years and Trans Pride Walk for 2 years. During these 3 years, nearly 100 anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia activists were injured, tens of them were detained and hundreds of citizens were subjected to police violence. Many citizens who have come to Taksim to exercise their most basic rights were put on trial in a lawless manner.

And again, highly esteemed Governor, our exercise of the constitutional rights were inhibited by the civilian fascists’ calls for jihad, murder and massacre, under the watch of the law enforcers working under you…

Is security maintained by tear-gassing the citizens?

We ask:

Is security maintained by tear-gassing, assaulting and detaining the citizens exercising their constitutional right? Is what you call security maintained by condoning the attacks of civil fascists, committing a crime according to the constitution?

We know that the governor will not answer these questions. The governor and all those who agree on the ban should know that we will never give up daring to use our constitutional right!

Transphobia and xenophobia

Today, the Middle East is struggling with wars, internal conflicts and repressive policies of the political powers. Across the border, war in Syria and Iraq shows its cruel face to trans rights. Many organizations such as ‘Army of Conquest’ and ‘Free Syria Army’, supported by the government on the grounds that they are dissidents, have perpetrated crimes against LGBTI+s systematically and massacred many of our friends in the most primitive ways possible.

Amidst all these atrocities, LGBTI+s were forced to migrate to Turkey in the hope of a new life but were once more systematically condemned to oblivion. Migrant trans individuals trying to survive against all the hardships they experience in public space are condemned to a civilian death within a system deprived of support mechanisms.

The deplorable state of the camps, the steep rents, unemployment and insecurity have become ordinary for the migrants, the hardships are double for trans individuals.

Transphobia within the society, when combined with xenophobia, leads to violence and threats become a fact of life for the migrant trans individuals residing in Turkey. Every breath we take and every moment we live have become a struggle for survival.”

We, as the trans individuals of this country, speaking different languages, hailing from diverse regions and carrying all colours of the world in their hearts, declare that we will not allow any of our trans friends to stand alone against death threats, state or civilian violence and any kind of discrimination. Despite the state rationality that prevents us from coming together and all discriminatory ideas; we the trans individuals will continue to stand together regardless of language, religion, race or colour!

We have a couple of things to say to the Governor who banned our walk for the trans individuals migrating to Turkey from Syria and all other countries!

Esteemed governor, perhaps you don’t know, let us remind you!

According to Article 34 of the Constitution ‘ Everyone has the right to organize unarmed and non-violently assemble and protest marches without need for permission.’

And according to Article 3 of the Law No. 2911, everyone has the right to protest and to march without having to be given permission.

Esteemed Governor, as citizens fighting for the protection of constitutional rights, we invite you to act according to the constitution and not to commit any crimes!

Do not forget that those who came before you and banned the walk are either in prison or dismissed from their posts. And yet we are still here! We will continue to protect our lives and our living spaces! Even if you blockade each street against our walk, we will strengthen our struggle for survival in every home, in every street and in every city.

Don’t remain silent, trans individuals exist! The borders only exist in our minds, migrant trans individuals are among us!

We will continue to defend our living spaces, get used to it, we are not leaving!

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee statement on ban: We are marching, get used to it, we are here and we aren’t going anywhere!

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week has been organized since 1993, ending with a Pride March on Istiklal Avenue since 2002 [sic, 2003]. It has been announced via the Istanbul Governor’s Office’s website that the would-be 15th annual Pride March will not be allowed. To be able to hold demonstrations and marches is one of the most basic human rights concerning the freedom of expression and has been put under protection by both the constitution and international treaties. This ban is in violation not only of the legal precedents of the European Court of Human Rights, but also of international treaties, legislations in the domestic law and the constitution.

In the statement made by the governor’s office, it has been declared that according to the the Law No: 2911, the application for the event has not been done properly. As the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee we have made a written application on June 5, 2017 and thus requested a meeting with the Istanbul Governor’s Office. Furthermore, with the application, the notification concerning the exact dates of the Pride Week and March and the planned location of the march to take place has been submitted.

The statement made by the governorship clearly neglects the fact that LGBTI+’s are a part of this society with their comment: “… it’s also seen that there are very serious reactions against this call by different segments of society…” Furthermore the statement also legitimizes groups or individuals who make threats and commit hate crimes by suggesting that there are “sensitivities.”

The comments that say “the safety of tourists and public order” are mere attempts to alter the perception of our peaceful march with the participation of thousands of people from different countries. We are hoping that the governorship would renounce the statement and fulfill all the responsibilities of the state including safety and security measures, and without attacking, would ensure the space needed for us to actualize our annual 15th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March on June 25 to vocalize our claims in unity, prudence and attention to human rights in a peace-loving and safety.

We would like to underline once more that we are not in a particular place in a particular city but we are everywhere and we do not want our voice to be heard just for one day but we want to speak everyday. Thus we are saying once more: “Get Used to It: We are Here and We are NOT leaving!”

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

What’s between us, for 25 years!: Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Begins!

As the saying goes, it all started with “a handful of people” and faced bans and obstacles, but as it reaches its 25th anniversary, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week brings thousands together. This time we question “what’s between us?” In search of that “what” throughout the week, there will be many free of charge events such as panels, forums, workshops and plays.

