Rights Violations in 2017

Kaos GL: Transphobic hate murder in Ayvalık

A trans woman, living in Ayvalık Sarımsaklı, was murdered on the balcony of her house in December. The news coverage of hate crimes which normalize the violence renders social prejudice invisible and the crime insignificant.

Source: Kaos GL, “Ayvalık’ta Transfobik Nefret Cinayeti”, kaosgl.org, December 15, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25090

A trans woman, living in Ayvalık Sarımsaklı, was murdered on the balcony of her house.

According to the news media coverage, the trans woman Kader was murdered with a single bullet to her head on her own balcony during the night of December 13. The murder suspects N.E.Ç and S.K. were taken into custody.

Newspapers normalize the hate crime

Hürriyet, Milliyet, Balıkesir Ekspres and Körfez’de Olay daily used Kader’s male ID name in their coverage of the hate murder against the trans woman. Milliyet, Körfez’de Olay daily and Balıkesir Ekspres used the headline “Transvestite Murder in Ayvalık”, Hürriyet wrote “Fortune teller Kader was killed on [her] balcony”.

These newspapers used expressions which strengthen the existing transphobic prejudice and introduced the victim as “[who] uses the nickname Fortune teller Kader”. All of the four dailies normalized the hate murder and violated the rights of the murdered person.

Hate murders do not only target the victim

In the crimes committed with hate the victims are chosen based on not by who they are in contrast to other crimes, but by what they represent. Therefore, the hate crimes give the message to the victim and the community the victim belongs to that they are not welcome and are not safe. The media coverage of the hate crimes which normalize the act render the social prejudice invisible and the act insignificant.

Kaos GL Association calls media employees’ attention to how the hate crimes which target LGBTI individuals are covered in its 2016 report on hate speech. You can access the report via this link.

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.”

Bianet: Lecturer exiled from Department of Architecture to Department of Physical Education after filing a criminal complaint against the Rectorate

Mardin Artuklu University Faculty of Architecture Research Assistant Emre Özyetiş says “I believe it is because of my gender identity that I went through all of this.”

Source: Beyza Kural, “Lecturer exiled from Department of Architecture to Department of Physical Education after filing a criminal complaint against the Rectorate” (“Rektör Hakkında Suç Duyurusu Yaptı, Mimarlıktan Beden Eğitimine Sürüldü”), bianet, December 29, 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/insan-haklari/192877-rektor-hakkinda-suc-duyurusu-yapti-mimarliktan-beden-egitimine-suruldu

Emre Özyetiş, a research assistant at the Faculty of Architecture at Mardin Artuklu University filed a criminal complaint against the rector, claiming that the rector had insulted him based on his gender identity and had threatened him. His complaint was covered on the news, upon which Özyetiş was assigned to work at the Directorate of College of Physical Education and Sports.

Indicating that he believes he faced such treatment due to his gender identity, Özyetiş told bianet “What I went through is a textbook example of the legal definition of mobbing”.

Özyetiş graduated from the METU Architecture and Philosophy departments, completed his Master’s on architecture in Austria, and currently continues his Ph.D. in Architecture at METU. Özyetiş objected to the decision of the rectorate and demanded to be reinstated to his post at the Faculty of Architecture.

We called the rectorate regarding the matter; however our phone calls were not answered.

“If this gets on the news, I will sue you”

Özyetiş has been working at the Faculty of Architecture as a research assistant since 2014. He says that on December 26, 2017, he was invited by the rector of the university, Ahmet Ağırakça, to his office for a meeting.

“Without any explanation, Ağırakça asked me ‘Do you want to be a girl?’ When he saw that I was baffled, he said, ‘Don’t you realize you are in Mardin?’ When I said that I was trying to understand what is going on, he raised his voice and said ‘Get out!’ Then I told him that he uses hate speech which is against the law, he put his hand on his waist as if he was reaching for his gun, and threatened me to get out of the room. Right after this confrontation, he called my colleagues and said things like, ‘How can you teach a course with someone like Emre?’ and continued to insult me over my sexual orientation.”

On December 27, Özyetiş filed a criminal complaint with the Mardin Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor, accusing the rector of threat, insult and harassment through hate speech.

Journalist Zeynep Yüncüler covered the incident in Journo on December 28. She contacted Rector Ağırakça, who according to the article is to have said, “I don’t want any male professors at my school acting like a girl. This is immoral and shameful. If this gets in the news, I’ll sue you as well”.

