LGBTI Activism

LGBTI rights movement in Turkey

The public statement for Istanbul Pride March will be announced at 17:00 on June 30

The public statement for Istanbul Pride March will be announced at 17:00 on June 30

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee invites everyone to gather for the Pride March in front of the entrance to the French Cultural Centre in Taksim at 17:00 on June 30.

Source: The public statement for Istanbul Pride March will be announced at 17:00 on June 30 (İstanbul Onur Yürüyüşü basın açıklaması 30 Haziran, saat 17:00’de), Kaos GL, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28431, June 29

 

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee invites everyone to gather for the Pride March in front of the entrance to the French Cultural Centre in Taksim at 17:00 on June 30.

After the governorship of Istanbul announced that they banned the Pride March in Istiklal Avenue, the Committee asked if it could take place in Bakırköy Square; however, the governorship also forbade the Pride March from being permitted and organized there.

This year is the 27th anniversary of Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week; and to end the week with the Pride March, the committee invites all the LGBTI+ individuals and everyone who is against LGBTI+ phobia to gather in front of the entrance to the French Cultural Centre in Taksim tomorrow at 17:00.

 

“We invite everyone to stand by us and to celebrate our Pride tomorrow”

The full announcement of the committee is as follows:

Call to all the LGBTI+ individuals and everyone who is against LGBTI+ phobia

We asked permission to use Bakırköy Square to celebrate our 17th LGBTI+ Pride March which we planned to organize on June 30; however, our application has been refused with no legal grounds whatsoever. The governorship that has been using Taksim Avenue as an excuse to ban the Pride March for years, has clearly shown everyone that Taksim Avenue is just an excuse for this ban.

As the 27th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we invite all LGBTI+ individuals and everyone who is against LGBTI+ phobia to gather in front of the building of the French Cultural Centre in Taksim at 17:00 on June 30, there we will announce our public statement. Our meeting will start in front of the French Cultural Centre; and we invite all of you to carry on the meeting by dancing, shouting slogans, and announcing our public statement in each and every street of Taksim. We will #march first on Taksim, then the whole of Istanbul and Turkey.

We invite everyone to stand by us and to celebrate our Pride tomorrow. 

#HerYürüyüşümüzOnurYürüyüşü #OurEveryMarchisaPrideMarch

Photo credit: Serra Akcan, NarPhotos, 2013

Guest*House Photobook and Film Launch Event

The Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul hosted an event on Monday, June 17 for the GuestHouse photobook and film launch. The GuestHouse serves the trans community by providing mainly trans women who have no place to stay with a safe shelter. In the opening of the event, Consul General Bart van Bolhuis said that during such difficult political times in Turkey, the establishing of a place such as the trans Guest* House to provide a safe and supportive environment for the trans community is a very important endeavor, that the book and film projects are extremely valuable in helping promote awareness, and added that the Netherlands Consulate is very glad to have been able to support these projects.

 

The Consul General’s opening speech was followed by the screening of the film GuestHouse. The film shows some of the people living in the GuestHouse in their daily interactions, sharing with the viewer their struggles, worries, fears and dreams, and what the GuestHouse means to them. We see some ways in which the GuestHouse is run and supported, and some of the challenges and issues it faces. For a few minutes, the film leaves the viewer in raw silence with displays of photographs of the trans women living in the guest house. The film also shows trans activist and actor Seyhan Arman, talking about how the vision for the Guest*House is to operate it like a senior center with its own staff, doctor and psychologist providing medical support.

 

After the screening of the film, talks moderated by Kübra Uzun, were held with GuestHouse project curator Ipek M. Sur van Dijk, photography artist Ömer Tevfik Erten, writer Defne Çizakça and Doğukan Karahan from SPoD (Social Policy, Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation Studies Association). Ipek M. Sur van Dijk recounted how she was introduced to Ömer and his work and how she was inspired by the impact of the artwork. Ömer and Defne shared with the audience the story of how they both met, the projects they’ve worked on together, their collaboration on the GuestHouse photobook and film projects, and future projects they plan to pursue.

