LGBTI Activism

LGBTI rights movement in Turkey

8th Pink Life QueerFest Announces its “Under the Rainbow” Selection

  1. Pink Life QueerFest is almost here! The festival will be held on January 25-26-27 and will be hosted by The Kıraathane İstanbul Literature House, The French Cultural Center and The Design Workshop Kadıköy.

Here QueerFest announces the programme of its most popular section “Under the Rainbow”  which brings together critically acclaimed feature films.  The films to be shown this year are: Corpo Electrico (2017), Terror Nullius (2018), Malila: A Farewell Flower( 2017), Retablo (2017) and Rafiki (2018).

Corpo Electrico is an award-winning production and a highlight of Brazilian queer cinema. The realist film, which collected awards at various festivals including Queer Lisboa, portrays the story of a group of young people working in a textile factory in their daily lives. In the film, Elias starts working in a textile factory in São Paulo. As the workload increases with the upcoming holiday season, Elias begins to enter new social circles and encounters new emotions and experiences.

After the screening of the film, there will be a panel with the participation of a migrant LGBTI + textile worker from Denizli. In such a labor-intensive sector, the mechanisms of discrimination against LGBTI + individuals will be discussed.

Terror Nullius takes its name from the phrase terra nullius which means “land without an owner”. The film is a noteworthy example of a successful queer mashup film both due to its content and style. Filmed in Sydney in 2002 and produced by a two-person art collective Soda Jerk, which produces works at the intersection of documentary and speculative fiction genres.  Terror Nullius deconstructs Australian cinema through its story taking place on the set of the production of “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior”. The film is an eye opening criticism of colonialism and patriarchy.

Malila: A Farewell Flower was Thailand’s Oscar nomination for this year. The film deserves special attention due to its impressive cinematography and sober narrative.  Malila tells the story of Shane who is struggling with a terminal disease. The film narrates Shane’s union with their ex lover through the decorative art of “Bai Siri”, symbolizing the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. Director Anucha Boonyawatana’s first feature film Onthakan (2015) was also screened at the 5th Quer Fest.

Retablo was screened at the “Generation Films” selection of 2018 Berlinale Festival. The film takes its title from the art of “retablo” which illustrates religious stories with a technique bringing together sculpting and painting. Fourteen year old Segundo wants to become an esteemed “retablo” master just like their father and continue the family tradition. How will Segundo deal with the confrontation when their father’s secret life is revealed? Will Segundo join the mob of hatred against their father, is there another way possible? The film was very well received by last year’s Berlinale audience and got the TEDDY award.

Rafiki is another exciting new production to greet the audience in the Under the Rainbow section of the festival. Rafiki was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of two young women whose friendship turns into love, amidst the political differences of their families. The film was banned in Kenya, its country of production on the premises that it promoted homosexuality.

Other sections, selections and event details will be announced very soon.

Spread the love for QueerFest with the hashtag #ÇokGüzelsinYasakMısın (#URPrettyRUBanned)

Trans Activist Diren Coşkun’s Statement Upon Her Release from Prison

“I had decided to start a death fast after I was deprived of my rights in the health and justice system and exposed to isolation, discrimination and maltreatment. I sincerely thank everyone who has supported me.

Every day we witness the increase of human rights violations in prisons. In such a context, it is impossible that you don’t know how especially trans inmates are subject to discrimination and undignified treatment.

I was able to retain some of my rights thanks to your support and campaigning, but even though we were two trans women sharing a cell, my trans identity was not ignored, whereas Buse’s trans identity was ignored and so were her personal needs.

When I started my death fast I knew that these were some of the issues all trans inmates were facing, I was conscious of this. I started it knowingly, I started it for Buse. I needed you to make my voice heard so that Buse’s voice was also heard. Thank you.

Today I’m out of prison. I will continue to raise my voice for Buse and all my fellow trans inmates. Today I wrote a letter to Buse with tears in my eyes. Please write. Write to all trans inmates. Let’s not leave Buse and all others like Buse alone. Solidarity helps survival, we are stronger together.”

