Pride in Turkey

History and news on LGBTI and Trans Prides in Turkey

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee calls on friends to support activists at trial

Thousands of LGBTI+ individuals and rights defenders went out to the streets for the 15th Pride March, which was planned for June 25, 2017 but banned at the last minute. For the last two years, the Istanbul Governor’s Office has cancelled the march, claiming that “it might lead to provocative actions and disrupt the public order.” Twenty-five people were taken into custody that day but all of our friends in detention were released the same evening.

However in August, an indictment was prepared by the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor against these 25 friends. The indictment charges them with violating Law No: 2911 Article 28/1 (“participating in an unauthorized demonstration.”) Following the indictment a lawsuit was filed against the 25 rights defenders.

We would like to announce that we will be following the trial, which is to take place on Nov. 16, 2017 at Istanbul Çağlayan Courthouse 48. Asliye Ceza Mahkemesi (48. Court of First Instance). We call all defenders of LGBTI+ rights to stand with us at this trial. It is an occasion to remind everyone that our Pride Marches where we repeat our demand for equal rights and the right to live cannot be tried in court.

We will be expecting our friends’ support at Çağlayan Courthouse on Nov. 16 at 09:00.

For more detailed information and contact:

Emre Demir: 0543 595 3670

 

KaosGL: Trans Pride took place in Harbiye in spite of ban

The press statement for Trans Pride Walk was read in Pangaltı in Istanbul rather than Taksim Square as originally planned due to a heavy police blockade. Anti-transphobia activists marched to Harbiye.

Source: “Trans Pride Walk took place in Harbiye in spite of the ban!” (Trans Onur Yürüyüşü yasağa inat Harbiye’deydi), kaosGL.org, July 2, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24123

Foto: SPoD LGBTI

Anti-transphobia activists met today (July 2) at Pangaltı, upon the call of the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association within the scope of Trans Pride Walk. The press statement was read in front of the Pangaltı metro station. The statement protested the last minute ban of the governor’s office and commemorated those who were murdered in Sivas Madımak Hotel on July 2, 1993.

Detentions following the march

After the statement, anti-transphobia activists walked to Harbiye following Cumhuriyet Avenue. After the walk, the police took 7 people into custody. The police did not state the reason for the arrests. The names of the detained are: Buse Kılıçkaya of Pink Life LGBTI, LGBTI+ activists Şevval Kılıç, Özgür Durmaz, Emre Aymelek, Beniz Ertürk, Umut Avcı and photographer Ömer Tevfik Erten.

The detained rights activists were taken to Feriköy Police Station and were all released after an hour long detention.

After releasing these 7 people, the police immediately detained them once more in order to “to draw up a record”.

Photo: SPoD LGBTİ

Taksim under police blockade

Last night people were banned from assembling at Taksim square. The surrounding area was under police blockade. Gezi Park was closed, the entrance to many streets on İstiklal Avenue were blocked and police harassed people sitting in the cafes around Mis Street.

The statement was read in Taksim

The press statement for the walk was read on Öğüt Street which hosts Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association.

We ask the governor’s office!

Here is the full text of the press statement:

To the press and public,

Trans Pride Week has been banned by the governor’s office for the last two years, in spite of years of peaceful celebrations and the march not constituting any problems against public order.

The governor’s office states that “the aforementioned march’s organization will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are visiting the area, and in regards to public order.”

We ask the governor’s office;

*In the previous 8 walks which citizen’s security were threatened?

*Which tourists were ever harmed?

We are as sure about this as we are about our tranny-ness; neither the Istanbul Governor’s Office nor the office of the Prime minister can justify such an excuse…

The Governor’s office of Istanbul has gracefully added the security of the trans and anti-transphobia activists to its announcement. The Governor’s office might have forgotten; so we shall remind it!

Esteemed Governor;

You have been banning Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Walk for the last 3 years and Trans Pride Walk for 2 years. During these 3 years, nearly 100 anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia activists were injured, tens of them were detained and hundreds of citizens were subjected to police violence. Many citizens who have come to Taksim to exercise their most basic rights were put on trial in a lawless manner.