 

Doğukan Karahan from SPoD shared the background and history of the GuestHouse, the way that it functions and how it has served and is continuing to serve the trans community. Doğukan also focused on the current issues facing the GuestHouse. He mentioned that the most pressing challenge has been the need to move to a new place. He added that finding a new place has not been easy due to funding limitations. He stated the urgency of the situation saying that they have overstayed their rent contract in their current location, that the owner of the building will not renew their contract and is asking them to leave. The audience asked questions to Doğukan and shared some ideas, brainstorming possible ways to resolve the problem.

 

The event ended with a networking reception in the consulate’s garden.

The Governorship of Antalya has banned the 3rd Antalya Pride Week!

The Governorship of Antalya has banned Antalya LGBTI+ Pride March and “all the related activities and events”. The governor’s office put forward “public decency” as the reason for this discriminatory ban.

Source: The Governorship of Antalya has banned the 3rd Antalya Pride Week! (Antalya Valiliği, 3. Antalya Onur Haftası’nı yasakladı!), Kaos GL, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28317 June 15, 2019

 

The governorship of Antalya has banned the 3rd Antalya LGBTI+ Pride Week stating the reason as “to prevent dissident groups from facing each other, to ensure the current peaceful environment, national safety, public order, public health and decency not to be disturbed, to block possible violence and terrorist activities, to preserve the unbreakable unity of the government, state, and nation, to protect the rights and freedom of other people,” pursuant to  Law no.2911 on Meetings and Protest Marches, the regulations on implementation of this law, and Article 11/A-C of the Law no.5442 on Provincial Administration.

The governor’s office has announced that “the Pride March and all the activities & events which will be organized afterwards in relation to that, such as public statements and activities/events by way of support to similar protests, as well as all the activities (marches, public statements, hunger strike, sit-in protests, setting up a booth or tent) which are follows-up to the same issue” have been banned in the whole city for 15 days.

Lawyer Ahmet Çevik: “We don’t accept the unlawful ban decision”

Lawyer Ahmet Çevik talked to KaosGL.org about the ban decision of the Governorship of Antalya:

“Today, the police officers of Antalya Security Branch Directorate, who came to the office of BIZ Association, notified [us of] the ban decision of the Governorship of Antalya. However, we refused to announce it because we don’t accept this unlawful ban decision. The ban decision of the Governorship of Antalya is contrary to the international agreements and to our own legislation. Let me tell you more clearly, the ban decision is contrary to the Istanbul Convention, the principles of equality in the constitution, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, and domestic legal order. Therefore, we refuse to announce it, the Governorship of Antalya should announce the ban to the public.”

Stating that the ban decision of the Governorship doesn’t only involve the activities within this week, but it also bans all the LGBTI+ activities throughout the whole city for 15 days and even protesting against the ban has been banned,  Çevik said:

“The Governorship has not only banned the Pride Week activities which will take place for 3 days. It banned all the LGBTI+ activities which will be organized in the whole of Antalya for 15 days starting from June 15. In addition to that, calling for LGBTI+ activities and reactions & protesting against it [the ban] in the digital world are banned, too. Moreover, no human rights associations or activist can condemn this ban or make a public statement about it within the borders of the city because these acts will also be considered as LGBTI+ activities. To sum, ban, ban, ban. Everything is banned!”

It is banned in Izmir, too!

The Governorship of Izmir announced a decision yesterday (June 14) and banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week stating similar reasons. The Governorship of Izmir gave the reason for it as “to ensure the people’s right to privacy, safety of the economy, public security, and welfare; to ensure national security, public security, and welfare; to protect national security, public order, to prevent crimes, to protect public health, public decency, and the other people’s rights and freedom, to prevent possible violence and terrorist activities.”

The governorship of Izmir has banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week

 

The governorship of Izmir has banned the events & activities which have been organized within the scope of the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week between the 17th – 23rd of June [2019].

Source: The governorship of İzmir has banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week (İzmir Valiliği, 7. İzmir LGBTİ+ Onur Haftası’nı yasakladı), Kaos GL, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28314 June 14, 2019

 

The governorship of Izmir has banned the 7th Izmir LGBTI+ Pride Week which has been organized with the efforts of volunteers, by stating the reason as “to ensure the peace and safety of the city’s people, their right to privacy, the safety of the economy, public security, and welfare; to ensure national security, public security, and welfare; to protect national security, public order, to prevent crimes, to protect public health, public decency, and the other people’s rights and freedom, and to prevent possible violence and terrorist activities,” pursuant to Law no.2911 on Meetings and Protest Marches, the regulation on implementation of this law, and  Article 11/A-C of Law no.5442 on Provincial Administration.