 

#BuseyeSesVer

 

Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association’s Statement on December 17, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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“Sex workers living in Turkey continue to have their rights violated.Sex workers are a target of multiple discrimination due to the intersection of their work and gender identity. Othering, stigmatization, marginalization and the violence and discrimination that come about with these attitudes prevent sex workers from leading a life as equal citizens. Added to rights violations, are poverty, patriarchy, heterosexism, whorephobia and similar factors. As such, sex workers become the primary target of “hate operations” supported by the state and social rage.

There are many studies which demonstrate the degree of discrimination and hate against sex workers. The fact stated by all of these studies is that sex workers living in Turkey are in constant threat from hate motivated criminal acts. Hate speech and hate crimes against sex workers are isolating them in all realms of life and push them into a vicious cycle which takes away their right to live.

Law enforcers target sex workers due to the legislation and practices that “regulate” sex work which in turn pushes them into working in insecure areas, being victims of organized crime and poverty. Sex workers are forced to work amidst all sorts of insecurity while also being deprived of access to justice. Violence and discrimination motivated by hate, target sex workers on a daily basis and marginalize them. Marginalization brings suicides and murders.

With love and respect, we commemorate every sex worker whose voice was unheard, who had to struggle against all kinds of violence and who were taken from us by murderers.

VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/KirmiziSemsiyeCinselSaglikVeInsanHaklariDernegi/photos/a.144136365792174/924137507792052/?type=3&theater

We Exist On Campus: An Interview With Dokuz Eylul University’s Eşit Şerit [Equal Stripe] Society

Source: “We Exist on Campus: Eşit Şerit” (“Kampüste varız: Eşit Şerit”), Gözde Demirbilek, Kaos GL, September 27th, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=26681.

With our new written series “We Exist In Campus” we are directing the microphone toward LGBTI+ communities at universities. Our series’ first guest is Dokuz Eylül University’s Eşit Şerit [Equal Stripe] Gender Research Society, which during fall semester started running a booth on campus. We gave the floor to Ata Alan of  Eşit Şerit.

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When was Equal Stripe founded? To whom is it open?

Our society is a community of students, collaborating with local authorities and many institutions, that does work in the fields of gender and gender based violence, queer studies, and sexual health, and which works to develop space on campus where LGBTI+ individuals and women will be able to be more comfortable expressing themselves, and to strengthen solidarity towards this same aim. It has been active since April 2014, and since November 2015 it has held the status of official student group affiliated with Dokuz Eylül University’s rectorate. It is open to people who want to carry out work in these fields.    

Since starting work on campus in 2015 what kind of course has  Eşit Şerit followed?

We have tried to participate in the the politics of the Municipality of Buca where most Dokuz Eylül University students live. When we were denied space on campus, we turned this into an opportunity and contacted Buca City Council, and now we have a space there too. In April 2017, we established the Equality Council of Buca City Council, which mostly consists of students from Dokuz Eylül. We are trying to create space [for LGBTI+ individuals and women] within the university but also in Buca.        

What kind of methods did you choose to oppose the shrinking number of spaces [for LGBTI+ individuals and women]?

We try to produce solutions to problems that we face due to the university, sometimes through talking at meetings, sometimes through awareness-based activities that we organize. If the obstacles of the university administration reduce our motivation in the activities that we carry out at school, we somehow find the energy to stay together. Above all else we are friends, friends who deeply understand each other, friends who stick together. We somehow find our motivation to expand and protect this space. We are stronger together!    

Have you started work on the fall semester?

For the new semester we started a stand, we opened our first booth on the 25th of September at the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, which is located at DEU’s Dokuzçeşmeler Campus. In the coming days we will also open our stand at the various faculties that are found at DEU’s College of Education Campus and the Tınaztepe Campus. We are the ones with the rainbow [flag]!     

When is the group’s first meeting of the year?

