LGBTI Employment

Employment issues for LGBTI in Turkey

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

 

Toprak: “As a trans woman and a medical student, I want to be able to easily do my job”

Toprak, a 22-year-old medical faculty student, says, “I want a world where trans people are not burned to death, but a world where they are successful.”

Source: “As a trans woman and a medical student, I want to be able to easily do my job”, (Tıp Okuyan Bir Trans Kadın Olarak Mesleğimi Rahatça Yapabilmek İstiyorum), bianet.org, July 21, 2018, http://bianet.org/biamag/toplumsal-cinsiyet/199361-tip-okuyan-bir-trans-kadin-olarak-meslegimi-rahatca-yapabilmek-istiyorum

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Toprak is a 22-year-old medical faculty student. She has two more years before she graduates. She is trying to obtain a new identity card as a woman before she graduates because she wants her diploma to belong to her and not to state a gender identity assigned to her at birth.

Toprak was born in Antep. She attained a high score in the university entrance exam and came to Istanbul five years ago to study at the Istanbul Faculty of Medicine.

Toprak needs financial support in order to have gender reassignment surgery. She started a crowdsourcing campaign to accomplish this.

When she becomes a doctor she wants to be able to proudly hang her diploma on her office wall. She is worried that she will not get appointed and be discriminated against as a civil servant because of the male gender identity marker on her ID card.

Toprak says: “I want to break down prejudices and show people what transwomen can achieve. Transgender people are studying in many different fields. As a transwoman, I want to easily be able to do my job. I need people’s support to be able to have this gender reassignment surgery. I want a world where trans people are not burned to death, but a world where they are successful.”

As a transwoman and medical student, Toprak spoke with Bianet about her university life, future plans and her gender transition process.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Toprak and I am 22 years old. I am a fifth year medical student at Istanbul Faculty of Medicine. I am a transwoman.

Have you always lived in Istanbul?

No, I was born in Gaziantep. I passed the exam and got into a science-focused high school and studied there for four years before coming to Istanbul for university. I have been living in Istanbul for the past five years.

How is university life?

The first two years were quiet because I hadn’t started my transition process yet and I wasn’t out. I was identifying myself as gay back then. A year later, being openly gay, I started experiencing difficulties, mostly with my family. These did not have much of an impact on my university life. Because of their educational and cultural backgrounds, I did not actually receive any negative reactions from professors or fellow students.

I had only one traumatic transition process experience.

We read about this on social media. A professor at Istanbul University made transphobic statements. Where you in that class? Could you tell us what happened?

Yes. A professor was teaching hypogonadism and talking about pituitary glands, endocrine hormones, testosterone, and estrogen. The topic had nothing to do with transsexuality, but I got the feeling that it was going there.

The professor brought up the topic of transsexuality and said “Men without ovaries come and say, ‘I’m going to be a woman.’ These people are psychopaths. Upon receiving them, we refer them to psychiatry.”

He took out his ID card from his wallet and said, “Here’s a blue ID card. They work so hard to get a pink ID card. There were 250 students in the lecture hall. I was sitting at the back and the professor did not know I was trans. About 70-80 students busted into laughter together with the professor.

I stood up and said, “who are you calling a psychopath? I’m a transwoman.” He was surprised because he did not expect that there would be a transwoman in the lecture hall. He turned around and continued reading from his slides.

I said he needed to explain his statement in front of everybody since he had said this in front of everybody. He said “come and see me after class and I will explain this to you.”

This person is an endocrinologist, meaning he is working in an area that concerns trans people. It really baffles me why nobody ever complained about him because he is an extremely transphobic guy.

Did anybody in the lecture hall say anything?

No. So I shared what happened. I did not expect this to get around so quickly. I assumed people in the LGBT community would hear about it and that people would know about this person.

Things took a different turn when the Turkish Medical Association (TMA) began to support me.

How did the TMA support you?