 

Trans Guest* House, a social awareness project

 

Trans Guest* House project will be launched on June 18-22, 2019 with a photography exhibition, stories and memories of the trans women and men’s lives, with the aim to increase awareness.

The project is directed by Kübra Uzun and has three components: A photo book titled “Guest*House”, a video titled “Once Upon A Time” and the exhibition titled “1+1: We are strong together!”.  

The photobook “Guest*House” is supported by the Consulate General of the Netherlands Istanbul, introducing photos taken by Ömer Tevfik Erten at the Trans Guesthouse. The guest house was opened by the Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association in 2013 for trans individuals who have no place to stay and were subjected to violence. The book includes a magical realist story titled ‘Unravelling A Riddle’ written by Dutch-Turkish author Defne Çizakça, in the memory of Hande Kader, the trans woman activist whose burnt body was found in the woods near Istanbul.  The book is designed by Merve Deniz.

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The video titled “Once Upon A Time” will be screened at the Consulate General of the Netherlands Istanbul. The video is prepared in the memory of Çingene Gül, a trans woman murdered in her house in Istanbul in 2014. It gives us a peek at the guests of the guest house’s search for safe space and the struggle for the sustainability of the guest house.

The exhibition titled “1+1: We are strong together!” will be hosted by Boysan’s House, a space opened in the memory of LGBTI+ activist Boysan Yakar who passed away in a car accident. Upon Ömer Tevfik Erten’s call the exhibition brings together a new generation of photographers in Turkey . Lamarts is the print sponsor of the exhibition and presents the selections of MAKHism, Dilek Yaman, Damla Atak, Nazlı Yıldırım, Şener Yılmaz Aslan, Ateş Alpar and Ömer Tevfik Erten.

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The exhibition will be launched on June 18, 19:00. A panel titled “Art and Activism” will take place at Boysan’s House with the participation of art theoretician Ezgi Bakçay and Prof. Seçkin Tercan.

Photographers who work or would like to work in the field of gender studies are invited to come together on June 20, 18:00 and participate with the exhibited artists.

All events are free of charge and open to the public.

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Book Review: Stories Under the Rainbow – Compiled real life stories from the families of LGBTI+ individuals

Stories Under the Rainbow (Gökkuşagından Hikayeler) is a book about love and family. This powerful collection of twenty-nine stories is a candid celebration of families connecting and reconnecting with, understanding and supporting their LGBTI+ child. Each story, told by a parent, reveals the many aspects in which the cultural upbringing and societal pressures of heteronormativity create unexamined and limiting belief systems that configure the world of parents for most of their lives. These long-standing belief systems, however, unexpectedly fall to pieces when their child comes out to them as LGBTI+. In these narratives, we read how many of the parents experience similar feelings that impart sadness, worry, incomprehension and indignation in reaction to a reality that at first challenges them. The challenges bring changes that alter their modes of living in positive ways. They come to realize, as they are forced to reexamine their convictions, that what they held to be true can be challenged to show other possibilities or acknowledge what is fundamentally flawed. When families find new ways to reconnect with one another, they begin to explore what it means to fully embrace, support and love their child for who they are. We read how beautifully their worlds expand in their reflections on their fears and struggles to dismantle learned homophobia and transphobia.

These narratives are also a meditation on how much our worlds and thinking are shaped by society. Many parents recount similar sentiments on how little they knew about other lives, how it was impossible for them to imagine the lives of LGBTI+ people or the fact that they even existed due to their own lack of knowledge, fear or merely holding onto misconceptions based on what they had heard from others. A parent puts it, “In this society, there are actually a lot of people who hide and suppress who they are and who do not express themselves for fear of judgement because this society is not a tolerant one.”

At first focused on denial and worry, the narratives evolve to celebrate love and life. “This process allowed me to understand and get to know all the other marginalized groups in society and learn more about the experiences of disabled people, Roma, Aleviis, Kurds and women” reflects one parent on how much their world view has expanded and adds, “I see now that the biggest hurdle in front of us is the world’s biggest terror organization. This organization, is not an armed terror organization. It is everyone.”