We will hold a meeting when we finish running the booth, on the 13th of October we will meet with our new members at the cafe Dera Köşk and plan the new semester together. We are waiting for you!

LISTAG marks its 10th year with the book “Stories from the Rainbow”

LİSTAG GH7

LISTAG, founded by parents with LGBTI+ children in 2008, celebrated its 10th year on December 10 World Human Rights Day in Istanbul.  A reader’s theatre was organized by the LGBTI+ Parents and Relatives Group (LISTAG) in the Dutch Consulate, where passages from the book titled “Stories from Rainbow” were read.

LISTAG marked its 10th anniversary on World Human Rights Day by a reader’s theatre based on their new publication, “Stories from the Rainbow”. “Stories from the Rainbow” is a book compiled of the real life stories of families of LGBTI+ individuals from various cities of Turkey.

LISTAG was founded by several parents who had come together to support their children and to show that they are neither sick nor alone. Within ten years, the platform’s reputation has crossed borders through their work and the documentary “My Child”, which tells the story of these parents. This year, the group organized story telling trainings with the support of the Human Rights Fund from the Dutch Embassy and compiled the real life stories of people with LGBTI+ relatives or kin. The group held a book launch on December 10 World Human Rights Day at the Istanbul Dutch Consulate. The reader’s theatre was performed by the artists Ayta Sözeri, Ayça Damgacı, Haydar Köyel, Melis Öz and Seyhan Arman and was met with great acclaim.

Yasemin Zeynep Başaran, one of the co-editors of the book, made the opening speech of the 10th anniversary gathering. Başaran underlined that they wish for the book to reach wider audiences, not just LGBTI+ families and said: “Stories from the Rainbow illustrates the journey of parents who know that loving your child means understanding them and having the courage to travel the arduous and long journey of understanding through transcending prejudices of their own and of others”.

Families from LISTAG invited everyone to organize reading theatres for these stories of LGBTI+ families, as they believe that “A story changes a person, a person can change all of us”.

You can obtain a copy of “Stories from the Rainbow” by sending an e-mail to  <info@listag.org> and you can watch the videos through LISTAG accounts stated below. (The book is in Turkish)

LİSTAG

www.listag.org

https://www.facebook.com/listaggrubu

https://twitter.com/lgbttailegrubu

https://www.instagram.com/listagfamilygroup/

 

BENİM ÇOCUĞUM (“My Child” Documentary)

www.benimcocugumbelgeseli.com

https://www.facebook.com/mychildbenimcocugum/

https://twitter.com/listagfilm

 

*This article is a summary translation of the LISTAG press release.

December 1 World AIDS Day Events in Turkey

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The LGBTI+ Community in Turkey marks World AIDS Day 2018 with engaging activities . Despite the restraining political environment in Turkey, LGBTI+ activism has been growing stronger and one field where it has consolidated its efforts is in raising awareness on testing for HIV and focus on the lives of HIV+ individuals. In this article, we introduce organizations working for HIV awareness and events that will mark the day this year.

 

Pozitifiz (We are Positive) is a non-governmental organization that approaches the HIV issue from a human rights perspective, seeking to increase access to better healthcare for HIV+ individuals and abolish prejudices against them and their families to provide better living conditions. Most of the founders are HIV+ individuals who have been active in the field for many years.

 

Red Ribbon Istanbul is another civil society organization which strives to expand the channels of information for HIV awareness. They aim to “communicate scientifically-grounded HIV-related information to all parts of society, using clear and easy-to-understand language.”  Red Ribbon Istanbul also works to foster collaboration of private sector, civil society and state actors in order to increase opportunities for safe and anonymous testing, diagnosis and treatment.

 

Red Ribbon Istanbul and Pozitifiz joined forces for their #hivcokdegisti campaign, which says “HIV has changed, have we?”. The campaign circulates statements aiming to rid the public sphere from prejudices about HIV+ individuals and HIV+ living, reminding all of us that “HIV is not only a matter for those who live with HIV, but also for everybody else”. You can read their joint statement for World AIDS Day 2018 on this link.