And again, highly esteemed Governor, our exercise of the constitutional rights were inhibited by the civilian fascists’ calls for jihad, murder and massacre, under the watch of the law enforcers working under you…

Is security maintained by tear-gassing the citizens?

We ask:

Is security maintained by tear-gassing, assaulting and detaining the citizens exercising their constitutional right? Is what you call security maintained by condoning the attacks of civil fascists, committing a crime according to the constitution?

We know that the governor will not answer these questions. The governor and all those who agree on the ban should know that we will never give up daring to use our constitutional right!

Transphobia and xenophobia

Today, the Middle East is struggling with wars, internal conflicts and repressive policies of the political powers. Across the border, war in Syria and Iraq shows its cruel face to trans rights. Many organizations such as ‘Army of Conquest’ and ‘Free Syria Army’, supported by the government on the grounds that they are dissidents, have perpetrated crimes against LGBTI+s systematically and massacred many of our friends in the most primitive ways possible.

Amidst all these atrocities, LGBTI+s were forced to migrate to Turkey in the hope of a new life but were once more systematically condemned to oblivion. Migrant trans individuals trying to survive against all the hardships they experience in public space are condemned to a civilian death within a system deprived of support mechanisms.

The deplorable state of the camps, the steep rents, unemployment and insecurity have become ordinary for the migrants, the hardships are double for trans individuals.

Transphobia within the society, when combined with xenophobia, leads to violence and threats become a fact of life for the migrant trans individuals residing in Turkey. Every breath we take and every moment we live have become a struggle for survival.”

We, as the trans individuals of this country, speaking different languages, hailing from diverse regions and carrying all colours of the world in their hearts, declare that we will not allow any of our trans friends to stand alone against death threats, state or civilian violence and any kind of discrimination. Despite the state rationality that prevents us from coming together and all discriminatory ideas; we the trans individuals will continue to stand together regardless of language, religion, race or colour!

We have a couple of things to say to the Governor who banned our walk for the trans individuals migrating to Turkey from Syria and all other countries!

Esteemed governor, perhaps you don’t know, let us remind you!

According to Article 34 of the Constitution ‘ Everyone has the right to organize unarmed and non-violently assemble and protest marches without need for permission.’

And according to Article 3 of the Law No. 2911, everyone has the right to protest and to march without having to be given permission.

Esteemed Governor, as citizens fighting for the protection of constitutional rights, we invite you to act according to the constitution and not to commit any crimes!

Do not forget that those who came before you and banned the walk are either in prison or dismissed from their posts. And yet we are still here! We will continue to protect our lives and our living spaces! Even if you blockade each street against our walk, we will strengthen our struggle for survival in every home, in every street and in every city.

Don’t remain silent, trans individuals exist! The borders only exist in our minds, migrant trans individuals are among us!

We will continue to defend our living spaces, get used to it, we are not leaving!

Istanbul governor’s office press statement banning Trans Pride

Source: T.C. Istanbul Valiliği, “Basın Duyurusu,” 1 July 2017, http://istanbul.gov.tr/tr/guncel/haberler/basin-duyurusu–01-07-2017

It has been understood that a call for a march called the “8th Trans Pride March” is being made by some media organizations, internet sites and marginal groups on social media for 17:00 Sunday, 2 July 2017 in Taksim Square.

Taksim Square and its vicinity where the march is being called for is not listed among meeting and demonstration areas as declared by our governorship. Furthermore, an application that’s methodologically appropriate based on the articles of Law No: 2911 has not been submitted to our governorship. Additionally, it’s also seen that there are very serious reactions against this call by different segments of society on social media platforms.

According to the conclusion of our governorship’s evaluation, the aforementioned march’s organization will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are visiting the area, and in regards to public order.

It is important that our valuable Istanbul residents do not heed to such calls and help our security forces by observing their calls and warnings.

