Rights Violations in 2015

Rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in 2015 in Turkey

Genetically Modified Tomato Awards Presented: 140Journos, Istanbul University…

12th Genetically Modified Tomato Awards were  distributed at the ceremony on Thursday. Boysan Yakar, Zeliş Deniz and Mert Serçe, the activists who lost their lives last year, were also commemorated in the ceremony.

Source: “Hormonlu Domatesler Sahiplerini Buldu: 140Journos, İstanbul Üniversitesi…”, BİA Haber Merkezi, June 24, 2016, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/176181-hormonlu-domatesler-sahiplerini-buldu-140journos-istanbul-universitesi

12th Genetically Modified Tomato Awards found their new winners on Thursday in a ceremony at Şişli Urban Cultural Center.

There were stage performances at the ceremony and the entire audience danced to commemorate the three activists who lost their lives last year, Boysan Yakar, Zeliş Deniz and Mert Serçe.

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Yeni Akit daily received the majority of the votes in the media category with its headline “The number of deaths increased to 50 at the bar visited by the perverted homosexuals” following the Orlando attack, but since the newspaper has continuously perpetrated hate speech with its news and won the award repeatedly, it was given the “Lifetime Genetically Modified Tomato” award.

In the “media” category the award was merited by 140 Journos, which used a transphobic language while covering last year’s Trans Beauty Pageant, and announced its nomination for Genetically Modified Tomato Awards upon the criticism it received. Other nominees in this category were Sabah daily, Cem Keçe and Hürriyet Aile, Hayrettin Karaman of Yeni Şafak, Milat daily and its reporter Enes Babacan, Vahdet daily, Milli Gazete and Yeni Akit.

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32 Hate Crimes Directed at LGBTI People Appeared in the Press in 2015

According to Kaos GL’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Observation Report, in the year 2015 there were 5 hate crime-murders, 32 hate crimes, 2 cyber-attacks and 3 suicides appeared in the press.

Source: Kaos GL, “2015’te LGBTİ’lere yönelik 32 nefret saldırısı basına yansıdı!” (“32 Hate Crimes Directed at LGBTI People Reflected in the Press in 2015”), kaosgl.org, May 25 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21730

The Kaos GL Association has published its 2015 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Observation Report. The report, which the association has published regularly since 2006 to monitor the human rights violations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, contains striking conclusions about this past year.

5 hate crime-murders, 32 attacks!

General findings are listed in the introduction of the report as follows:

“2015 was a year in which bombs exploded, massacres occurred, systematic attacks were carried out against social groups at the government’s hand, surveillance and detentions were carried out, and the most basic right, the right to life, was not protected. From the perspective of LGBT rights, alongside positive developments it was a year in which generally the routine was not broken;

“Throughout the year of 2015, there were 5 hate crime murders, 32 hate crime attacks (with more than 15 committed by more than one person, 2 at the hands of the police, 12 with a sharp object, 2 with a firearm, and 1 with arson), 2 cyber-attacks, and 3 cases of suicide that were reported to the media;

3 instances of discrimination were reflected in the media. Of these instances, 2 occurred in prison and 1 occurred in the workplace. Out of 9 cases of hate speech, 4 were produced by political figures and 3 appeared in newspapers known to be close to the ruling government.”

Call for killing of LGBTI people

“The societal reflection of hate speech can be [a] hate crime. The attacks by police at the Pride March and ensuing instigation of hate at the hands of politicians turned into a call for murder. A group calling themselves the Young Islamic Defense hung posters on the streets of Ankara calling for the killing of LGBT people.”

Censorship for the internet

“Administrative measures were taken by Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı, or TIB) against 7 LGBT websites. Of these decisions, 1 was lifted by TIB after making its way into the press and another after being appealed to TİB. However, 5 sites still cannot be accessed. In 2 cases students were attacked because of LGBT banners and a rainbow flag at a university. Bafra Penitentiary denied prisoners access to Kaos GL publications on the grounds of its “obscene” content.”

