LGBTI Activism

LGBTI rights movement in Turkey

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Group on the bans for the 9th METU Pride March

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March:

Source: The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March (ODTÜ Lgbti+ Dayanışması’nın Onur Yürüyüşüne yasak kararına ilişkin açıklaması), Lubunya Dayanışma Ağı / Lubunya Solidarity Network https://www.facebook.com/lubunyadayanismagi/photos/a.1731041177022948/2032498373543892/?type=3&theater, 7 May 2019

The METU Rectorate has sent an e-mail to all students, graduates, and academics of the university today around at 14:00. In the e-mail, the rectorate announced that the 9th METU Pride March, which is allegedly organized by “various non-governmental organizations”, shall not be permitted since it is an LGBTI+ event and there is, the rectorate claims, still a ban against the march, and it shall be met with police violence if any event is organized. In an environment where there is no such a ban, the METU Administration is trying to manipulate the situation by acting as if such a ban still exists.

It should be noted that METU LGBTI+ Solidarity which has been targeted by the police for years, would organize the 9th METU Price March on May 10. METU LGBTI+ Solidarity has made great efforts to secure gender equality, fight against LGBTI+ phobia, and ensure that the campus is a safe place for the past 23 years and shall continue doing so. Throughout the e-mail, METU Administration discriminates against METU LGBTI+ Solidarity and the LGBTI+ students pointing them out as a target, just as it has been doing for many years. This is a violation of basic human rights as well as METU’s tradition and culture. Besides, the METU Administration is in violation of international human rights agreements such as the Istanbul Convention which Turkey is a signatory of and breaches the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Governance and the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Communication that our school is a part of.

The METU Pride March is not organized by a variety of non-governmental organizations, but by METU LGBTI+ Solidarity. Presenting the demand for permission as something marginal is absurd and irrational, just like the reason for cancelling the Spring Festival last week claiming that it is because of “LGBT, Marxist, extreme leftist, HDP groups”. It is clear that this announcement fits the pro-government media or Zaytung* better. As seen from the protests demanding the Spring Festival, the administration does not represent METU traditions and thought that it could ban the march, threatening the whole METU community with police violence.

The most saddening part is that the METU Administration aspires to be a one-man regime fitting this country’s mentality of lawlessness. The bans against LGBTI+ events, imposed  both during and after the state of emergency, has been lifted by the court after stating that no ban of this extent can be introduced even during the state of emergency. In addition, CİMER (Presidential Communication Centre) has confirmed that there is no such general ban and each event shall be evaluated on its own. All the detailed statements in relation to the legal status are available as attached.

We call out to all METU people as well as those who want to protect freedoms; to the people who are against LGBTI+ phobia, sexism, discrimination, and patriarchy. Come here and let’s defend life in spite those who are full of hatred. Let’s spread our peaceful parade and rainbow celebration with marches and events for the whole of METU on May 10.

You can find detailed information relating to the legal status below:

https://tinyurl.com/lgbtiyasakkarar

METU LGBTI+ SOLIDARITY

We invite you to support with the hashtag #ODTUyeRenkVer

*Translator’s note: Zaytung is an online satirical magazine based in Turkey

Also see our article on the lifting of the LGBTI Activitities ban in Ankara and the protests on the METU campus in support of the spring festival.

QueerFest Film Festival in Cyprus

Pink Life QueerFest is an organization which creates a space for artistic expression in the context of LGBTI+ rights; brings together various art forms including cinema, performance, music and video; and organizes empowering panels, discussions, workshops, screenings and presentations.
Pink Life QueerFest is considered as a “social issues festival” in which social issues are part of the agenda and/or socially underrepresented groups are provided with a platform. The organization, which began in Ankara in 2011, uses art as a tool for activism; facilitation; documentation; empowerment; inspiration; and transformation.
As the only LGBTI+ themed art festival in Turkey, QueerFest was held in many cities around Turkey in a short period of time and was then organized in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Greece.
This year, QueerFest will also be organized in Cyprus and will start with an Opening Event on 14th May, Tuesday at 18:30 with a screening of “Gece, Melek ve Bizim Çocuklar” (The Night, Angel and Our Children). Besides the film screenings that will take place in Famagusta Castle Arcade on 16th May, Thursday, all activities will be held in Arabahmet Culture and Arts Centre.
All films are subtitled in English and Turkish.
Screenings are free of charge.
This event is organised with the support of the Grow Civic Programme financed by the European Union.
QUEERFEST FILM FESTIVAL CYPRUS PROGRAMME

