LGBTI Activism

LGBTI rights movement in Turkey

ILGA-Europe’s #AnnualReview2019 is now out!

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ILGA Europe’s annual review covering the period of January and December 2019 is published. The Turkey chapter was drafted in coordination with team members of LGBTI News Turkey. Once more, Turkey ranks 48 among 49 countries, with a score of 5%. You can read the Turkey chapter here and the full report here.

Below we share the press release on the report:

Annual Review of the situation of LGBTI people paints a picture at odds with a widespread notion that in Europe the work is done

Launched today [February 4, 2020] , the 10th edition of ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review details the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people across the 49 European countries, and the five countries of Central Asia. Created with LGBTI activists and experts on the ground, the Review also identifies trends, both current and on the rise.

This year’s review, which charts developments during the 12 months of 2019, paints a complex picture that diverges from the widespread narrative that all is well for LGBTI people in large parts of Europe. Central to this is a sharp rise in anti-LGBTI hate speech carried out by public figures across Europe – in countries ranging from Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey, to Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain – and the very real consequences of this for LGBTI individuals and groups. In many countries across the European and Central Asian regions, and not only those with a documented growth in official bias-motivated speech, there has also been an equally sharp increase in online hate-speech and physical attacks on LGBTI people, many of the latter premeditated and brutal.

The review identifies that this is a pan-European phenomenon, from the UK where the populist narrative surrounding Brexit can be linked to an increase in anti-LGBTI hate crimes and incidents, to the banning of events in many towns and cities on the continent, the prosecution of participants in Pride marches in Turkey, and a growing presence of anti-LGBTI and neo-Nazi protesters in public spaces during LGBTI events across the region.

Alongside the rise in hatred, there is increased movement of people from within the region to countries perceived as less harsh. More LGBTI people left countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan for neighbouring countries where the situation might be perceived as relatively safer. There is also an anecdotal rise in people saying they want to leave countries like Poland for other EU countries.

Reported obstacles in access to healthcare, bullying in schools and the workplace, and LGBTI people being denied services, often with a lack of governmental intervention, all play a part in the overall picture of a Europe where lived experiences for a large part do not match up with the surface message that LGBTI rights and equality have been fully secured.

According to Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe: “It is not all bad news. The issue of bodily integrity for intersex people continues to gain more prominence on the political agenda of governments and institutions. 2019 was a year of positive developments for rainbow families in the region, with an expansion of family rights in a few countries; and important advancements continue to be made on reforming or establishing legal gender recognition procedures, even if in many countries progress is slowing down.

“However, the lived reality of LGBTI people in many parts of Europe and Central Asia is increasingly difficult and for a large part remains invisible, even to organisations like ILGA-Europe. Action is needed. Governments still have so much to do, from adopting laws that guarantee the protection of people’s rights and giving public authorities the means to translate policy into practice across sectors, to leading by example in having a discourse promoting social acceptance and inclusion.

“By making people aware of such a broad and nuanced picture, which is constantly shifting and evolving, the ILGA-Europe Annual Review aims to give a sense of the enormity of issues and areas that affect the lives of people, which will continue to require attention, especially in a context where LGBTI people are being targeted and vulnerability is heightened.”

What’s on Queerfest today? January 25

Don’t miss out on the films to watch today, workshops and talks! All films have Turkish and English subtitles!

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French Cultural Center

14:00 Chronic

16:00 I’m Moshanty. Do you love me? followed by a Q&A with Tim Wolff

18:00 Lemebel

Vault 34

13:00 IQMF Shorts

15:00 Mezipatra Shorts followed by a Q&A with Pavel Bicek

17:30 Transfinite followed by a Q&A with Neelu Bhuman

19:30 Shelter:Farewell to Eden

Kıraathane İstanbul

13:00 Queernes #Forever Shorts

15:00 Lover Shorts

16:30 Queer Shorts from Turkey

18:30 Koli Gazes Upon Kolis! Shorts

TALK: WRITING WITH ONE’S BODY, MULTIPLYING IN WRITING

20:00, Institut français

Seçil Epik and  Sevcan Tiftik will discuss how to increase visibility through writing and the potentials which writing brings, following the documentary Lemebel .

TALK: LGBTI+ ARCHIVING – WHY DOES IT MATTER?

20:15, Feminist Mekan

Following the screening of Archivettes, a film on the lesbian bisexual feminist archive collective active since 1970’s, Lara Güney Özlen and Okay Gökmen will talk about LGBTI+ history and archiving.

ROUND TABLE: NON-BINARIES COME TOGETHER!

15.00, SPoD Office

This roundtable aims to bring non-binaries together and increase the visibility of non-binary experiences by sharing and listening the stories.

SOUND FOR VIDEO WORKSHOP

January 25-26, Altyazı Sinema Derneği

This workshop aims to provide insights on how the sound accompanies and enriches the visual narrative. The participants will record, edit and manipulate their own sounds on Ableton Live software for the visual material of their own choosing. The facilitator is Gizem Oruç.

QUEER APPROACHES TOWARDS CIS-HETERO ROLES

January 25-26  14.00-17.00, The Circle

The participants of this workshop are encouraged to bend and disrupt the heteronormativity by queering the cis-hetero roles and their performances in fron of the camera. The facilitator of the workshop is actor Ayça Damgacı.

 QUEER DOCUMENTARY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP 

January 25 10.30-17.30, Altyazı Sinema Derneği

The workshop focuses on many aspects of documentary making, such as development, production, post-production with instructions on funding, distribution and narrative. The facilitators are Metin Akdemir, Rüzgar Buşki, Burcu Melekoğlu and Vuslat Karan.

What’s on QueerFest today? January 24

You can watch six different selections of shorts as well as “These Peculiar Days”, “The Celluloid Closet”, “Club Splendida”, or “Transitioning” on today’s schedule. Check out our summary for today’s events on QueerFest below.

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TALK: STORIES TRANSFORMED

January 24 Ocak, 19:00, SALT Galata

Following the screening of Kuir Belgeseller bölümünün dikkat çeken filmlerinden Paternal Rites, Nayuk (Nazlı Mayuk)  and Hilal Esmer will talk about the transformative potential of the survivors’ stories.

TERF ARGUMENTS(?) CACOPHONY

January 24, 20.00, Institut français


Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism (TERF) has become concerning for both the global trans movement and the LGBTI+ movement in Turkey. Following the screening of Transitioning, QueerFest will answer the transphobic discourses through the perspectives of diverse subjects. Activists Beren Azizi and Vanessa Lee Nic will participate in the discussions’ origins and bust all the arguments of this transphobic alliance.

TALK: QUEER PERFORMERS SPEAK!

January 24 18.00, Institut français

The talk will take place after the screening of Queer Shorts from Turkey.

Bulut B.Sezer and Nihal Albayrak will talk about their experiences as queer actors on a heteronormative stage and the struggle that ensued.

 

What’s on 9th QueerFest ? The schedule is here!

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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.

Joined together with music against trans murders: shelTer

All sales through bandcamp from the album shelTer will be given to Eylül Cansın Trans Guest House! The guesthouse takes its name from Eylül Cansın, a trans woman who committed suicide in 2015 at the age of 23…

Source: “Joined together with music against trans murders: shelTer” (“Trans cinayetlerine karşı müzik ile bir arada: shelTer”), Tuğçe Özbiçer, Gazete Duvar,  November 20, 2019, https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/kultur-sanat/2019/11/20/trans-cinayetlerine-karsi-muzik-ile-bir-arada-shelter/?D736fbclid=IwAR0Kl96N6pSEK0YDUKqHCKIDfw3JehVA86tIn_y6jJQntA8L0qjZE9KJ8o0

Ece Özel and Umut Kahya, the founders of Müstesna Records have both been important figures in the Istanbul music scene for many years. After the album “Etnik Sentetik” which covers the works produced between 1995 and 2006, they announced the news of an exciting new album: shelTer.

All of the revenue from ShelTer’s sales will be transferred to Eylül Cansın Trans Guest House and is now on sale through bandcamp. The guesthouse is named after Eylül Cansın, a trans woman who committed suicide at the age of 23 in 2015, saying “I wanted to work but they wouldn’t let me. I can’t stand it anymore.” 

Eylül Cansın’s case once again showed that transgender individuals are subjected to systematic hatred from society and the state.

PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT: TO SUPPORT THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE GUESTHOUSE AND POLICIES THAT WILL STRENGTHEN GUESTS

Cansın Trans Guest House is also home to transgender people from migrant backgrounds. The revenue from the shelTer album is intended to financially support the process of both the relocation and the policy-making of the guesthouse, which is currently in the process of being evacuated due to infrastructure and security issues.

TURKEY: EUROPE’S MOST TRANS MURDERS COMMITTED COUNTRY

Turkey is notorious for having the most trans murders in Europe and the ninth most in the world. Many names from the local and international underground music scene came together to create international awareness of the fact that trans murders and suicides are political. ShelTer, a compilation album, brings together 25 tracks that will make you dance with minimal rhythms, and take you on a cosmic journey with dark sounds and harsh timbre!

Here is the link of the album that is currently on pre-sale via Bandcamp but you can reach all of its songs in 7-10 days (as of original publication on 20/11/2019)

https://mustesnarecords.bandcamp.com/album/va-shelter

Umut Kahya explained the album project as follows:  “We discussed it with Ece (Özel) ‘Can we do something about hate crime and trans murders in our field? I think it was around May or June. Then we asked the artists we knew if they would like to take part in the project. We received a positive response from almost everyone we spoke to. Unfortunately, the guesthouse is now closed, and we will contribute to find a new place for the guests during the evacuation process and to cover their expenses such as rent and repairs.”

Ece Özel  runs the Exclusive Records project with Umut Kahya and has been on the Istanbul music scene for almost 10 years. Ece said: “LGBTI + individuals have a very important place in the music scene and nightlife in Istanbul, but they must constantly struggle for this place”. A struggle that “needs to be repeated from scratch.”

When I ask her to compare the situation with the past, I get the following answer: “Yes, there are many things that have changed from past to present, of course, the new generation has a different view of the whole situation, the world is different.”