“The police attacked the Pride March with plastic bullets, teargas, and water cannons; a number of people were injured.”

“The Constitutional Court identified the state’s official relationship format by using the expression ‘unnatural relation,’ in clear violation of the Constitution.”

The report only contains cases reflected in the media

While emphasizing that only cases reflected in the media were reported, problems experienced in the reporting process are outlined in the report as follows:

“The violations found in the report are cases reflected in the media only. For this reason this report does not display all of the human rights violations experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey

“We have presented this report as the 2015 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Violation Observation Report. However, our struggle continues in reaching the problems of gay and bisexual women and the discrimination and human rights violations suffered by transgender men.”

The report contains separate sections on ‘hate crimes and violations of the right to life,’ ‘discrimination and hate speech,’ ‘freedom of expression,’ and ‘lawsuits taking place and ending in 2015.’ Violations reflected in the media over the course of a year are listed.

What should be done?

The conclusion of the report lists the necessary steps for getting ahead of human rights violations as follows:

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals should be granted equal civil rights in the Constitution and “sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status”(CYCKİD) should be protected categories in the Constitution’s discrimination article
  • Adjustments should be made to the Turkey Human Rights and Equality Foundation Law to include protections for CYCKİD; the law should be rewritten to take into account Civil Society recommendations about the impartiality of the foundation
  • LGBTI people should be included in public social policy
  • Effective campaigns should be led against the homophobic and transphobic hate speech of politicians, public authorities, and opinion leaders
  • All relevant public institutions, especially the Directorate General of Migration Management, should develop sensitivity towards and policies related to the various problems of LGBTI refugees
  • The Turkey Human Rights and Equality Foundation and the Ombudsman Institution should handle all violations of human rights, democracy, and law that come under its jurisdiction with an approach based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Clauses on sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to articles regulating discrimination law in the judicial system
  • Regulation regarding hate crimes should be expanded to cover basic rights such as the right to life, bodily integrity, education, and shelter alongside hate speech, and clauses on CYCKİD should be included in hate crime regulation. The necessary punitive measures should be taken for hate crimes directed at LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) individuals; modifications in the law should be made to prevent reduced sentences for “grievous provocation” following hate crimes
  • Ambiguous phrases such as “general morality,” “public decency,” “obscenity,” “immodesty,” and “infamous crimes” used in the Turkish Republic Constitution, the Turkish Penal Code, Civil Code, Law of Misdemeanor and various other foundations and institutions should be taken out of regulation or readjusted in a way that cannot be interpreted as against LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) people.
  • Turkey should immediately take all necessary legal and political steps to fully comply with the 2010 Combating Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Recommendations from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which Turkey was a founding member
  • In the investigation and prosecution stages following rights violations such as hate crimes, discrimination, and police violence suffered by LGBTI people, precautions should be taken to eliminate the discriminatory and/or prejudiced attitudes of law enforcement officers and forensic units, which heighten the victims’ suffering
  • The classification of homosexuality and transsexualism in the Turkish Armed Forces Health Code as “sexual identity and behavior disorders” and practices suffered by homosexual, bisexual, or transgender individuals that damage their honor and dignity should be eliminated
  • The Turkish Armed Forces Discipline Code, which punishes homosexuality by stigmatizing it as an “unnatural relation” and leaves the homosexual officers in question to fall victim to discrimination in the workplace and lose their jobs, should change and homosexuality should no longer be considered a crime.
  • The government should regulate CYCKİD discrimination in work life. Regulations directed at LGBT workers should be made in job announcements, hiring, continued work relationships, and termination. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status should become protected categories under the discrimination article in the Labor Law
  • Societal and institutional educational programs to eliminate the rights violations experienced by LGBTI people in education, employment, and health in the public sector and private institutions, as well as in access to services, should be applied and followed as a positive obligation of the state.
  • On every subject relevant to human rights and especially when making changes related to the prevention of discrimination, opinions from the United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union, and related units should be taken into account. Human rights organization, organizations that work in the field of women’s human rights, and LGBTI organizations should work in collaboration to accomplish all of these endeavors.
  • Statistical studies to aid in bringing discrimination to light should be completed.
  • To ensure fair trials, human rights education based on homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination should be designed for law enforcement officers and members of the judicial branch. This education should be carried out in collaboration with civil society organizations.
  • Prison schemes should be designed with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity; an end should be put to isolation.
  • Pursuant to all of these endeavors, dialogue and collaboration should be established between LGBTI organizations and public establishments and Parliament.