We announce to the public with respect.

 

 

Bianet: Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?

HDP’s İstanbul MP Garo Paylan inquired on the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the reasons for detentions during the walk, in the parliamentary question he presented to PM Yıldırım.

Source: “Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?” (“Hükümetin Onur Yürüyüşüne Tavrı Neden 2015’ten Sonra Değişti?”), bianet.org, June 28, 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/187827-hukumetin-onur-yuruyusune-tavri-neden-2015-ten-sonra-degisti

HDP’s Istanbul MP Garo Paylan presented a parliamentary question to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım regarding the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the violent police intervention.

Paylan reminded [parliament] that Pride Week Committee’s notification and demand for an appointment from the governorate 20 days prior to the walk were not responded to and that the Governorate of Istanbul announced the ban one day before the walk. He stated that members of Alperen Hearths who threatened those participating the walk were released after an ID check, whereas those who came to walk were detained.

Paylan asked the questions below to PM Yıldırım:

  • What is the real reason for the governorate’s ban against LGBTI+ Pride Walk which has been continuing peacefully for years in Turkey, taking place without any judicial cases or “security threats”?

  • Why has the government changed its attitude towards the Pride Walk since 2015, as there were no bans prior to that date?

  • What is the reason for the violent intervention of law enforcement against the citizens coming to the LGBTI+ Pride Walk?

  • On what grounds were the participants of the LGBTI+ Pride Walk were detained while the members of Alperen Hearths who attacked them were released after an ID check?

  • What is the reason for the detention of the lawyers who intervened to help the citizens in custody?

  • Is there an investigation against the hate speech of law enforcement against the LGBTI+ individuals?

  • Do you think that the ban against the walk might result in an increase in hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTI+ individuals?

KaosGL: How to “pass” police tests in Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March was banned by the governor’s office for the third year in a row after more than a decade of peaceful marches. With the ban, police set up checkpoints across Istanbul’s main thoroughfare, İstiklal Avenue, and central Taksim streets. Police prevented people from gathering en masse for Pride using these checkpoints, as well as riot-control methods like tear gas and plastic bullets. Still, a few hundred people could gather in Cihangir and groups read press statements via Facebook live.

Below are stories from Pride-goers as they attempted to “pass” as non-participants through police checkpoints.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Onur Yürüyüşü’nde polisten alıktırma (!) testi,” kaosGL.org, 27 June 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24097

Tote bag, badge, colorful shirt, earring, scarf, sometimes tshirt, sometimes shorts, and sometimes only the way you look is enough! People who have passed the police’s “LGBTI+ test”, those who failed it, and those who’ll stay for summer classes tell their stories to KaosGL.

Foto: Şener Yılmaz Aslan / MOKU

Our country launches a new practice and people who wanted to attend the LGBTI+ Pride March had to compete to “pass.”

Police blockaded the whole Taksim area the day of the march and allowed people to enter Istiklal Avenue based on their “types” throughout the day, leading to farcical dialogues. Police forced a person wearing a rainbow pattern to strip, said “normal people can pass,” among so many others.

We asked people what they went through that day, the police’s reasons if they weren’t allowed in and what they experienced if they managed to enter the area, knowing it’s a problem if you’re naked and another problem if you’re dressed.

“I got in by hiding my shirt with my backpack”

Cüneyt is one of the lucky few who managed to pass through the police checkpoint. How he did that is like a summary of the day:

“Police saw the rainbow on my t-shirt and said on the police radio ‘it’s clear you’re supporting them [LGBTI+] through your t-shirt’. So I wore my backpack on the front and passed.

Another tactic to pass the police checkpoint is to stand together with both sexes. Most probably as a result of the police’s not knowing about bisexuality, varied sexuality and gender possibilities, and even more so about the fact that people attending this march can be heterosexual, Gülay was able to pass the checkpoint easily:

“I passed hand in hand with Barbaros. They did not say anything like ‘Maybe they are bisexual, maybe they are here for the march.’ So we entered freely.”