 

This year, Pozitifiz also participated in the meeting for GSK (GlaxoSmithKline)’s World AIDS Day 2018 Campaign , titled “Kendin İçin 1 Aralık” (December 1 For Yourself) which introduces the stories of HIV+ individuals through their own narratives, inviting everyone to share their own support messages with the #dokun (#touch) hashtag, in an effort to overcome the barriers of fear and prejudice. The campaign also urges everyone to get an HIV test and to learn more about AIDS.

 

Hevi LGBTI Association and Boysan’ın Evi (Boysan’s House) marks the day with a panel titled “HIV/AIDS and Isolation on the basis of gender: Women Tell Their Stories”. The panel is to take place on December 2, 17:00-19:00 at Boysan’s House with the participation of panelists Çiğdem Şimşek and Müzeyyen Araç. Hevi LGBTI has also published multilingual pamhplets and is organizing two more panels on December 1, titled “HIV through Letters” and “AIDS in Turkey- Recent Medical Methods and Studies”.

 

Dramaqueer Art Collective which has recently opened its art base in Tarlabaşı will host a talk titled “M.Paniği” (“M. Panic”) on the first known and sensationalized AIDS case in Turkey. Murteza Elgin, a successful vocalist and manager, became the target of a media circus, finding out about his own HIV+ condition through the very news that stigmatized him. Serdar Soydan will introduce M’s story and the struggle against fear and prejudice in this talk.

 

On World AIDS Day 2018 there will also be an exhibition opening at Operation Room at American Hospital, titled “Positive Space”. The exhibition invitation states that it “opens discussions about themes, directly related to HIV/AIDS, such as visibility and stigma, victimhood and guilt, pleasure and disease as well as subjective bodies recording, separating, accepting and rejecting, infecting and spreading in opposition to ideological and medical bodies. Even though the exhibition affirms ‘positivity,’ it reserves the right to see AIDS as a metaphor. The unrepressed HIV does not destroy the cell, it attacks and emaciates it, just like masculine domination or bio-power practices do. “Positive Space” looks for new contamination technologies against these practices.” Read more about it in this link.

 

To make the World AIDS Day more visible, Kaos GL and Pozitifiz Association has published ads on two dailies (Evrensel and Birgün) with Aslı Alpar’s illustrations with the title “End Stigmatization and Discrimination”.

 

Kaos GL’s Social Services Studies Group has published a statement on World AIDS Day 2018 drawing attention to the discrimination HIV+ individuals face. Here is the statement:

 

“We are disappointed to see that discourses on December 1 World AIDS Day solely focus on the increase in the number of individuals living with HIV. We believe that it is not possible to ignore the discrimination that people living with HIV experience in many realms of life. This discrimination not only affects the psychosocial wellbeing of people living with HIV negatively, but also prevents people living with HIV from accessing social services efficiently. People living with HIV have equal rights with everyone else, from the right to healthcare to the right to work, from the right to education to the right to accomodation.

 

As the Kaos GL Social Services Studies Group we fight for the people with HIV’s access to their rights and we will continue our fight. We are conscious of the responsibility and duty that social services experts and other professionals working in the field of psychological healthcare bear.

 

HIV can be controlled. What matters is that hatred, discrimination and pressure against people living with HIV is controlled.

 

Happy December 1 World AIDS Day!”

 

Illustration: Aslı Alpar

 

Trans Students not accepted at the Dormitory despite their Entitlement to KYK Housing

SPoD (Social Policies, Gender  Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association)’s hotline has been responding to many calls from trans students, complaining about not being allowed at the dorms they are entitled to, despite being awarded accomodation at KYK dorms.

Source: “Trans Students not Accepted at the Dormitory Despite their Entitlement to KYK (Credits and Dormitories Institution) Housing” (“KYK yurtlarını kazanan trans öğrenciler yurda alınmıyor”), Aslı Alpar, KaosGL.org, November 12, 2018, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27017.