I shared the incident on Twitter. Doctors from the TMA saw my tweet. They invited me to their board meeting and were very attentive. Their support came a few days after the incident. During those four days, I experienced some negativity at school.

What happened? I’m curious to know how the administration and students responded?

Medical students have a kind of a political stance…Actually, they don’t have a political stance, and they are apolitical. They put their careers first and ignore everything else. They treat people neither positively nor negatively. They are neutral. The university has a similar stance. They choose to remove themselves from the current affairs of the country.

That is why they tried to maintain neutrality, but the feminist club at the university showed great support. They wrote a piece, collected signatures from 11 other clubs and published the statement. I did not experience bullying or any kind of verbal violence. Apart from Twitter, I received a great amount of support.

How did the university administration deal with this?

Initially, they started an investigation against me.

Why did they start an investigation?

Because I had disclosed what the professor said.

Did they warn the professor?

No, they gave him no warning until the TMA stepped in. They treated the incident as if we were in elementary school. They called me in and asked, “Why did you do this? This should have stayed between us. Why did you have to tell everyone?” I felt terrible and I cried that day.

Later, my phone rang and the TMA invited me to their board meeting. Once the news reached the TMA, people in the medical community heard the professor’s transphobic statement. Then celebrities heard about it and they shared their reactions on social media. I never imagined so many people would hear about it.

How did these events impact the investigation started against you?

I found out that the investigation was dropped and that an investigation against the professor had opened instead.

I was a witness in the professor’s investigation and he also gave a statement. Honestly, it felt good to see that he was waiting at the door to explain himself.

Then they said he was penalized.

What was his penalty?

I’m not exactly sure, but they said that the professor was no longer authorized to give oral assessments for internal medicine. Internal medicine is a very important field and to give the oral assessment is considered a huge honor.

During this process, solidarity felt great. When I saw the power of solidarity, I decided to get funding for my surgery. A friend, studying architecture, said she started a campaign for herself and advised me to do the same. I decided to start a campaign because I urgently need to have my surgery.

Why is this so urgent for you?

Unfortunately, currently my ID card has the male gender marker. Surgery is a requirement to change your gender marker on your ID in Turkey.

Without having a female gender identity marker, I worry that I won’t be appointed. Over the past two years, there have been state security investigations against doctors. I worry that having a male gender identity marker on my ID card will impact my appointment. I am a fifth year medical student who will be graduating soon. That’s why I want to have my surgery before graduation.

The main problem for trans people regarding their diploma is the name written on it. It is necessary to change your name before graduating. If you change your name after you graduate, then there is no indication that the diploma belongs to you, making it almost null. I changed my name on my ID card recently. I started my transition a year ago and everything progressed quickly.

Which area do you want to specialize in?

Internal medicine or gynaecology. Fields such as psychiatry and surgery are important for LGBT people, but you need to have really good grades to be in these fields. We’ll see.

You spent this year working. What was your hospital experience like?

We spend many years studying, but after our third year we get to work and I like that we get to be in direct contact with patients and not spend much time at school.

Many of my professors and other students support me.

There is a certain perception of trans woman in society and when you do not fit that perception, they do not call you a trans woman. So far, I have not experienced any negative reactions from patients because they do not know that I am trans.

I used to shy away from patients having seen how patients’ relatives attack health workers.

The other day, one relative of a patient hit a doctor on the head with a brick. Imagine what a person might do to a trans woman…

This is why I do not disclose my trans identity to patients.

Could you tell us about what the transition process is like as both a medical student and as someone experiencing this?

You apply to psychiatry at a public hospital. In Istanbul you can apply to Çapa or Cerrahpaşa. They observe you for at least six months and first refer you to psychiatry and then to endocrinology. At endocrinology you get a hormone test and then you start taking hormones. This process takes about a year.

Social Security Insurance (SSI = public medical insurance) covers everything except hormone medications. Hormone medications cost about 150-200 TL a month. Doctors have now started to write medical reports for hormone medications. As a result, SSI covers hormone medications too.