“Assignment” to physical education from architecture

Today the secretariat of the Faculty of Architecture sent Özyetiş a notification signed by the rectorate, stating that “it is seen fit that [Özyetiş] is assigned to the Directorate of the College of Physical Education and Sports for a year”.

The premises for the decision was indicated as Article 13-b of the Law on Higher Education no. 2547, which regulates the duties of the rector and states the duty as: “When the rector sees it necessary, s/he can change the posts of the teaching staff and other personnel working at the institutions and units which constitute the university or reassign said personnel”.

Özveriş, who did his undergraduate, graduate and doctorate studies in the field of architecture, objected to the rectorate’s decision.

“I requested an explanation about why I was assigned to the College of Physical Education and Sports, and demanded to be reinstated to my post at the Department of Architecture. I will apply to the Administrative court, whether I receive a reply or a rejection of my demand or not.”

The times for the finals and make-up exams for which Özyetiş is responsible for at the Department of Architecture are about to come.

The Union of Education and Science Labourers’ (Eğitim ve Bilim Emekçileri Sendikası) statement titled, “Scenes of State of Emergency at Mardin Artuklu University”, indicates that there have been exiles disguised as reassignment.

“I was subjected to this treatment due to my gender identity”

Regarding the reassignment which followed his complaint and the news published on Journo, Özyetiş has said, “I see it as an effort to disrupt my working environment and to make my life harder”.

“What I’m currently going through is a textbook example of the legal definition of mobbing. A reassignment at a department where I’m not qualified for is seen as fit for me. There are no students enrolled here, therefore I don’t know what I’m assigned for, either.

“Exiles in universities have happened countless times before this happened to me. I’m subjected to this [treatment] because of my gender identity–because of the way I exist and because of my ideas on gender that I expressed in lectures. Other colleagues have been subjected to similar rights violations due to other reasons.”

“We were discussing whether architecture has gender or not”

“I’m asked why this has happened to me; I believe it’s entirely because of my gender identity.

“I guess the rectorate implies that this process started after we had the screenings of two films, Innocence and Cosmos, in class. I’m a research assistant; these are not classes I opened. I have colleagues with whom I share the instruction of these classes. Furthermore, these films can not be interpreted in the manner he does, nor are they incompatible with the criteria for class content.”

“We talk about gender in lectures. We talk about the fact that gender is not the assigned sex, but a matter of self-expression or self-assignment, which is much more significant.”

“The rector probably says, ‘Emre says he wants to be a girl in his class’, as I have stated that the assigned sex at birth is not the only determinant of gender and that any person has the right to express themselves as men or women. Or maybe that’s what he assumes. Not only I, but also those in class say that there is no such thing.

“Besides, I can be a trans individual; I can state that I am a woman. There is no legal measure against this; there is nothing to justify the accusation and the treatment I was exposed to.”

Kaos GL: “Good behavior” reduction to threat against LGBTI+ individuals

Far-right ultranationalist Alperen Hearths’ Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican receives a judicial fine of 4,000 Turkish Liras (about 1,050 USD) due to his “good behavior” on trial where he was charged with “inciting the public to hatred and enmity” after he threatened Pride March. The Alperen Hearths are a far-right ultranationalist and Islamist youth group linked to the nationalist Great Union Party (BBP).

Source: “ ‘Good behavior’ reduction to the threat against LGBTI+ individuals” (“LGBTİ+’ları tehdide ‘iyi hal’ indirimi”), kaosgl.org, December 14, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25086

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The third hearing of the trial of Alperen Hearths’ Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican took place on Dec. 14 in Kartal Courthouse, 44. Court of First Instance. Mican was charged with “inciting the public to hatred and enmity, deliberately insulting a section of the public based on differences in social class, religion, sect, gender and region” after his threat against the 2016 LGBTI+ and Trans Pride March.

Mican, on trial with a demand for up to 6 years in prison, was sentenced to 4,000 Turkish Liras (about 1,050 USD) judicial fine due to his “good behavior” on the charge of insulting a section of the public based on differences of gender. Dogan news agency reported that the court decided that the fine be paid in 10 installments.