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Organized by volunteers and held with the solidarity of all participants, 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week events will take place in various venues with the theme “What’s in that distance between us?” between June 19-25. The week will end with the Pride March on June 25.

Celebrated throughout the world during June with various events and marches, Pride has been celebrated in Izmir, Mersin, Antep and Kocaeli in Turkey. Istanbul Pride Week will begin with the joy of these events and marches held in these cities.

The Turkish Language Association defines “distance” as “the farness that separates two things.” But does distance only separate things, aren’t there any examples in which it brings things together? The loves that we hold on to so dearly, our hands, our touch and our longing for each other are lined up through that distance. The power that we get from sharing, standing in solitude, being together despite all seeming hopelessness and desperation stands there. Our courage to own the words used to hurt us, the greatest proof that we still stand, and our joy and laughter echoing in the most remote parts of the city are also there. There, all are our bodies; tall, short, fat, thin, in various shapes, various images, various tastes which we sometimes cannot define, sometimes transcends all the definitions there are yet which breathe, orgasm, walk, live, exist. We are that “distance,” we share that “distance.”

In that “distance” we have been subjected to the same oppressions as well. First, there is the government trying to take down our associations and, for the last two years, attacking our march. In the distance between us and the government, there is the sexist, patriarchal law which refrains from catching the murderers of Hande Kader and Ahmet Yıldız. In the distance between us and the city there is the power which incarcerates us into ghettos and which shapes the city, the gentrification which takes our homes and neighborhoods away from us; and in the distance between us and the streets there are paramilitary groups who summon an attack on our marches and are supported openly by the government and the unfair law.

On top of that, there is a giant polarization which leads the people to intolerance, ostracizing the one who is not like the majority. This culture is now so deeply rooted, so strong, so well-established that it sneaks its way even into our circles of solidarity, affects our combat spaces. What is in that distance between us that divides, separates, angers us so much?

In such an age where solidarity is essential more than ever before, we think we should discuss the things that divide us and bring us together. In spite of all the oppression that we faced, there are gorgeous things in that distance which helps us exist in this city, this country, this society. To resist the despair that we live in and the inertia that we drift into, we suggest to hold onto each other.

Happy 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week!

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE 25TH PRIDE WEEK:

Our solidarity causes everything in society to enter into the interests of LGBTI+s and so into the Pride Week’s. Therefore in the week often described as “colorful”, there are two panels regarding the State of Emergency, an issue that is not that colorful. And in the three-day workshop on video activism will enable us to talk and learn about different ways of resistance and solidarity.

Participants coming from different LGBTI+ organizations in 18 cities Turkey-wide will share the local dynamics of the LGBTI+ movement on the aspects of organizing and practices of combat.

The LGBTI+ movement questions not only the discrimination between people but the relationship of the humankind with other species. In light of this issue, there will be a discussion on vegan politics based on eco-feminism/animal rights and a vegan picnic to create a space for vegan politics to be discussed.

Besides all these, there will be workshops, forums, Pride Week Exhibition based on passion, bodies, LGBTI+ culture and LGBTI+ spirituality and also panels and workshops on topics less discussed such as colonialism, being in jail and asexuality.

In most evenings throughout the program there will be plays. Poetry events and mural painting also take place during the program.

PRIDE WEEK PROGRAM:

http://tr.prideistanbul.org/anasayfa

www.facebook.com/istanbulpride

PHOTOS:  https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0ByhK9vIqeMica0NSZndhc0J2V2s (We kindly request the publisher to indicate the photographers’ names.)

INTERVIEWS AND PRESS INQUIRIES: Lara Güney Özlen 0536 437 41 61

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:

LGBTI+ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Plus. Last year, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week added the “+” to the end. Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee explains adding the “+” after the initial for Intersex in the past years due to the fact that “we say all the combinations in the rainbow exist in our movement and we aim to socialize people with the idea of not attributing a fixed identity to anyone by judging from the outside”.

About Pride Week: On June 28, 1969, gay and trans people rose against the oppression and violence that targeted them in the Stonewall Inn Bar in New York; trapped, the police came to bust the place and the protests and the conflicts spread to the streets for four days. This day, a turning point for the LGBTI+ movement, is celebrated all around the world in Pride Week. In Turkey it was first attempted to celebrate this day in 1993 as “Sexual Freedom Week”. But with a governorate ban, arrests and deportation of the foreign guests, the Pride March couldn’t happen. In the face of bans, the demands of and the support for the movement grew stronger and the first Pride March took place in 2003, ten years after the Pride Week had begun to be organized.  The march, which was participated in by only 20-30 people back then, grew incrementally. It is estimated that around 100,000 people joined the march in 2013. In 2015, the 13th Pride March was surprisingly disrupted by the police force. In the year 2016 there was similar police interference, and the interference was met both with the resistance on the streets and the reading of the press statement repeatedly all around the city. We are determined to continue the resistance because the streets are ours. The LGBTI+ movement with hope and tenacity, calls everyone to fill the streets on the June 25, 2017 for the 15th Pride March.