Access report here [Turkish]

Court Sentences Trans Woman who was Denied Access to Health Care

The trans woman, who was refused to be examined by a gynaecologist who told her “You are a man, I do not condone your situation”, has been sentenced to one year and two months of prison.

Source: “Doktor Muayene Etmedi, Üstüne Mahkeme Ceza Verdi”, (“Doctor Who Didn’t Examine Trans Woman, Court Punished Trans Woman”), bianet, 8 December 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/saglik/169985-mahkeme-saglik-hakki-engellenen-trans-kadina-ceza-verdi

Trans woman H.Ç. has been sentenced to one year and two months in prison after gynaecologist F.H. refused to treat her because of her transsexuality and then filed a lawsuit claiming insult against her. The Ninth Istanbul Criminal Court of First Instance decided to delay the punishment.

H.Ç.’s application to the prosecutor’s office regarding the gynaecologist who refused to examine her was rejected because the governorate did not allow an investigation.

She said “you are a man” and did not examine trans woman

Last year, H.Ç. received her gender reassignment surgery in a private hospital and went to the General Surgery Department of Reşat Belger Göz Eğitim Araştırma Hastanesi (Eyesight Training and Research Hospital) in Beyoğlu, Istanbul on 31 March 2014 to get a prescription.

According to H.Ç., General Surgery directed her to the Maternity Ward Service. However, F.H. who worked in that service said, “It is not my specialty, I will not do the examination. You are a man, I do not condone your situation” and refused to examine H.Ç. H.Ç. told her that she’ll file a complaint against her and the doctor F.H. said, “Go complain wherever you want.”

H.Ç. went to the chief physician with her lawyer and filed a complaint. Dr. F.H. made a criminal complaint against H.Ç. for the claim of insult.

On 15 September, H.Ç. filed a complaint against the doctor for “discrimination, insult, preventing access to the right to medical treatment and negligence in medicine.” The governorate did not allow the investigation after the complaint.

Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) lawyer Rozerin Seda Kip objected to the governorate’s decision but her objection was denied by a majority of votes at the Istanbul Regional Administration Court.  

More on this case:

https://lgbtinewsturkey.com/2014/10/10/dr-fatma-hut/

https://lgbtinewsturkey.com/2014/10/10/dr-fatma-hut-update/

Another Transphobic Murder in Istanbul

 

On the evening of 2 December at approximately 20:30 in the Avcılar district of Istanbul, a trans woman was stabbed in the heart and killed on the street she worked.

Source: “İstanbul’da Yine Transfobik Cinayet!”, (“Another Transphobic Murder in Istanbul”), pembehayat.org, 2 December 2015, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=933

The trans woman, Alev, lost her life as a result of being stabbed through the heart by a man who approached her as a customer while she was working on the street.

While Alev died at the crime seen as a result of the transphobic hate crime that occurred around 20:30 today (02.12.2015), her friends rushed to the police station. The Avcılar police department also brought in Alev’s trans woman friends for questioning about the murder, which occurred in the Haramidere neighborhood.

Alev’s friends said that the murder was carried out by a man who approached her like a customer.

While the investigation about the crime is still ongoing, the murder suspect has yet to be caught.  

In the past ten days in Istanbul there have been two back to back transphobic hate crime murders. On the afternoon of November 23rd, a woman named Nilay was stabbed in front of her own home in Maltepe and then strangled with the sash of her robe. Following this, Alev lost her life as a result of a knife attack.