“We tried to look like a straight couple”

Elif applied the same method:

“As I’d entered [Taksim] in the morning, I was already in when the police cordoned the area off and started to choose people as they like. But in order to be able to report, I spent the whole day trying to look like a straight couple with a lubunya friend of mine, ignoring our friends we passed by. This way I was able to shoot certain cases of police violence and detention. And I was able to take a lubunya friend of mine to Istiklal, who was otherwise rejected by the police, telling him “come my love”.

Ask them about the colorful shirts

“We were three people and we were stopped by the police right at the entrance to Istiklal. Bedreddin was stopped because he was wearing a colorful shirt. Yes, this was precisely their justification. He said ‘it’s a color sensitive situation, you can’t enter Istiklal’. So after listening to the political defense for a while, I realized he won’t understand. I simply said: ‘What’s that got to do with anything, there is no green in rainbow.’ And the police opened the cordon.”

“Hold these guys!”

Hakan +Arda

“We sat for a while at a venue on the entrance to Istiklal. Then a friend of ours passed by and entered [through the police cordon]. As we tried to go after him, a police officer told another one ‘hold these guys’ and stopped us. I had a gray t-shirt, earrings and an orange bag on. So we went through Cihangir and entered the avenue from Galatasaray.”

“We were able to enter after hiding our stuff”

Deniz Buse

“My girlfriend and I came through nostalgic funicular from Karaköy. We were not allowed in Istiklal because of our earrings, bandanas and pins. ‘We are here on Eid al-Fitr, don’t bother us with this’ they said. We said ‘we won’t give them [the accessories]’. I said : ‘If I give them to you here, I will buy new ones from the shops on Istiklal anyway. They replied, ‘Then our friends will detain you and that’s it’. We said we won’t give them. They said ‘then we won’t take them’. We went back to Karaköy. We put all the stuff they didn’t allow in my girlfriend’s sunglasses case and left it on a construction site. We hid it. That’s how we went to Istiklal. We returned and took back our stuff afterwards.

“Your type is not allowed”

Başak’s dialogue with the police

“-You can’t enter.

-Why, is it just me who is not allowed?

-No, you and your friends.

-I don’t get it, why? What’s the deal?

-Your type is not allowed!”

Shoulder bag is a reason for not being allowed!

Erdem

“Five of us entered Istiklal. Our outfits were more or less similar. We all had a casual t-shirt and shorts. Only one of my friends and I had a shoulder bag and we were the only ones that were stopped. It was either the bag or us being too campy, I don’t know. After that I was rejected several times on my own.”

“They’re normal!”

Şevval:

“They stopped me. I asked, ‘Why can’t I pass, look, everyone else is in’. The police said ‘They’re normal’. I snapped like a princess. Eventually they said ‘please come in’.”

“The street is closed to you today”

Fırat!

“They didn’t let me in either. They stopped me right when I was entering the avenue and said ‘The street is closed to you today’. I asked ‘Who is we’ and they replied ‘LGBTI’. When I told them that I don’t understand, they said ‘Don’t understand, just move along’.

“My ID doesn’t say that I’m a faggot”

Ekin: “ We had pins that read ‘peace’. They said ‘Take them off, or you won’t get in’. When we said ‘It just says peace, we won’t take them off’, he asked for my ID. When told them that my ID doesn’t say that I’m a faggot, they stared at us and made way. We walked chanting slogans. We were caught near Demirören. But then we ran away when they were about to detain us. 10 minutes later we were able to re-enter.”

All of this is just a small portion of what happened on the day of the march. There are even more tragic stories on the part of the iceberg that remains below the surface.

Press Statement From the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee:

Our LGBTI+ Pride March that we miss celebrating, that we were going to celebrate for the 15th time today, has been banned by the Istanbul Governor’s office once again.

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As the 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we notified the Governor’s office about the time and place of our march, and requested a meeting 20 days ago, however, we have not received a response to our inquiry. The Governor’s office made a statement a day before our march, preventing our right to object, and announced that they banned our march, taking away our most democratic right.