May 14, Tuesday 
Venue: Arabahmet Kültür & Sanat Evi
18:30 Opening Ceremony
19:15 Screening: The Night, Angel and Our Children
21:00 Discussion: The Night, Angel and Our Queers
May 15, Wednesday 
Venue: Arabahmet Kültür & Sanat Evi
19:00 Screening: Short Films at the Intersection of Queerness and Dis/ability
20:30 Screening: Hatewalk, 72′
21:45 Workshop: Sex Workers Rights

May 16, Thursday 
Venue: Famagusta Castle Arcade
19:00 Screening: Queerdom of Memories Shorts Selection
20:30 Our Memories, Our Histories

May 17, Friday 
Venue: Arabahmet Kültür & Sanat Evi
19:00 Screening: Queer Cyprus Special Shorts Selection
21:00 Screening: Her Story
For further information:
http://www.queercyprus.org/…/queerfest-film-festival-cyprus/

*The schedule is taken from the organizer’s event page.

Cyprus Pride March – Out and Proud 2019 

“We are at school, home, parliament, street; everywhere!

Pride Marches started with the initiative of Queer Cyprus Association for the first time in 2014, have been organized by the 17th May Organizing Committee with multi-stakeholders since 2016 and growing stronger every year. 17th of May draws attention to the rights and freedoms of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI +) on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in order to emphasize the importance of working together and combating; We celebrate the day of action against physical, psychological, economic violence against sexual orientation and gender identity with various activities every year.
When the subject comes to the rights and freedoms, we are opposed with an excuse that “Society is not ready.”, we walked with the slogan “We are READY”. As heteronormativity among the society is counted as normal and our loves toward the same gender are ignored, we rebelled with the “Should We Love and turn in to Stone”. In order to honor our ever-growing and getting more colorful combat, we said: “Neither our Combat is finished nor Love”. This year, we have been organizing a series of diverse events over a period of two weeks with the theme of “Out and Proud”. We have been organizing to remind you that we are here.

The foundations of the pressure on gender identity and sexual orientation are the same as the patriarchal system that creates wars and violence. Therefore, we remind that all combats involve LGBTI + struggle as well.

We stand up for that our problems can be visible as long as we are organized while keeping in mind that no one can be forced to come out. For the recognition of our rights in front of the law, we come out to the public sphere against discrimination in the workplace and we say “We are Here” with all our colors and diversity against the heterosexist binary gender repression.

We stand against ignoring policies based on rising violence against women in our country, rising xenophobia, gender identity, and sexual orientation, we are once again reminded that our combat is not separate from our love and once again, we are organizing with our political parties, non-governmental organizations and independent activists from all over our geography and carrying our struggle to the street. This year, we are beginning our series of events with “Out and Proud Party Vol 1” on Saturday, May 4 at Famagusta Old Arcade. and the next day continuing with a picnic and thematic discussion named “Protestainment and Genus Talks” at Çamlık, Famagusta.
On Tuesday, 7th of May, the “Three Generation” film will be screened at Nicosia Party Headquarters by Social Democracy Party. On Tuesday, 8th of May, “Avenue Q” musical, which, is born in Broadway, will meet with the audience at METU Northern Cyprus Campus.

LGBTI + and Class Struggle” discussion organized by Baraka Cultural Center on Thursday, May 9 will be held in Nicosia Arabahmet Culture and Art House with Kaos GL activist Remzi Altunpolat.

Community Party – Gender Equality Committee will organize an Exhibition named “Dramaqueer” on Friday, May 10 and it will be held in Nicosia Arabahmet Culture and Art House. On the same day, the 2nd party will be taken place with Drag Theme Shows at Nicosia Papa Bar.

On Saturday, 11th of May, Slogans, and banners that going to be used on Pride March will be prepared at Queer Cyprus Association.
This year, as in the previous year, the European Mediterranean Art Association (EMAA)’s “Queer Art Exhibition” will be opened on Monday, May 13th.
“KuirFest Cyprus Film Festival”, will be organized by Queer Cyprus Association and Pink Life Association for the first time this year and Festival will start with the opening cocktail and “Night, Angel and Our Children” movie screening on Tuesday, 14th of May and continue till 17th of May, Friday. 16th of May, Movie Screening will be held on Famagusta Old City Arcade and rest of the days, the event will be held in Nicosia Arabahmet Culture and Art House with Turkish and English subtitles.