Ankara ban becomes premise for Mican

Mican defended himself at the last hearing, saying “The state should not allow these to do such things. Our state has protected every sect’s belief but the liberty demanded here is not a normal liberty.” At today’s hearing Mican pointed out the ban issued by the Ankara Governor’s Office against LGBTI+ activities as a premise.

What had happened?

Muslim Anatolia Youth, a group organizing over social media issued a call for an event called ‘ We won’t let undignified perverts walk’ against the 2016 LGBTI Pride March planned for June 26 and June 16 Trans Pride Marches.

Alperen Hearths Foundation Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican threatened the June 26 LGBTI Pride March, using homophobic and transphobic hate speech. Alperen Hearths had gathered on Istiklal Avenue during Pride Walks as a small group and tried to provoke the crowd yet failed to block the walk. Their chair Mican stated:

“We will never allow this type of immoralities which touch upon the nerve ends of the society disguised as Pride Walks, to be normalized or encouraged. Our reaction will be clear and severe. They always do the same things on a holy month. They mock us, ignoring our values and making fun of us. Esteemed state authorities, do not let us be occupied with these. Either do what’s necessary or we will take care of it. We will take every risk, we will directly block the walk. Our state should stop this, considering our national values. Because this is not a normal liberty. This is our warning now. We let you know about what is to come beforehand, we will not be held accountable after this point.”

Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association and Human Rights Association had filed a common criminal complaint regarding the threats and demanded that Mican and other stand trial. Halkevleri had also filed a criminal complaint.

Following the reactions Mican suggested that he did not threaten the walk, saying “I’m not suggesting that we chase people around with bats in Taksim.”

Bianet: We asked SPoD about the bans against the LGBTIs: The bans restrict the growth of the LGBTI+ movement

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Source: “We asked SPoD about the bans against the LGBTIs: The bans are against the growth of LGBTI+ movement” (“LGBTİ Yasaklarını SPoD’a Sorduk: Yasaklar, LGBTİ+ Hareketinin Büyümesine Karşı”), Çiçek Tahaoğlu, bianet.org, December 5, 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/192163-lgbti-yasaklarini-spod-a-sorduk-yasaklar-lgbti-hareketinin-buyumesine-karsi

Serdar Ocaksönmez, Communications Coordinator for Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD), has evaluated the new restrictions imposed on LGBTI activities following the ban in Ankara for bianet.

Ocaksönmez suggests that these bans are not just against film screenings but aim to criminalize LGBTI individuals and the LGBTI+ movement. SPoD are concerned by the increasing constraints.

Ocaksönmez invites all civil rights defenders to show up in solidarity, saying “we feel frightened these groups are targeting us and spreading hate speech”.

“The ban criminalizes our existence”

What is your opinion on the indefinite ban in Ankara?

The ban in Ankara is not only against a film screening. Due to its scope, the ban restricts all means of public engagement and mobility. The notions of “social sensitivity” and “morality” defined in the decision are highly concerning; we cannot allow the existence of LGBTI+ individuals and their identities to be criminalized under the pretenses of “social sensitivity” and “morality”. If we think about the consequences of these actions long term, the existence of LGBTI+ associations presently active in Ankara may be directly affected and harmed by this decision. Considering that Ankara is the capital, I see this as a strategic decision.

 

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“Censorship in other cities is no coincidence”

Can you observe the influence of this ban in other cities?

The ban affects different populations in different cities. An event in Mardin, planned before the ban in Ankara was declared, was cancelled after it was targeted by the hate speech. In Bursa, another event was forcibly cancelled by the police. Lastly, LGBTI+ film screening in İstanbul was banned by the District Governorship of Istanbul. We cannot assume that these are separate or purely coincidental cases.

“We feel threatened”

Did the bans have an affect on SPoD’s work?

Even though they haven’t affected us directly, there is the definite possibility [bans] will spread all around the country–especially in Istanbul. Bans have had a psychological impact on all of us in the LGBTI+ movement. We are concerned there will be further bans on the activities we are organizing or the ones we will organize. Aside from this, we feel threatened by the existence of those groups targeting us with hate speech.

“We will keep following the trial”

Did you receive any applications, questions etc. from the local organizations and activists regarding this ban or other bans in different cities?

We are in close contact with the organizations in Ankara. We are following the lawsuit filed by Kaos GL and Pink Life after the ban, demanding the halt of execution. We are trying to gather as much information as we can regarding other bans and interventions.

“The bans are a reaction against the growth of LGBTI+ movement”

Do you think the ban in Ankara can spread to the other cities?

Frankly, we weren’t expecting such a ban. There have been individual bans which cited  “security” concerns over the last three years such as the ban against LGBTI+ and Trans Pride Walks in İstanbul and the May 17 events in Ankara. But this last ban is indefinite and we therefore feel it  targets us personally. We are facing a very different kind of violence when the existence of groups of people, our ways of life, and the right to peaceful assembly are targeted here. When we look at the last three years in their entirety, this looks like a reaction against the growth of the LGBTI+ movement.

“We invite all rights defenders to show solidarity”

Do you have any plans, strategies or calls regarding the ban attempts?

Right now, we as SPoD are acting in coordination with other LGBTI+ associations and platforms. We are following the lawsuits filed by Kaos GL and Pink Life Associations in Ankra and we are hope to see the ban lifted as soon as possible so that we can continue with our activities.

We request the authorities adhere to Article 10 of the Turkish Constitution as well as with international conventions, including the Istanbul Convention, to which Turkey is a party. We want the authorities to correct this mistake immediately. We believe that we will overcome these bans through advocating solidarity, like we did when Lambdaistanbul was sought to be closed. We invite not only LGBTI+ organizations but all civil rights defenders to be present in a show of solidarity.

 

Activists: Ankara ban on LGBTI+ events spreading to other cities!

The “politics of repression” that began with police attacking the 13th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March in 2015 when some 100,000 people were expected to attend, and hardened with the state of emergency declared after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, has increasingly shrunk our living spaces.

After President Erdogan characterized LGBTI+ existences as contrary to morality on Nov. 9, the Ankara governor’s office banned all LGBTI+ events within the province in an indefinite period via a statement on Nov. 18. Cancellations of events in Izmir, Bursa, Kocaeli and Mardin followed the Ankara ban. Now, LGBTI+ events within the framework of Nov. 25 — the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women — have been banned in Istanbul. These bans have followed a common program with hate speech campaigns led by dark pro-government newspapers.

At this stage, local authorities are banning events like film screenings, exhibitions, forums, panels and meetings by LGBTI+ groups in arbitrary and illegal grounds, thereby taking away LGBTI+s freedom, living space and city rights. The grounds for this attitude that is limiting our freedom has been shown as “social sensitivities and sensibilities,” “protecting public health and morality” and “protecting other people’s rights and freedoms.” But we know that the “sensitivity” in the foreground of these allegations can only be found within repressive and oppressive ones. It’s an incontestable fact that LGBTI+ individuals face discrimination in fundamental rights such as education, health, housing, employment, security and transportation in their daily lives and within the law, both in our country and the world. LGBTI+ organizations in Turkey are respectable civil society groups tied to the country’s law on associations working for more than 25 years to ensure LGBTI+ individuals lead safe, healthy and equal social and economic lives. These mass bans are completely contrary to human rights, democratic values of our century and social development is enough to show that the administration in Turkey is now at a point beyond logic.

We invite the national and international public to raise their voice to put an end this craziness. We want these decisions that are limiting our freedoms and taking away our living spaces to be reversed immediately!

We invite authorities to “allow life to go back to its normal course”!

Please contact reverseankaraban@gmail.com for further info and your questions.

Official Statement: Beyoglu District Governor’s Office bans LGBTI+ events on Nov. 25

Source: T.C. Beyoğlu Kaymakamlığı, “Basın Duyurusu,” Nov. 24, 2017, http://www.beyoglu.gov.tr/basin-duyurusu

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Regarding speculation gathered from social media and open sources that a  meeting and demonstration march with theme “November 25 LGBTI+” as well as film and discussion events in the same theme was planned to take place in our Beyoğlu district on 25.11.2017:

Because applications for the aforementioned events were not submitted within the framework of Law No: 2911 and 2559.

Because the events may be contrary to the Constitutional order or general morality, and because they may pose clear and immediate danger to public order and security:

They will not be allowed to ensure public order and security, to protect other people’s rights and freedoms and to prevent crime, within the framework of our District Governor’s 24/11/2017 2283 and 2284 decisions based on Law No: 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations’ Article 17 and 28, Law No: 2559 on Police Powers Appendix 1 and Law No: 5442 Article 32/ç.

Respectfully announced to the public.