Following the lynching attempts at the Meis apartment complex, which began in 2012, many trans women in Avcılar have become a target for hate crimes.

Previously, a mob gathered in front of the homes of the many trans women who live in the Meis complex hurled threats at the women with torches in hand, and shot bullets into their houses. A lawsuit filed about the Meis complex attacks on the premise that they interfered with the right to housing is still ongoing.

Transphobic discrimination from the police

The Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association, which accompanied a lawyer to the police station after the murder, criticized the police officers’ disinterested, discriminatory and transphobic attitudes through a post on their social media. Istanbul LGBTI shared that while waiting with the lawyer, they heard the police officers say “There are so many fags, friend:”

“Alev gets stabbed in the neck with a knife in the area she works. She runs to the truck lot located in the area behind it and asks for help. But because her carotid artery was severed, she collapses to the ground before an ambulance can even be called.

“The murderer is among us right now. He could be sitting next to us on public transportation. Or he could be walking right behind us when we walk home.

“The police are saying, ‘There are so many fags.’ Now, let’s sit and think about this. Is the murderer only the person who pulled the knife on Alev? Of course not! The murderer is also the police and the state who say, ‘There are so many fags’ and take no notice of our right to life, instead of finding the perpetrator!

“Trans murders are political!”

The attack will be protested in Ankara

Following the transphobic murders that have occurred recently, the Ankara LGBTI organizations Pink Life, High School LGBTI, and Kaos GL have sprung into action. On 3 December at 18:30 there will be a press release to protest these hate crimes in front of the Yüksel Human Rights Monument.

 

Gay inmate: “It wears me down to be penalized on top of my sentence”

“Some of us only wish for a cup of tea.”

Source: “Hücre cezası uygulanan eşcinsel: Ceza içinde ceza yatmak beni çok yıpratıyor” (“Gay inmate: It wears me down to be penalized on top of my sentence”), T24, 1 December 2015, http://t24.com.tr/haber/hucre-cezasi-uygulanan-escinsel-ceza-icinde-ceza-yatmak-beni-cok-yipratiyor,318524

14 LGBTI inmates in Alanya L-Type Closed Prison are serving time in solitary cells – a practice that only applies to convicts sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment – and are denied a special ward despite their numbers. Lawyers affiliated with the Alanya Board of Women’s Rights say, “The convicts are held in confinement 23 hours a day and are let out for fresh air for only an hour.” The convicts reported on their situation in letters that they sent to non-governmental organizations:

“I feel suffocated. It wears me down to be in a situation I did not deserve and to be penalized on top of my sentence. … I am only allowed to get fresh air in the yard for an hour a day as if I am sentenced to solitary confinement. If I were, it would not feel this horrible.”

“There are 15-20 of us here with reports that identify us as gays. But they don’t open a ward for us. We are serving our time like our friends who are sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment. The well-off ones among us have things like a TV, a fridge, or an electric teapot. Others don’t have anything and only wish for a cup of tea. If there was a ward and we all lived there, we would at least have an environment to share things among us.”

“They only let us out for an hour a day and they let us out one by one. I can’t sit down and have a conversation with any one of my gay friends. You could guess that we are already ostracized by our families because we’re gay. Our mental state is already off. We need to support each other at times like these, but we’re further banished by the government instead.”

Turkey had been convicted

Turkey was convicted by the European Court of Human Rights as a result of a lawsuit known as “X v. Turkey” about a gay individual who was confined to a solitary cell for 8 months. It is also against Turkish law to confine an inmate to a solitary cell without a sentence to that effect.

“The capacity is much higher [than stated]”

During the lawyers’ visit, prison director Ali Şeref Gül reportedly said, “The prison has a capacity of 480 inmates, though it currently holds more than 1600 convicts and detainees. So it is difficult to assign a special ward for people suffering from homosexuality.”

The capacity of the prison is stated as 1820 inmates on the website of the Ministry of Justice. The prison authorities that we were able to reach stated that the capacity is higher than 1820 inmates.

Several NGOs are collecting signatures for a petition to lift the solitary confinement penalty on gay inmates and vowed to follow up with the petition. The following is a list of the NGOs behind the petition:

 

Afyon LGBTİ Kuruluşu

Akdeniz Pembe Caretta LGBTQ

Bilgi Gökkuşağı

Boğaziçi Üniversitesi LGBTİ Çalışmaları Kulübü (BÜLGBTİ)

Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Sosyal Hizmet Kulübü (BUSOS)

Bursa Özgür Renkler LGBTİ

Ceza İnfaz Sisteminde Sivil Toplum Derneği (CİSST)

Cinsel Şiddetle Mücadele Derneği

Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği İstanbul Şubesi

Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi Eşit Şerit Topluğu

Edirne LGBTİ Çalışma Grubu

Erktolia

Erzincan Katre Kadın Oluşumu

Flu Baykuş

Görülmüştür

Hebun LGBT Diyarbakır

Hevi LGBTİ

İnsan Hakları Derneği Genel Merkez

İnsan Hakları Derneği İstanbul Şubesi

İnsan Hakları Derneği Sakarya Şubesi

İstanbul LGBTİ Dayanışma Derneği

İzmir LGBTİ İnisiyatifi

Kaos GL

KESK Kadın Meclisi

Keskesor LGBTİ Diyarbakır Oluşumu

Kırmızı Şemsiye Cinsel Sağlık ve İnsan Hakları Derneği

Lambda İstanbul Derneği

LGBTİ Aileleri ve Yakınları Derneği (LİSTAG)

Liseli LGBTİ

Mahsus Mahal

Malatya Gökkuşağı LGBTİ İnisiyatifi

Mersin 7 Renk LGBTİ Derneği

Moira Kadın Dayanışma Derneği

MorEL LGBTİ

Muş Kadın Derneği (Mukadder)

Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Derneği

Pembe Hayat LGBTT Dayanışma Derneği

Pozitif Yaşam Derneği

Sınır Tanımayan Kadınlar / Göçmen Kadınlarla Dayanışma Grubu

Siyah Pembe Üçgen İzmir

Sosyal Politikalar Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği (SPoD)

T-Klüp

Toplumsal Dayanışma İçin Psikologlar Derneği

Toplumsal Haklar ve Araştırmalar Derneği

Trabzon Mor Balık LGBT

Yeni Demokrat Kadın

Yoğurtçu Kadın Forumu

Queer Documentaries

Inquiry into Policemen who Attacked the Pride Parade was not Permitted!

 

The Governorship of Istanbul has not permitted a legal inquiry to be initiated against the police who attacked the Pride Parade, injuring many people and detaining journalists.

Source: “Onur Yürüyüşü’ne Saldıran Polislere Soruşturma İzni Çıkmadı!” (“Inquiry into Policemen who Attacked the Pride Parade was not Permitted!”) KaosGL.org, 25 November 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20603

Following the police attack of LGBTI organizations’ 2015 Pride Parade, the official complaint for trial of the officials of the General Directorate of Riot Police was finalized. The Governorship of Istanbul has not permitted inquiry into the policemen who attacked the parade.

The Governorship, stating that the Pride Parade had been “banned”, defended that the police attack that occurred throughout the day was “within the legal limits”. It further argued that there was not “any information, document, or video recording in relation to misconduct of the policemen”, despite the evidence submitted by LGBTI organizations and images shown in the media.

LGBTI organizations had filed an official complaint

LGBTI organizations had filed an official complaint, with regard to the police attack of the Pride Parade, concerning the Minister of Interior Affairs Sebahattin Ozturk, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin, and Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok, who executed the unlawful order.

Kaos GL, Lambdaistanbul, SPoD LGBTI, and Red Umbrella requested that the responsible parties be tried based on the following crimes: wounding with intent, torture, persecution, mistreatment, coercion, transgression of right to use force, misconduct, issuance of unlawful order and execution thereof, prevention of exercise of freedom of speech, prevention of exercise of freedom of association and right to hold meetings and demonstration marches, and restriction of liberty.

What happened at the Pride Parade?

The police attacked the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade with tear gas, water cannon, and plastic bullets. The protesters were detained, the journalists were assaulted. Yıldız Tar, KaosGL.org’s Editor, and Cicek Tahaoglu, Bianet’s Women and LGBTI News Editor, were among the detained and battered journalists.

Members of the Parliament from HDP and CHP stood hand in hand in opposition to the police. The rainbow flag flew in all of Beyoglu’s streets despite the police attack that went on throughout the day. The Governorship of Istanbul stated that the police “interfered” with the Pride Parade due to the possibility of “provocation”, even though there was no trouble of any kind until the police attack.

Following the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade, as the Governorship claimed there were “no injured people”, it was discovered that many were injured after being subject to police brutality. Among the injured was Sinan Onder Duman. Duman was injured in his right eye due to the targeted shot of a plastic bullet by the police.

Even though the Governorship alleged that no one suffered any injury, LGBTI activists were attacked by unidentified assailants in civilian dress, in Tophane. One person’s nose and another’s hipbone were broken.

Trans Woman Stabbed And Strangled To Death

Nilay, a trans woman in Maltepe, Istanbul has been found dead at her home. She was first stabbed and then strangled with the bathrobe belt. Police told Istanbul LGBTI activist who requested information, that “Already dead, why do you care?”

Source: Pembe Hayat, “Trans Kadın Önce Bıçaklandı Sonra Boğularak Öldürüldü!”, pembehayat.org, 24 November 2015, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=923

Nilay, a 33 years old trans woman in Maltepe, Istanbul lost her life after a transphobic hate crime. Nilay who was attacked yesterday (23 November) around noon at her house suffered several stabbings on her body. The murderer strangled her with the bathrobe belt after stabbing her.

Yanki Bayramoglu, friend of deceased Nilay stressed the fact that this transphobic hate crime took place right after 20 November Transgender Day of Remembrance:

First he stabbed her, then strangled!

“The attack took place yesterday after 3pm. Our mutual friend Emel talked to Nilay on the phone around 3 pm. Nilay said that her client was about to arrive and then she hung up. Later, we tried to call her again but couldn’t reach her. Emel got suspicious at night and went to her home. She kept knocking on the door but there was no answer. They called for a locksmith and found Nilay’s dead body.”

“I saw the house myself, too. Everything was scattered. There was blood. The girl’s body was stabbed everywhere. In the end when she was in death agony, he strangled her with the belt of a bathrobe, and left her there with the knife he used.”

The family is on the road to pick up the funeral

After Nilay’s friends found her body, they called the police. CSI team and the state prosecutor decided to move Nilay’s body to Kartal Training and Research Hospital’s morgue.

Bayramoglu, stated that they informed the family of Nilay and they are on the road from Diyarbakir to pick up her body.

Police to Istanbul LGBTI activist: “Already dead, why do you care?”

Kivilcim Arat from Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association said that they kept calling police offices all night after they heard about the attack in order to get concrete information. However, they were not informed by the police officers. Arat, “Police officers talked to me in a very disrespectful manner and mockingly. We were trying to get information for legal follow up procedures, but they did not provide us any information. They said “already dead, throat is cut open, why do you care” and such other sentences.”

According to the information provided by police to Yanki Bayramoglu, the suspect has not been identified yet. Istanbul LGBTI lawyers will follow up the legal process after murdering.

Transphobic Hate Attack Three Days Ago!

On 20 November Transgender Day of Remembrance, a trans woman was attacked by a group of men in Istanbul. Around 3 am in the night, Adriana was wounded by a pry bar.