The Pride March will start in front of Dereboyu Suitex on Saturday, 18th of May and end at Lefkeliler Inn. Right after the Pride March, we will have fun and dance until late with music. We invite everyone to our activities and march to combat against all forms of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

17th May Organizing Committee:
Queer Cyprus Association, Independence Way, Baraka Cultural Centre, CTP Youth Organization, HP-TCEK, Collective for Woman Education, Socialist Democracy Party TOCEK and Youth Organization, European Mediterranean Art Association (EMAA), Mesarya Women Initiative, MAGEM, NEDA, and independent activists.”

 

The statement for Cyprus Pride March is taken from the event page.

LISTAG reestablishes itself as an association

LISTAG, Lezbiyen, Gey, Biseksüel, Trans, İnterseks Aileleri ve Yakınları Grubu, (The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex Family and Friends Group) has reestablished itself as an official association in Turkey, registering itself with the Directorate of Associations under the Ministry of Interior.

LISTAG offers family support to the parents and relatives of LGBTI+ individuals in Turkey. With meetings across the country, the organization offers much needed support. Counseling and a support network offered by LISTAG helps parents and family members confront their biases as well as understand and accept their loved ones as they are.

In 2013, LISTAG produced the “My Child” documentary, a film based on interviews with many of the parents involved in the organization. The film shows the incredible ways in which LISTAG has helped empower the parents as well the LGBTI+ individuals themselves through the support network.

In a statement on why LISTAG has decided to take this step the organization explained that:

“We had a yearlong experience being an association between 2015-2016 but when we realized that we did not have the human resources or the mentality to sustain the association, we terminated it. Since then LISTAG has grown bigger across Turkey with new people joining in. There arose the need for a corporate body which brings together LGBTI+ families and friends.  We believe that individuals and names are transitory, what matters is to leave a sustainable structure behind. Our first task will be to improve and strengthen our institutional capacity and human resources. Our aim is to reach more families with LGBTI+ children, to support them and to continue the LGBTI+ rights struggle in Turkey as an alliance.”

Being registered as an association has a variety of legal benefits including allowing the organization to open commercial offices and earn revenues. Registered organizations also have more opportunities to lobby, apply for grants and collaborate with government bodies.  Official recognition also strengthens the visibility of the LGBTI+ movement in Turkey.

Hatred at TİHEK Symposium: “Indecencies such as [being] LGBT….”

TİHEK (Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey) is supposed to work against discrimination but continues to discriminate. At the symposium organized by TİHEK, LGBTI+ people were targeted: “Indecencies such as [being] LGBT are attempts to undermine humankind, its nature and family.”

Source: “Hatred at TİHEK* Symposium: ‘Indecencies such as LGBT….’” (“TİHEK sempozyumunda nefret: ‘LGBT vb. hayasızlıklar…’), Yıldız Tar, kaosgl.org, https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28165&fbclid=IwAR1bjPk3iKhd4fbSpMK10tskswIz6vESm7SKXc28LU-U0vtuQYUaS7tle9o, April 30, 2019.

TİHEK had recently rejected the application of two trans women, claiming that “sexual identity is not considered as a basis of discrimination”. The institution is meant to protect individuals against discrimination yet does not recognize gender identity and sexual orientation based discrimination. This time, the institution demonstrated a discriminatory attitude at its conference titled “International Symposium on the Right to Protect Family” with the motto “It’s Time for Family”.

On the first day of the symposium (April 29), speaker Prof. Dr. Orhan Çeker said “Indecencies like [being] LGBT are attempts to undermine humankind, its nature and family. I believe that the church and the synagogue would stand against these indecencies as well, and we should struggle against it together if necessary”.

TİHEK also shared these statements on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The symposium continues today [April 30,2019] with speakers including Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator in Turkey.

TİHEK member spews hatred

Last year, the Former Chair of the Prime Ministery Human Rights Office and Member of TİHEK Board Mehmet Altuntaş targeted Pride Walk through is social media account.

He had written “What pride, what love? Love happens between two different sexes. Both the divine creation and nature says this. This is a regression. It’s regressing back from nature towards savagery”, as a comment under Amnesty International’s tweet about Istanbul Pride Walk.

Following Altuntaş’s homophobic statements Pink Life Association has applied to the Ombudsman Institution.

TIHEK Law itself is discriminatory!

TİHEK was established by a law published in 2016. The decision making body of the institution was defined to be a Human Rights and Equality Board in Turkey.

The institution discriminates against LGBTI+ individuals as it ignores discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Turkish law bans all discrimination based on sexuality, race, color, language, religion, sect, philosophical and political view, ethnic origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health condition, disability and age. Yet the law does not include sexual orientation and gender identity.

How was TİHEK founded?

Laws drafted on the establishment of Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey were examined by GNAT Human Rights Commission on February 2016. CHP and HDP’s demand to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the law was not accepted in a homophobic reaction from AKP. HDP subsequently withdrew from the  commission’s work.

The draft excluding sexual orientation and gender identity based discrimination could have been sent to the lower commission, yet was forwarded to the Assembly to be voted directly after the commission’s review, due to AKP’s persistence. Thus, the detailed examination of the draft by the lower commission was prevented. Neither civil society nor the opposition parties were allowed sufficient time to present their motions.

There were arguments at the commission meetings for the draft prepared by the government, which neglects LGBTI individuals and their demands while banning discrimination based on sexuality, race, color, language, religion, sect, philosophical and political view, ethnic origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health condition, disability and age

50 LGBTI organizations published a joint statement, saying “Do not discriminate against the gays, bisexuals, trans and intersex individuals in the Human Rights and Equality Institution Law!”

Civil society organisations started a petition against the Law Draft on the Human Rights and Equality Institution which excludes human rights platforms from the procedure and discriminates against LGBTI individuals.

Organisations addressed GNAT, stating “We, as the CSOs working for human rights, struggle against discrimination and equality in Turkey, would like to call attention to the fact that there is no possibility for the structure and framework envisioned by the draft to realize the aims and functions indicated in its premises”.

Intersex Session at the 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress

Source: “Intersex Session at 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress,” (3. Üreme Sağlığı Çalışma Kolu Kongresi’nden “interseks” oturumu), kaosgl.org, April 22, 2019, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28115

Şerife Yurtseven from Intersex Anatolia and Caner Yavuz from Intersex Turkey spoke at the 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress organized by the Turkish Medical Students Association.

Şerife Yurtseven from Intersex Anatolia and Caner Yavuz from Intersex Turkey were speakers at the 3rd Reproductive Health Task Force Congress organized by the Turkish Medical Students Association on April 20-21.

The congress was organized for the first time in 2011. To raise medical students’ awareness on reproductive health, it focuses on issues related to HIV/AIDS as well as sexuality/gender.

Şerife Yurtseven from Intersex Anatolia and Caner Yavuz from Intersex Turkey shared what it means to be intersex with doctor candidates in the session named, “Gender Limits in Medicine”. By sharing experiences, the speakers talked about ethical concerns regarding the treatment of intersex people.

Yurtseven and Yavuz pointed out the importance of providing psychosocial support to parents of intersex children; and mentioned that doctors should not objectify intersex bodies by disregarding intersex rights and categorizing them using a binary gender system.

A Cardboard Tractor Model with Rainbows in METU

After the rector of the Middle East Technical University cancelled the 33rd International Spring Festival, METU Student Clubs gathered together in front of the Rectorate building yesterday [on April 16, 2019].

Source: A Cardboard Tractor Model with Rainbows in METU (ODTÜ’de gökkuşaklı traktör maketi) Özgür Gür, Kaos GL, April 17, 2019, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28080

METU Student Clubs, including METU LGBTI+ Solidarity, grouped together in front of the Rectorate building yesterday (April 16), after the rector cancelled the 33rd International Spring Festival.

Over 2 thousand students protested throughout the day against the cancellation of the traditional spring festival which has been organized in METU since 1987. At the press statement made during the protest, it was highlighted that the festival should continue to be celebrated in METU Revolution Stadium.

Rector discriminates against the students

During the statement, it was announced that the rector Versan Kök, who cancelled the festival using discriminatory language with the claim that “the student clubs decided to waive their demands for the festival after meeting with several LGBTI, Marxist, Extreme Leftist, and HDP supporter groups”, which points out the students as the target. During the protest, it was emphasised that all the METU Clubs stand together against all discriminatory acts. As the clubs that signed the statement were being announced the METU Media Club and the METU LGBTI+ Solidarity were applauded for quite some time .

“LGBTI, Marxist, Extreme Leftist, HDP supporter” tractor in METU

One of the spotlights during the protest was a cardboard tractor model. The tractor was covered with a rainbow flag and designed with the colours of the transgender flag.

The tractor with a plate written “06 Extreme Leftist” was dedicated to the rector’s words “they even wanted a tractor”.