As someone who has come out to their parents as a trans man, it was hard to withhold tears reading about some of the coming out dialogues between the families and how time, love, and support restored many broken pieces and uprooted the barriers to understanding one another. Equally moving was the parents’ profoundly transformative journey from one of loss, confusion, and blame to one of joy, strength, and empowerment. Fully supporting their LGBTI+ child, they stand up to their neighbors, to school counselors, teachers, or their own friends, demonstrating how by becoming their child’s best ally, they are paving the way for other families to do the same.

This is a very intimate book that reminds us how much we need to hear the stories of people that are othered and marginalized in order to fight against discrimination and harmful narrow constraints of existing and living in this world. These stories inspire and ignite a powerful celebration of life in all its spectrum of colors.

Review by Lukka Alp Akarçay for LGBTI News Turkey

Not Your Turkish Delight! A compilation against hate and violence

“Not Your Turkish Delight!” exclaims the title of a compilation of tracks from independent artists of alternative music scene of Turkey. The compilation aims to bring together queer, LGBTI+ and female artists to stand against sexual violence and discrimination. Its revenues will be donated to two shelters “Transevi” in Istanbul and “Yaşamevi” in Urfa.The group of artists who made the compilation happen, plan to continue to show solidarity against the sexism, transphobia, homophobia and misogyny which have intensified in Turkey due to growing impunity of hate crime. The first 300 copies of the compilation have been on sale in live concerts and are now sold out. LGBTI News Turkey interviewed Hatice (Soft Rains of April) and Aybike (Reptilians from Andromeda) to learn more about the creation process as well as future plans. The crew is currently looking for ways to distribute the compilation abroad, to extend the solidarity globally. We are excited to see such creative and efficient ways of mobilizing solidarity against hatred and violence and hope to see sequels to this compilation as well as live performances! If you would like to help the group reach a bigger audience abroad and generate more revenues for donations, please do not hesitate to contact them through their facebook page. You can listen to Felix Drake’s interview with some of the crew members and listen to some of the songs in this episode of “Turkish Delights”, aired on Noods Radio.
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– How was the production process with the artists who supported the album with their tracks? How did you choose the tracks, were there any that were recorded exclusively for this album?

 

Aybike: The band “The Hollow Dolly” was born out of this compilation, Neon Jisatsu published their first songs in this compilation. Jtamul, Bewitched As Dark, Soft Rains Of April, Reptilians From Andromeda and Cansu Turgut’s songs were recorded for this compilation but as the other bands chose their own tracks for the compilation, I can say that they were meant to be in this compilation regardless of when they were written.

Hatice: The entire album was exciting but the tracks made for this album were as exciting as the ones submitted for the compilation. After Aybike got in touch with the musicians, she passed the tracks to me and I made a tracklist based on the tone, flow and the mood. I’m hoping the friends who submitted the songs and the listeners are happy with this order.  It was a very exciting experience for me to take place in this compilation and its construction.

– How did you come up with the idea for this compilation?

Aybike: Most of us know each other or are friends, both the compilers and the artists in the compilation. The idea for a compilation was growing in us for a while, based on the relationship we formed through sharing the negative things that happened to us or that we heard in our common spaces. It came about naturally.

Hatice: As every individual who tries to live and produce in this society, you come to the point of saying “Enough” rather easily, as you get smashed each time you take the road less traveled. The need to do something, the rage bottled up within and the cry for justice somehow directs you to a path. It is imperative that we continue to do what we know best, in order to beat back what we live through and what we witness. What we know best is music… It is our equipment, our shield, our battle axe,  and our healing power too.

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– How do you see the approach towards the issues and identities of women and LGBTI+ individuals in the independent music scene?

Aybike: Although the independent music scene looks like a community of listeners and performers standing aside gender norms, there is of course a gender inequality; because even though people act like they are against it, you can still hear them talk behind you, saying “Is this a girl or a boy?”, “Look at that”, “Tsk tsk tsk”, “I thought this one was gacıvari*”. Their faces, actions and behaviours remind you that all these labels attached to us in young age.

There are those who are indeed sincere about their intention to change gender inequality related problems and there are those who live as if these values [of being anti-discrimination] do not exist and they play the game of political correctness to avoid being mob lynched and looking bad when the women, trans individuals and queers raise their voices around the world. I can say that the discussion of these issues have increased over the last year. Both the bands and the music collectives are trying to do something.

Hatice: Aybike is quite right. For a long while there have been many collectives, initiatives, crews and people trying to be sensitive about these issues in the music sector. However, I still hope you can hear what non-male roadies, sound engineers, field managers and backstage attendants have gone through. Degendering of the sector is crucial, and in my opinion it is getting better too, thanks to the labourers of the music sector and musicians. But it is important to unite and form a sustainable, determined, unmonopolized, evolving and multiplying stance at this point. As it is hard to talk about a literally independent music world, we often witness that people look the other way just because it’s their friend, show nepotism and act like nothing happened or they even blame the victim. We can start changing things by calling things what they are.

–  Due to the current political climate, we often fall into a pit of pessimism. Beautiful collaborations such as this compilation gives us hope. How do you battle against pessimism or how do you transform it?

Aybike: You can struggle against it by not falling for the manipulation that tries to convince you that you are alone and by not being afraid…

Hatice: This is precisely how we battle against it, by standing together. Things haven’t turned sour recently, the state has always been cruel in this country, life has always been hard. The monster has always been there, even if it has taken the guise of deceitful conservatism over the last 15 years. The way to struggle against it is to accept that this is not new nor transient and to continue to be productive. It is not so difficult, it is just an idea, 4-5 people and 20 valuable musicians who will share their music with us and 4 people to burn the CDs in one evening and then onwards to distributing them… 300 CDs were sold out in just 3 months, all of the revenues went straight to the associations. Now we are trying to render this sustainable and continue to work.

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– How did you cover the cost of the album?

Aybike: Hatice, Bikem, Oya, me, Petek and Aydan split the cost among ourselves.

Hatice: We are of course trying to figure out how we can make it financially sustainable for future albums, concerts, panels and projects. None of us have infinite resources, we merely took initiative but for the future it is crucial that we maintain continuity, we don’t want it to remain a one-time thing.

– The revenues will go to Transevi and Yaşamevi, how are the sales going? Can our foreign readers support you? Would you consider selling the album on a digital platform?

Hatice: 300 copies of the first compilation are almost sold out, around 10 copies have left. We are having difficulty with payment from foreign countries due to PayPal** but we are currently looking for a solution. When we come up with a solution, we will immediately make 300 more copies, and plan for a new compilation, merch and new projects which will be accessible abroad.

How is the feedback? Would you consider to do similar projects?

Hatice: The sustainability of this project is crucial. We decided to support Transevi and Yaşamevi for the first 300 copies, we dream of increasing the number of centers we support in the future. Not your Turkish Delight must develop in different genres too, it must grow, evolve, transform and continue. This is our greatest dream.  

What can you tell our readers about being woman, queer or trans in the independent music scene in Turkey?

Hatice: It’s not so different from being a woman, queer or trans in the street, at home, school or workplace. The problems are always similar because the culprit is the same. Patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and sexism reigns all domains of our life, especially the legal system.  I could say things are bit rougher in the music scene but actually all types of violence is rough. We tried to do this through music as our first step, but of course we also plan to organize panels, workshops and events where we can talk about the discrimination and violence within the music sector.  In every field, we should start with ourselves and accept that there is a problem, and start from the people around us in trying to correct the wrong attitudes, discourses and practices, it is important to have a determined stance and continue producing in such manner. We can think more about “how”.

– Our last question is for you to give some inspiration. Some of our readers might have similar projects in mind, what would you recommend for them?

Hatice: Please realize your projects, it is precious to contribute from different branches. They can get in touch with collectives and crews like us, unfortunately there are not so many options for pinpointing a problem and moving towards a solution. It is more than enough if we can co-create, get in touch with each other and continue our journey together, each starting with one step and continuing without giving up or stopping when faced with barriers. One of our dreams is to establish a network which brings together many projects, therefore we progress by making use of the experiences and directions our friends share with us. I recommend the readers to talk, to question, there are so many people who want to do something, we are always here to support and we would love to.  

 

*Translator’s Note: gacıvari means feminine in lubunca, the queer slang in Turkish.

**Translator’s Note: PayPal does not operate in Turkey as their license was denied by BDDK, the local authority on banking and finance, in 2016.