What is the hormone therapy process like?

(For trans women) You take out testosterone from the body and take in estrogen. The hormones impact you. Your emotions change. The hormone perceived by the receptors change, in other words, the codes change.

For instance, when the lecture hall incident happened, I was feeling very vulnerable because it had been a few months that I had been taking hormones.

This continues for the first six months before your body starts adapting. I don’t feel like that anymore.

Does the surgery process start after that?

The most important thing is the surgery. At this point, transmen are luckier because mastectomy (removal of breasts) and hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) are operations covered by SSI. Because these operations include removing of a part, the procedure is the same for any doctor. But surgeries such as vaginoplasty are highly risky since they involve creating something out of nothing.

SSI does cover this operation but there are no doctors who perform the procedure under this insurance. Even if there is a doctor out there who performs the operation under this insurance, it is really difficult to trust that doctor.

Why?

 

In medical school they do not teach you anything about transgender transition processes. If the person wishes, they self educate themselves after they graduate. If that person has no training, s/he cannot do the operation.

Doctors who specialize in these surgeries must be well known in the trans community then.

Yes. Because this operation is very important, I want to go to a good doctor to have my operation. One trans woman died at an operation two years ago. She was an activist and was living in Izmir. They said she died due to a complication that had derived from her. If the doctor had made a mistake, he would have been penalized anyway.

What kinds of complications arise during an operation like this?

There are complications that are repairable and complications that are more severe. Infections and clitoris dryness are the most common complications that are repairable. One friend didn’t go to a good doctor and got infected; had the surgery again and was hospitalized for three weeks. Another friend had clitoris dryness because the nerve cells were not stitched together well; she had a second operation and was hospitalized for a month.

I do not want to go through any complications. Also, I do not want to disrupt my studies. Attendance is compulsory.

How much does gender reassignment surgery cost?

About 20-30 thousand Turkish lira(3,600-5,400 Euro).

Fear of losing job prevents reporting discrimination

According to the report titled “LGBTI+ Individuals Employed in the Private Sector”; LGBTI+ employees can’t access their rights against discrimination because they fear they may lose their jobs and face new problems if they reveal their gender identity.

Source: “Fear of losing job prevents reporting discrimination(“İşini kaybetme korkusu ayrımcılığı bildirmeyi engelliyor”), Yıldız Tar, kaosgl.org, April 20, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25639

A recently published report by Kaos GL focuses on “the situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Individuals employed in the private sector in 2017”.

This report reveals that only 17% of the LGBTI+ employees are completely ‘out’ and 65% of them had to either deal with discrimination in the workplace or had to hide their identity. In addition to statistical figures, the LGBTI+ employees’ stories and testimonies are also included in the report. These explanations unveil what they have experienced in the private sector.

The participants were asked questions like: “Did you inform the union or the judicial authorities about the discriminatory incidents you’ve been exposed to? How did the process go/develop? If you didn’t, why?”

According to the survey, the authorities were not notified of any incident involving direct or indirect discrimination, a potential discriminatory environment or the need for supportive intervention.

“Fear of losing jobs and the possibility of having to pay a higher cost prevent reporting discrimination.”

In the survey, the situation is explained like this:

“Generally speaking, the attitude represented by our participants against discrimination at the workplace is consistent with the results of our last year’s survey. LGBTI+ employees can’t seek their rights against discrimination because they may lose their jobs, there is the possibility of having to pay a higher cost, fear of revealing their gender identity, the difficulties they may face out of work and other similar reasons. A significant finding is the lack of belief in protecting institutions regarding the protection of their rights against discrimination for LGBTI+ employees. The reason behind this can be the inadequacy in either institutional or legal approaches. For many LGBTI+ employees struggling with discrimination in the workplace may result in severe discrimination or in some situations for them to experience anxiety outside of the workplace and means that many remain silent.

The stories: I didn’t apply, because…

The testimonies in this research reveal the difficulties LGBTI+ employees experience when reporting a discriminative act:

“I made a report to the company’s management. I continued being exposed to transphobia; but unfortunately, I chose to keep quiet because I was afraid I’d lose my job.” (a heterosexual trans man working as an expert in the construction/architecture sector)

“I think it’s pointless to report such incident because we are working for the bosses in the union that I’m affiliated with.” (a gay man working as a worker in the food industry)

“No, in such situation my family would find out too.” (a gay man working as service staff in the entertainment industry)

“I didn’t apply because I don’t believe I can get a result out of it and the law of this country is not equal for everybody.” (a bisexual man working as service staff in the retail sector)

Having to hide oneself is discrimination too

Here are some examples of the responses of the participants who declared that in order not be exposed to discrimination they had to hide their gender identity:

“Should we report or continue hiding? Even if the authorities were informed, it is not hard to guess how painful the procedure would be and how one would be dragged into disappointment.” (a bisexual woman working as a specialist in the health sector)

“I didn’t inform the judicial authorities because I thought I didn’t have enough information and that the result wouldn’t be positive.” (a gay man working as a middle-level manager in an NGO)

“Even if I face it, I don’t think I can find a solution.” (a lesbian woman working as an assistant specialist in banking/finance sector)

The research for 2018 has started.

Work on the questionnaire for 2018’s report has started. This year the study is being conducted together with the Centre for Gender and Women’s Research at Kadir Has University.

This questionnaire consists of 24 questions and promises confidentiality for LGBTI+ employees. This questionnaire does not ask for a name or the company’s name and provides a better understanding of the specific priorities and needs of LGBTI+ employees and companies which take up the cause for gender mainstreaming.

After this information is analysed, an evaluation report will be prepared by comparing it with similar examples in the USA and Germany.

The comparative report will create information on awareness raising and capacity building activities for the private sector and civil society. The report will also provide encourage the development of employment gender equality policies for LGBTI+ employees.

Constitutional Court Deputy Chair’s final remarks on the verdict of a gay soldier: “It is neither the state’s business nor anyone else’s.”

The Constitutional Court’s verdict found the Martial Penal Code’s ruling of expulsion from the Armed Forces for soldiers having homosexual relations to be in compliance with the Constitution. Constitutional Court Deputy Chair Yıldırım in his disagreement to the ruling attached a comment suggesting that this does not concern anyone: “Are these people less valuable or less dignified than others due to their sexual orientations?”

Source: “Constitutional Court Deputy Chair’s final remarks on the verdict of a gay soldier: ‘It is neither the state’s business nor anyone else’s.’ “ (“AYM Başkanvekili’nden eşcinsel asker kararına şerh: Ne devleti ne de başkalarını ilgilendirir”) , Sputnik, February 20, 2018, http://tr.sputniknews.com/amp/turkiye/201802201032328510-aym-escinsel-asker-serh-/

The detailed ruling of the Constitutional Court (AYM) on the issue was published in the Official Court Gazette. According to the ruling, a public action was filed against a soldier due to his homosexual orientation, with the allegation of ‘engaging in unnatural intimacy’. The Chamber of the 1. Military Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Martial Penal Code’s rule which states: “Soldiers engaging in unnatural intimacy with someone are subject to the sentence of expulsion from Turkish Armed Forces and soldiers are to be stripped of their rank” is against the Constitution and applied to Constitutional Court for the cancellation of the law.

‘ EXPULSION FROM TURKISH ARMED FORCES DOES NOT ACCORD WITH THE SENSE OF JUSTICE’
Deputy Chair Yıldırım’s objection to the verdict, stated that it does not accord with a sense of justice to sentence soldiers who engage in ‘unnatural sexual behaviour’ with expulsion from Turkish Armed Forces, without concrete justifications of these behaviours leading to disruption of the discipline or dishonoring the dignity of the armed forces.

‘DISPROPORTIONATE INTERVENTION IN THE DEMAND FOR RESPECT FOR PRIVACY’

Yıldırım further stressed that the expulsion of someone from their profession based on their sexual activities constitutes a disproportionate intervention in their right to demand respect of privacy. The text also states that it was against the principle of equality to sentence soldiers to expulsion for engaging in actions considered ‘unnatural intimacy’. It was pointed out that people employed in security directorates, the justice system or religious services are not subject to such heavy sentences.

The constitutional Court has carried out the principal examination of the application, rejecting the demand for cancellation of the regulation in question.

‘THE CONSTITUTION CAN LIMIT THE PRIVATE LIFE ON CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES’

The justification of the constitutional court ruling stated that although everyone has right to demand respect for personal and family life according to the Constitution, however there can be limitations to the protection of private life in certain circumstances and that this right is not considered to be absolute.

The text also suggested that fundamental rights and liberties can only be limited by law and based on the circumstances envisioned only by the constitution without infringing on their essences, and that these limitations can not be in discordance with the principle of proportionality and prerequisites for a democratic social order.

‘ IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE IN ALL SOCIETIES’

The ruling explained that the regulation in question prohibited ‘engagement in unnatural intimacies’. The clause ‘engaging in unnatural intimacies’ being defined as ‘demonstrating unnatural sexual behaviour’ and suggested: “Such sexual behaviours can emerge in a myriad of ways and can be different from person to person or from society to society. As indicated on the Constitutional Court’s verdict dated April 1, 2015, said behaviours are sexual behaviours which have negative impacts on the moral standards of the society and can not be considered natural in all social orders”.

‘TO PROTECT THE DIGNITY AND HONOUR OF THE PROFESSION’
Yet it was also suggested that the principal objective of the penal sanction stipulated on the Martial Penal Code is to protect and to maintain the military discipline, that the sanctions on the soldiers aims to sustain the public order and productive and active work, to establish discipline and to protect the dignity and honour of the profession.

ANNOTATION BY DEPUTY CHAIR: REFERENCE TO ECHR

Constitutional Court Deputy Chair Engin Yıldırım, did not agree with the majority’s view. The Deputy Chair referred to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) verdicts and recommendations as well as international conventions regarding the struggle against gender based discrimination in his opposing vote note.

‘VERDICT CONTRADICTS WITH CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS’

Yıldırım emphasized that up until recently societies considered sexual relations among same sex individuals to be unnatural sexual behaviours, defined these acts as ‘disease’ or ‘perversion’, subjecting them to penal sanctions and wrote “As the understanding of human rights and social approaches improved, this [view] started to change. The evaluation of homosexual relationships as ‘unnatural intimacies’ contradicts with the contemporary developments in human rights”.

CONCRETE EXAMPLES SHOULD BE GIVEN

Yıldırım stressed that the ECHR came to the conclusion that expulsion from the army solely based on homosexuality or homosexual relations is against the European Convention of Human Rights. Yıldırım also stated that if it is alleged that the employment of homosexuals in armed forces is a risk to military discipline and operational activity then the premises for such suggestion should be put forward with concrete examples.

‘STEREOTYPES and PREJUDICES…’

Yıldırım based his rejection on the below reflections:
“The subjection of the soldier to expulsion from the Turkish Armed Forces due to the regulation in question, is not based on professional inadequacy or a related cause but is based on the person’s behaviours or preferences related to the person’s private life. This, excluding extremely exceptional circumstances, is neither the state’s nor anyone else’s concern. In a democratic system the majority should not ignore the fundamental rights and liberties of LGBTI individuals who are deemed a sexual minority. The regulation in question ignores the dignity of the soldiers with different sexual orientation, in the name of protecting the dignity of the military profession. The regulation in question reflects the stereotypes and deep prejudices regarding the LGBTI individuals which have been calcified in social life systematically throughout the history, resulting in the reproduction of said prejudices. People are valuable solely because they are humans and human dignity is a birthright, it makes the people worthy of respect, of value and of irrevocable rights based on their humanity. Are these people less valuable, less dignified because of their sexual orientations? “

Bianet: Fifth hearing of “Mobbing in GAP” case: “I have homosexual friends too”

Attorney for GAP, on trial for its practice of mobbing against a homosexual employee, claimed that Istanbul LGBTI was trying to build its reputation through the case. The association stated “We will not let our spaces of work be destroyed, they are already limited to begin with”.

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “GAP’te Mobbing Davasında 5. Celse: ‘Benim de Eşcinsel Arkadaşlarım Var”, bianet, November 9, 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/191391-gap-te-mobbing-davasinda-5-celse-benim-de-escinsel-arkadaslarim-var

U.S.-based textile company GAP’s Turkey branch is on trial for practising mobbing against a homosexual employee. The fifth hearing took place today at Istanbul Ninth Labour Court today (Nov. 9).

A homosexual man, store manager who had been working in the Kanyon Mall branch of GAP for nearly ten years, resigned in early 2015 when he had started to experience mobbing after the regional manager M.A’s arrival.

The gay employee says that someone had filed a complaint with the ethics department of the company based on his sexual orientation and that he was warned during meetings with phrases such as “Are you a man?”, “Be a man”. The employee later sued the firm for mobbing with the help of Istanbul LGBTI Association.

At the hearing GAP’s attorney claimed that Istanbul LGBTI filed a lawsuit against the global company in order to make a name for itself. On the minutes of the hearing, Istanbul LGBTI was stated as a “sexual LGBT association.”

Istanbul LGBTI’s Chair Kıvılcım Arat told bianet “We regard this case not as a mobbing lawsuit filed by an individual, but an exemplary case in which we defend everyone who has been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and identity. We will not let our spaces of work be destroyed, they are already limited to begin with.”

Complaint against homosexuality with the company’s ethics department

At the second hearing today, a witness for the plaintiff and another for GAP were heard. The witness for the plaintiff stated that he is homosexual as well and that he witnessed the gossip about the plaintiff, suggesting that both himself and the plaintiff were subject to mobbing due to their homosexuality. The witness also stated that there was a rumor about himself and the plaintiff staying in a hotel in Bartın together and that one employee sent an e-mail to the company’s ethics department [based] on this rumor.

The witness for GAP, the regional manager M.A, said that there was no discrimination at the company “based on religion, language or race”, that he had not witnessed any cases of mobbing against the plaintiff and that this person left his job of his own will.

GAP’s attorney also claimed that the report written by the Council of Forensic Medicine which states that the plaintiff was psychologically affected by the mobbing is not scientific.

The next hearing where other witnesses will be heard will be on February 28, at 11:50.

Istanbul LGBTI: We will not be “men”, we will be humans!

In its statement on the case, Istanbul LGBTI underlined the fact that the GAP company is known for its global social responsibility campaigns against homophobia and gender discrimination, stating “Every barrier you build against our right to work strengthens our determination for struggle and our spaces of solidarity! We will not be “men”, we will be humans! And we will take you out of the darkness created by manhood into the light of being human!”.

The association’s chair, Arat, emphasized the lack of awareness about mobbing in the Turkish judiciary and said:

“This case has been continuing for the last three years and in each hearing GAP finds an excuse and pushes for postponement. GAP’s headquarters in the USA does not make any explanation about the mobbing against the employees in Turkey and about the fact that the forensic report proved the practice.

“What we have seen is that GAP’s policies for the USA and Europe are highly different than that of the Middle East. We had a brief talk with GAP’s attorney after the hearing. They said that they have homosexual friends too. So I said I have heterosexual friends too.

“When I think of the current state of the justice system in Turkey, I can’t really predict the outcome of the trial. We sued Alperen Hearths and Muslim Anatolia Youth under the state of emergency circumstances and it was the first ever case of ‘inciting the public to hatred and rage’ against the fascists -an article which is generally used against the oppositional voices. We will also be following this trial.”

KaosGL: The rumour that he was “spreading homosexuality” and the expulsion that followed

Assist. Prof. Çağlar Deniz told KaosGL.org the process that prepared the ground for his expulsion via delegated legislation: “Two academicians who built sentences like ‘I heard you went to a gay bar’, ‘He is spreading homosexuality’, or ‘He is propagating against national and sentimental values with his qualification as a theologian’ about me”

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Source: Yıldız Tar, “‘Eşcinselliği yayıyor’ dedikodusu ve ardından gelen ihraç” KaosGL, July 19, 2017 http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24233

Assist. Prof. Caglar Deniz from the Department of Sociology, Usak University, who is among the academicians who have been expelled via the latest delegated legislation, has told KaosGL.org the process that led to expulsion.

“Even my gender class has been made an issue of investigation”

Graduated from Imam Hatip High School ( religious vocational high school) and Theology, Deniz, who is a member of the Education and Science Workers’ Union, has a PhD in Sociology. Lecturing also on gender, Deniz stated that he had been a victim of mobbing in 2017 at the university:

“I find it unnecessary to say that I have earned a full hundred points at the academic initiative application despite all of the mobbings by the university administration in the year 2017. Even the concept of ‘phallic structure’ that I discussed in the gender class has been made an issue of investigation.”

“After my post on being expelled via the delegated legislation, I received calls and messages of consolation from very different social groups ranging from supporters of People’s Democratic Party, of Justice and Development Party, to Romanis and Kurds, to the religious and the agnostic.”

“My only difference from all the other tens of thousands of delegated legislation victims is my finding out about the content of the FETO (Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization) investigation, gotten prepared by the president of Usak University who is under arrest since December 2016 with the charge of being a member of FETO, my making an allegation about the incident, suing for damages, and demanding an investigation from the Council of Higher Education (YOK) via the Prime Ministry Communication Centre.

“People I asked to be heard in may favour have not been heard”

Deniz explained the content of the file he ‘submitted to justice’ as follows:

“According to the file I submitted to justice as well, I pointed out that I could not belong to any religious cult or community. People I asked to be heard in may favour have not been heard. According to the file that the president of the university who is under arrest has caused to be disclosed, they asked about me to 4 faculty members at the university where I worked for 6 years. One professor said they could not testify because they did not know me enough, while another said that as far as they knew me, they did not know anything about my relationship with organizations such FETO or KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union.”

“He went to a gay bar”, “He is trying to spread homosexuality”…

Deniz shared the testimonies of two people who worked with him only for a year, and who have been lately hired by the president of the university who is under arrest. Deniz narrated the testimony of an assistant professor about him as follows:

“They are saying that I haven’t invited them to a cult or community meeting, that they don’t know me, that we’ve only had tea twice, that they heard that I’ve been to a gay bar. They don’t specify from whom they’ve heard it. They are arguing that the opinion I have formed in them is that I could be a member of KCK, or that I may have formed a relationship with FETO based on self-interest.”

Deniz stated that another associate professor has testified as follows about him: “He says things that are not in line with the official discourse about the Armenian deportation, he propagates against national and sentimental values with his qualification as a theologian, he is trying to spread homosexuality, and he discriminated in favour of two female students as the Erasmus coordinator.” Deniz also added:

“It has not been specified where and when these have been said and what happened. They have not explained how I propagated against national and sentimental values with my qualification as a theologian. I am guessing that with ‘he is trying to spread homosexuality’, they are referring to something in relation to my gender class. In the allegation that I discriminated as the Erasmus coordinator, there is no mention of who these students are, or how I discriminated in favour of them.”

“Investigation with allegations that do not go beyond rumour”

Deniz continued his answers to these allegations as follows:

“It is considered a shame for a sociology sophomore to state these allegations, let alone an associate professor in sociology. Because sociology is neither the parrot of the hegemon, nor is it the missionary of any belief, and it also knows that a sexual orientation cannot be spread. Sociology is farthest from hetero-mascist discourse the most. They are clearly defaming not only me, but also my students who go to intership mobility abroad by passing the necessary exams, and by completing relevant procedures. Unfortunately these two people, whose rumours against me have been accepted as testimonies by the university’s investigation commission, will be lecturing the students at the Department of Sociology at Usak University.

“With these two ridiculous testimonies that do not go beyond rumours and that do not include even a tiny bit of information as to whether or not I am terrorist (!), I had been made a mid-level suspect from a low-level suspect by the FETO investigation commission at the university.”

“The president of the university who would later be arrested with the charge of being a member of FETO had hurriedly sent this file to the file of another investigation about me. I had been aware of the process when I went to YOK to get the files.”

“They are getting involved in the investigation by using their posts”

“Students who would testify in my favour are being intimidated by the Head of the Department of Sociology at Usak University in person, by giving the name of the deputy president of the university. Students who are being threatened with their courses, grades, and futures are trying to be scared to even voice this situation. It is against the natural course of life for the deputy president of the university to not know about this incident. These people are getting involved in ongoing investigation processes by using their posts. What needs to be done is obvious in a normal system. They should be relieved of duty for the safety of the investigation.”

“Some people are terribly deceiving others”

Deniz stated that he will press charges against the people who ‘gossiped’ about him and also said that,

“In a process where I feel like Dreyfus, which is explained by Arendt with the theory of ‘banality of evil’, I thank all my family, students, and friends who have supported me in overcoming the injustices, who have stood by the truth despite being threatened, and who have lent me a hand for truth and justice to get back on its feet.

I believe that some people are terribly deceiving others right now, please no one get angry, I know it from the decision given about me.”

SPoD LGBTI publishes Trans Women’s “Alternative” Work Experiences in Turkey

Trans Women’s “Alternative” Work Experiences in Turkey is a research project was conducted between October 2015-September 2016 by Social Policies Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association, and funded by ILGA Europe. Qualitative methods were adapted for this research and 15 in-depth interviews were made with trans women who have different job experiences.

Source: SPoD LGBTI, “Trans Women’s “Alternative” Work Experiences in Turkey”, http://www.transkadinlarinistihdami.org/en/

In this project, informants’ education background, employment processes, problems at the workplace, transitioning and military service status were focused to explain their ways to exist in the working life, individual strategies, socio-economic factors and relations with LGBTI movement.

Explore the project at http://www.transkadinlarinistihdami.org/en/

INTERVIEWS/ NARRATIVES

#1“My last dismissal case was as my boss stated, ‘I have nothing to say about your practice but I couldn’t resist to the pressure coming from around. You always have complaints. Unfortunately they are about your existence.’” (Ece, 41, Dentist)

BEING FIRED, DISCRIMINATION

#2“My education, I am a high school graduate. Well, in fact my trans identity precluded me from many things that I wanted to do at the condition of Turkey.” (Neriman, 34, Barmaid/Manager)

EDUCATION, PROFESSION

#3“I came here after I finished my studies. Because it was too hard to find a job in Balıkesir. While even the ordinary people or the ordinary women have difficulties to find job, it was even harder for a trans woman who did not start life with a silver spoon in their mouth.” (Peyker, 22, Sex Worker)

DISCRIMINATION, JOB APPLICATION

#4“If you don’t want to do sex work, the family is a huge factor. This is the only thing that I want to add… I mean, for example I realized that I didn’t do sex work just to be accepted by my family and my neighbors. My moralistic attitude, even that I declare myself as a socialist feminist I come from a feudal family. I don’t think some things will be possible until we destroy this feudality and the force inside of us. If it will be possible, there should be the support of the family.” (Peyker, 22, Sex Worker)

ACCEPTANCE, FAMILY, HONOUR, SEX WORK

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