LGBTI Activism

LGBTI rights movement in Turkey

Kaos GL and Pink Life: Ankara governor’s ban on LGBTI events illegal

Source: “Kaos GL ve Pembe Hayat: Valilik kararı hukuka aykırı,” Nov. 19, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24994

We learned that the governor’s office of Ankara bannedfrom November 18, 2017 onwards, activities of LGBTT-LGBTI organizations such as film screenings, cinevision, theater plays, panels, talks, exhibitions which include certain social sensitivities and sensibilities” via its website.

We will follow legal proceedings on the governor’s illegal, discriminatory and arbitrary ban. There can be no legitimate or legal grounds for such a wholesale ban that touches the core of rights.  

In an omnibus ban with a very wide scope, we are facing a situation that is vague, open to interpretation and rights violations, criminalizing LGBTI existence. LGBTI civil society organizations are respectable institutions working for years to combat discrimination and hate crimes for equal citizenship. This ban, which goes beyond limiting the areas of activity of these institutions and making them inoperable, cannot be accepted in a democratic society.   

Ankara governor’s office’s grounds for the omnibus ban, including the phrases “protecting public health and morality,” “social sensibilities and sensitivities,” “public security” and “protection of other people’s rights and liberties” are clearly discriminatory. This decision legitimizes rights violations and discrimination against LGBTIs.

This decision and the illegal and vague grounds for it violate the very fundamental freedom of expression and association as well as other fundamental rights and freedoms. With this ban, fundamental rights have been interfered with in their essence.

Ankara governor’s office’s decision to ban violates our constitution’s Article 10 on equality and Article 26 on freedom to announce and disseminate thoughts, as well as international agreements Turkey is party to.  

With this announcement the civil administration is endangering public safety by turning LGBTIs and civil society organizations, who are an important part of the public, into targets instead of fulfilling its duty to ensure public security.  

We expect this decision to be rethought and withdrawn in the shortest amount of time. In our country where discrimination and hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity is rampant, it is the duty of national and local administrations to combat this discrimination and hate.

 

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee calls on friends to support activists at trial

Thousands of LGBTI+ individuals and rights defenders went out to the streets for the 15th Pride March, which was planned for June 25, 2017 but banned at the last minute. For the last two years, the Istanbul Governor’s Office has cancelled the march, claiming that “it might lead to provocative actions and disrupt the public order.” Twenty-five people were taken into custody that day but all of our friends in detention were released the same evening.

However in August, an indictment was prepared by the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor against these 25 friends. The indictment charges them with violating Law No: 2911 Article 28/1 (“participating in an unauthorized demonstration.”) Following the indictment a lawsuit was filed against the 25 rights defenders.

We would like to announce that we will be following the trial, which is to take place on Nov. 16, 2017 at Istanbul Çağlayan Courthouse 48. Asliye Ceza Mahkemesi (48. Court of First Instance). We call all defenders of LGBTI+ rights to stand with us at this trial. It is an occasion to remind everyone that our Pride Marches where we repeat our demand for equal rights and the right to live cannot be tried in court.

We will be expecting our friends’ support at Çağlayan Courthouse on Nov. 16 at 09:00.

For more detailed information and contact:

Emre Demir: 0543 595 3670

 

Bianet: Sedef Çakmak is elected as the Chair of Rainbow Rose

LGBTI activist and Beşiktaş Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak is elected as Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose, the LGBTI network of Europe’s social democrat and socialist parties.

Source: “Sedef Çakmak is elected as the Chair of Rainbow Rose” (“Sedef Çakmak, Rainbow Rose Başkanı Seçildi”), bianet, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/191068-sedef-cakmak-rainbow-rose-baskani-secildi, October 30, 2017.

Rainbow Rose, a network comprised of the LGBTI platforms established within the European social democrat and socialist parties, had its general assembly in Stockholm, Sweden.

The assembly meeting was held between October 27-29, and LGBTI activists Elif Avcı of Şişli Municipality’s Equality Unit and Beşiktaş Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak participated in the assembly representing the Republican People’s Party (CHP) of Turkey.

Rainbow Rose has been fighting for LGBTI rights since 2006 as a part of PES (Party of European Socialists), of which CHP is also a member. Çakmak was elected as the Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose.

“Alliance with other LGBTI organizations strengthens us”

Speaking to Yıldız Tar of Kaos GL Çakmak stated:

“In these days when Turkey is getting more and more authoritarian and when different voices are sought to be silenced, we recognize how strengthening it is for people living in Turkey to be in solidarity with other LGBTI organizations around the world. Aside from this, LGBTI struggles for rights do not only produce policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity but also on refugees, union rights, gender equality, rule of law, areas which have an impact on all sectors of society. In today’s world where the global flow of information has accelerated, I believe it would be lacking to make policies detached from the rest of the world.”

“Both as a Turkish citizen and a local politician who is an LGBTI activist, I hope that the fact that I was chosen as the Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose will play a part in transcending the increasing bias against our country abroad due to the malpractices of the government which undermine democracy.”

Çakmak was a CHP candidate in the 2014 local elections and has been an alderwoman in Beşiktaş Municipality since then. Çakmak is the first openly homosexual politician in Turkey.

Pink Life goes to Hamburg!

Pink Life QueerFest selection to be screened at International Queer Film Festival in Hamburg. The 28th Hamburg International Queer Film Festival (aka LSF/ Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage) will take place between October 17-22, 2017. Germany’s largest and longest-running LGBT film festival celebrates its 28th year as a volunteer-based and independent organization, with its principles of “autonomy, equality, and self determination”.  Here is the invitation to the selection of films from Ankara-based Pink Life QueerFest to be featured:

“A selection of Turkish short films from Ankara’s Pink Life QueerFest: TRANSVESTITES is a pioneering mockumentary on the highly problematic representation of trans* sex workers in the media. PRINCE CHARMING, DON’T COME IN VAIN, a collective audiovisual claim to the existence of lesbians in Turkey. Experimental and fascinating, OVER TIME tells the stories of four workers. In CHILD’S PLAY Derin hides an adult secret in the toy-box filled with her childhood memories. The documentary LGBTI IN THE HOOD reflects the LGBTI community’s perspective on their neighbourhoods. MOIRA is a tribute to three LGBTI* activists who lost their lives in a traffic accident in September 2015. And in fragments of a roundtable: pink life discusses archiving the Pink Life team gathers around a not-so-round-table and discusses the archives of the QueerFest.”

For more info please visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/315944492205182

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.