CRAIGANDKARL

Illustration: Craig and Karl

Trans students calling SPoD’s hotline are saying that they are barred from using the dorms by dorm management and ask what they can do in this situation.

KaosGL.org asked the association’s lawyer Hatice Demir about the discrimination against trans students in KYK dorms and its legal dimensions. In this interview, Lawyer Demir explains the rights that trans students have against these discriminatory practices and the consequences of the arbitrary practice at KYK dorms. Demir suggests that many of the students barred from using KYK dorms are also barred from their right to education and that even when trans students are allowed in they are being isolated.

When they call the hotline, what do the trans students say about the discrimination at the dorms?

The list of students awarded accomodation at KYK dorms was published at the beginning of the semester, yet additional placements continue. Trans students who have not completed their legal process were awarded housing by KYK dorms, but called the SPoD hotline saying that they were not allowed in and asked what legal measures they can take against this treatment. The callers reported:  ‘I’m entitled to the use of dorms, I carried out all the necessary procedures, but the management will not let me in as they can not decide if they should place me at the female or male dorm’.

So how does the dorm management respond to these students?

Trans students are generally told “It’s your problem. Nobody else is experiencing these issues. Go handle it elsewhere”. The callers also report that they are often insulted by the dorm authorities and that the dorm guard will not let them enter.

On certain occasions, dormitory staff allocate an empty room to the student, which means they live in isolation. When single occupancy rooms are given to trans students, the dorm authorities use the excuse of “security”, stating: “we don’t put you in the same room with them to protect you”. Yet, the same dorm management do not do anything  to rid discrimination against trans students in the dorms. Moreover, they consolidate discrimination with such isolation.

Isolation at the dorms remind one of the isolation witnessed in prisons, because whenever trans individuals are put in the custody of the state, the state is clueless about where to put them. This is due to the fact that the state ignore the existence of  trans people. Such an oblivious attitude corresponds to the state isolating or excluding the individuals using the excuse of “security”.

Similar conditions apply for trans inmates. The prison placement is done on the basis of the color of the ID* and the assigned gender on the ID. Therefore, in a similar vein to what happens to trans students, trans inmates too, are sent to the prisons allocated for the gender written on their IDs and yet again are isolated when the administration says “we can’t provide your safety”.

What does the student do when not allowed in the dorm?

Those who get enough financial aid from their families or from their scholarships can rent a flat or a room. Yet those without such means go back to their hometowns. This means that they are barred from exercising their right to education.

Is there a regulation which supports such discriminatory attitude?

Of course not. Higher Education Credits and Dormitories Institution Dorm Administration and Management Regulation do not state anything regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that there are no legal grounds for these arbitrary discriminatory and practices, yet it also means that LGBTI+ students are ignored and that the regulation is prepared based on a binary gender regime.

What can the trans students do if they are subjected to such discrimination?

As we have no prior lawsuits filed before, we do not have exemplary verdicts. However, a lawsuit can be filed at Administrative Court. Then, if the lawsuit is not concluded at the first degree courts, I believe it can be resolved at supreme judiciary. I think that the procedures at KYK can be improved to a non-discriminatory practice through the legal appeals of trans students who have been discriminated on the basis of their gender identity and denied the rights they are entitled to.

“LGBTI+ Friendly Student Dorms” project initiated by İzmir Genç LGBTI+ Association aims to render the LGBTI+ youth’s experiences at student dorms visible.

Within the scope of the project executed in collaboration with Heinrich Böll Stiftung Association Turkey Branch, a book written by LGBTI+ students  titled “LGBTI+ Dorm Experiences” was published.

*Translator’s note: Turkish ID cards are color-coded according to biological sex. The new non-color-coded ID cards have started being issued recently, yet the older ones are still in use unless the holder changes it. In any case, the gender slot is filled in by the state based on biological sex and trans individuals have to undergo a long legal and medical bureaucratic procedure to change the identity card.