It has been long known by all that Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week is celebrated in Turkey for the last 25 years during the last week of June with a Pride March taking place on the last Sunday of June [since 2003]. Making a press statements is a right, protesting is a right, organizing, objecting and resisting are rights; they cannot be subjected to permission.

The reasons listed on the Governor’s ban statement are the very reasons why we march. Yes, the call we made, “evidently, received very serious reactions from different segments of society,” however, the true reason for the reactions towards a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate. The lynch and threats posed by the aforementioned factions of society are not “serious reactions,” they are public-offense. The different sectors of society have reacted, yet society itself has been waiting for long to attend this march. Istanbul Governor’s office has shown that they stand by perpetrators and not society.

The Governor’s office has banned our march with the excuse to “protect the safety of the citizens, the participants in particular, along with tourists visiting the area.” Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide, preventing us from organizing and being visible, and encouraging the ones who are threatening us. Our security will be provided by showing how strong, how crowded, how brave we are. Our security will be provided by protecting the rights of all humans, without discrimination, and protecting social peace. Our security will be provided by recognizing us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom. Our security will be provided in a country where we can have LGBTI+ Pride March.

We are not afraid, we are here, we are not going to change. You are afraid, you are going to change, you are going to get used to it. We painted this street in rainbow for 12 years, said the freedoms word, showed the beauty of living and marching together to the whole world. We are here again, this time to show we will fight darkness for our pride.

We are the ones who declared the revolution of love and gender identity. We are the ones who are excluded, ignored, and yet resilient. We are not alone, we are not wrong, and not giving up by any means. Governors, governments, states change, we stay. These threats, bans, pressures will not stops us! We miss our march, we are not giving up on our march. We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the İstanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week, and we are proud. Be furious, you!

–25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
LGBTI+ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Plus. Last year, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week added the “+” to the end. Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee explains adding the “+” after the initial for Intersex in the past years due to the fact that “we say all the combinations in the rainbow exist in our movement and we aim to socialize people with the idea of not attributing a fixed identity to anyone by judging from the outside.”

 

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee statement on ban: We are marching, get used to it, we are here and we aren’t going anywhere!

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week has been organized since 1993, ending with a Pride March on Istiklal Avenue since 2002 [sic, 2003]. It has been announced via the Istanbul Governor’s Office’s website that the would-be 15th annual Pride March will not be allowed. To be able to hold demonstrations and marches is one of the most basic human rights concerning the freedom of expression and has been put under protection by both the constitution and international treaties. This ban is in violation not only of the legal precedents of the European Court of Human Rights, but also of international treaties, legislations in the domestic law and the constitution.

In the statement made by the governor’s office, it has been declared that according to the the Law No: 2911, the application for the event has not been done properly. As the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee we have made a written application on June 5, 2017 and thus requested a meeting with the Istanbul Governor’s Office. Furthermore, with the application, the notification concerning the exact dates of the Pride Week and March and the planned location of the march to take place has been submitted.

The statement made by the governorship clearly neglects the fact that LGBTI+’s are a part of this society with their comment: “… it’s also seen that there are very serious reactions against this call by different segments of society…” Furthermore the statement also legitimizes groups or individuals who make threats and commit hate crimes by suggesting that there are “sensitivities.”

The comments that say “the safety of tourists and public order” are mere attempts to alter the perception of our peaceful march with the participation of thousands of people from different countries. We are hoping that the governorship would renounce the statement and fulfill all the responsibilities of the state including safety and security measures, and without attacking, would ensure the space needed for us to actualize our annual 15th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March on June 25 to vocalize our claims in unity, prudence and attention to human rights in a peace-loving and safety.

We would like to underline once more that we are not in a particular place in a particular city but we are everywhere and we do not want our voice to be heard just for one day but we want to speak everyday. Thus we are saying once more: “Get Used to It: We are Here and We are NOT leaving!”

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee