State of Emergency

Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ is Released

Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Released Today after his statement at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Source: “Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ is Released”, (“ODTÜ LGBTİ+’dan Özgür Gür Serbest”), pembehayat, July 9, 2018, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1833

Özgür Gür from Middle East Technical University (METU),  LGBTI+ Solidarity, as well as the head of the Council of Student Representatives (CSR) was taken from his home and detained on Sunday, July 8. He was released today, July 9, after his statement at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Gür’s lawyer, Erkan Çiftçi, said that during Gür’s detainment at the police station he was questioned about banners put up at METU graduation ceremony which read: “We are not a group of students, but the school’s LGBTI+ people. We are here! It is our right to live safely on the streets and on campus.” Another banner read: “Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU.”

Çiftçi stated that Mehmet Gür also asked: “did you shout out ‘Rector Resign’ slogans?”

What had happened?

METU security guards attacked students who put up a rainbow flag and banners during the graduation ceremony.

At first the private security guards said “we’ll take the flag down”, then they threatened the students from METU LGBT+ Solidarity who put up a rainbow flag at the bleachers. The security guards attacked students when they put up banners during the rector’s speech that said, “We are not a group of students, but the school’s LGBTI+ people. We are here! It is our right to live safely on the streets and on campus” and “Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU.”

Three students were detained after the protests at the graduation ceremony on July 6, 2018. Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ Solidarity, the head of the CSR, was taken from his home today and detained.

 

Governorship of Adana bans the Pride March

The Adana Governorship has banned the first-to-be Pride March with the alleged justifications of “public safety”and “social sensitivity”.

Source: “Governorship of Adana bans the Pride March” (“Adana Valiliği, Onur Yürüyüşü’nü yasakladı”), kaosgl.org, July 6, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=26222.

The Adana Governorship has banned the Pride March that was supposed to take place tomorrow [7th of June]. The first march planned by the Adana LGBTI+ Solidarity has been banned by the Adana Governorship due to the supposed threats to public safety and social sensitivity.

The governorship in the official proclamation of the ban has stated:

“…[It was determined that ] this event which is to take place in an open space will incite hatred and hostility amongst a section of the public  with different characteristics in terms of social class, race, religion, sect or region against another part of society, that this might lead to imminent peril with regards to public security, that considering the intel regarding the terrorist groups preparing to act against opposing groups, that there may be reactions and provocations against the groups and individuals taking part in the organization due to certain social sensibilities and thus is not appropriate to take place”

There will be a press release

Adana LGBTI+ Solidarity has decided to have a press release tomorrow [7th of June] at 17.00 in the Adana Human Rights Association after the ban has been issued. The press release will cover the process regarding the ban and cancellation process of the first to be pride march of Adana with the theme “ban”.

Yeni Akit has targeted the Solidarity

Meanwhile, the Yeni Akit Gazette has targeted the Adana Pride March with their article titled “Mobil Homos are after provocation.”  After the gazette’s prior attack and call for a “ban” on the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March, the Adana Governorship has banned the Adana Pride March.

 

Istanbul Pride Week Committee’s Announcement Regarding Governor’s Decision Against the Pride March

Istanbul Pride Week Committee announced that the Pride March is to take place in spite of Governorship’s decision to ban the march. Below is the written statement published by the committee:

Source: “Our announcement to the public and press” (“Basına ve kamuoyuna duyurumuzdur”), Istanbul Pride Week Committee, June 29, 2018, https://www.facebook.com/istanbulpride/posts/1677107182416888:0

OUR ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE PUBLIC AND PRESS

“As Istanbul Pride Week Committee, we came together to organize the Pride March which is to take place in the last week of June as every year. Our Pride Week and March are very important for us to celebrate the pride we feel for our existence and to provide our visibility in a society in which we are systematically rendered invisible and are taught to be ashamed for our identities. It is no secret that the Pride March, which is ever more crowded with each year, takes place on the last Sunday of the month. We have been struggling with the same determination for the last 26 years, to make our call for the march be heard and to be visible.

As Article 3 of the Law on Assembly and Marches indicates, it is every citizen’s right to organize an assembly and march as long as it is peaceful, without prior permissions. However, as it is the case every year, this year too, we requested a meeting with the governorship in order to discuss our march, which is known to all the world. In the meeting we had with the governor’s aide, we were told that in previous years the march coincided with Ramadan in recent years, that this is not a hindrance this year as it is not Ramadan, however it is up to the Governor to decide.

After the meeting, the committee send a written notice regarding the week and the march to the Governorship. Unfortunately, the Governor’s reply points to the Law on Assembly and Marches which is supposed to protect our right to protest, and states that they will not be able to ensure our security, therefore it is not appropriate to organize the Pride March.

Pride March has been organized for 16 years and had taken place without any security issues for thirteen years straight, prior to the police assaults. Governorship of Istanbul stated Ramadan and security issues as an excuse first, yet for the last two years the march has not coincided with Ramadan and this year it has not received any threats, which demonstrates that the premises for the governorship’s bans are merely excuses and indeed the governorship’s decision is a part of the hatred against us.

The governor is committing a crime by using his authority to discriminate against a certain section of society. This decision is unlawful and only incites the hatred against us, therefore it is not legitimate. Yes, as the Governorship decision states we do have a security problem, yet the reason for this problem is none other than the Governorship and the police forces attacking our march, which our democratic right, every year. This decision has shown just how important Pride March is for us LGBTI+ individuals, trying to live in spite of the hatred directed towards us. This march takes place against [a backdrop of] the very violence and discrimination that the governorship’s decision further incites.

We announce to the public and press that  we will carry out our Pride March with the same determination as we have done for the last twenty six years and we would like to remind all that each lubunya [queer person] is a Pride March. “

Governorship of Ankara’s decision to ban the film screening of ‘Pride’

Source: Ankara Valiliği, “Yasaklama Kararına İlişkin Basın Duyurusu”, June 28, 2018, http://www.ankara.gov.tr/yasaklama-kararina-iliskin-basin-duyurusu-28062018

“Through social media, various print and visual media outlets, it has come to our attention that Komunist LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) is organizing a film screening of ‘Pride’ at Nazım Hikmet Cultural Center in Çankaya at 19:30 on June 28, 2018.

It was decided that the aforementioned social media shares might deliberately incite a certain segment of society with different characteristics of social class, race, religion, sect or region against another segment of society, that this might lead to imminent peril with regards to public security, that considering the intel regarding the terrorist groups preparing to act against opposing groups, that there may be reactions and provocations against the groups and individuals taking part in the organization due to certain social sensibilities.

Due to these circumstances, from June 28 onwards the film screening at Nazım Hikmet Cultural Center in Çankaya district, and within the scope of our city is banned by our Governorship, based on Article 11/C of the Law Of Provincial Administration, No 5442, within the scope of measures to be taken for the provision of peace, security, right to physical integrity and the public order, following Article 17 of Law No. 2911 on Assembly and Demonstration Marches and Article 11/F of Law No. 2935 on the State of Emergency.”

 

SPoD LGBTI statement after attack on office

On 26.06.2018, at around 21:30, during a volunteer meeting about training on STIs planned to take place in our office, someone knocked on our door. When our volunteers asked who it was the person behind the door replied “We know [name withheld] is in there, give them up!” Our volunteers did not open the door and told the people that there was no such person at the office and that they did not know this person, after which the people started punching the door, swearing at and threatening our volunteers. Our volunteers immediately called the police and the board members of our association.

The person behind the door insulted and threatened our volunteers saying: “I have my friends waiting downstairs, I will wait until you open up, you will come out eventually. It doesn’t matter if you call the police” and “I will catch you, all of you pimps, I will look everywhere, I know … is in there, if … comes out of there I will ruin you! I know you are keeping … in there.”

After this the attacker continued banging on the door. Meanwhile, the police arrived at the scene and started banging on the door together with the attacker. Our volunteers at the office did not open the door as they were not sure that those arriving were the police, nevertheless they asked them to take the attacker away.

At that moment, the police started shouting and asking questions outside their authority such as “What association is this! Who is there, why are you hiding?” and saying, “I will call the Directorate of Associations, aren’t you man enough to come out!”, “Are you afraid of one man?”. Our volunteer who had been communicating with the people behind the door refused to open the door saying, “Obviously you will not help us.” Despite our volunteers’ call to the police, the officers stood by the attackers who were violent and threatening. Another officer who arrived later at the scene said, “We are under state of emergency rule, we can break the door and enter!” and “Look fellas, we heard that someone is in there, I have to take the family’s complaint seriously.”

(more…)

Kaos GL: Co-founder Ali Erol has been detained

LGBTI activist Ali Erol, a member of the initial team to begin publishing Kaos GL magazine in 1994 and one of the founders of Kaos GL, was detained in a police operation on the house he shares with his life partner Friday morning.

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While there was no clear information on the grounds for Ali Erol’s detention, the lawyers said his social media posts were included in the detention warrant. The detentions of many people in Ankara police operations due to social media posts has been reported.

Detained Ali Erol is a leading LGBTI activist in the world and was the recipient of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award in 2013.

The detention of Erol, a leading activist in the LGBTI movement, once again shows the point freedom of expression has come to in Turkey. Erol’s detention following Ankara governor’s “ban on LGBTI events for an indefinite period” in November 2017 reveals once again the increase in obstacles and pressures against LGBTI rights.

Our lawyers are following the judicial process. We will continue sharing as we learn details.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right. LGBTI rights are human rights. We demand that one of our founders, LGBTI activist Ali Erol be immediately released!

Kaos GL Association

Editor’s note: Hundreds of people have been detained on alleged terror propaganda charges on social media relating to Turkey’s cross-border operation on a Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria. The Turkish military and allied Syrian opposition forces are fighting the People’s Protection Units or YPG in Afrin. Turkey considers the YPG a terror group and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its own borders. The YPG is also a key ally of the United States in combatting the Islamic State group in Syria. Operation Olive Branch was launched on Jan. 20 and the Turkish government has cracked down on critical opinions of the military offensive. 

Kaos GL: LGBTI+ rights in days of ban

We compiled what has happened before and after the Governorship of Ankara’s “indefinite” LGBTI+ ban, the rights violations and reactions against the ban.

Source: “Yasaklı günlerde LGBTİ+ hakları,” Kaos GL, Dec. 4, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25036

lgbtiyasaklanamaz

Over the past fifteen days,  the Governorship of Ankara banned LGBTI+ activities in the city on the premises of “social sensitivities and sensibilities”, “public security”, “protection of public health and morality” and “protection of others’ rights and liberties”.

During this period, the District Governorship of Beyoğlu has banned another scheduled event. We have reports of censorship of LGBTI+ activities coming in from many other cities.

We compiled the details of events that have transpired before and after the ban decision regarding the violation of our rights alongside reactions against the ban for readers of KaosGL.org:

“Gender Based Journalism Workshop” was Disrupted in Mardin

The “Gender Based Journalism Workshop”,  undertaken by IPS Communication Foundation and supported by Kaos GL, was planned for November 18, but could not take place in Mardin as it was targeted in the media.

On November 9, an event in Mardin was postponed after it was announced to the media in a piece titled “Mardinites: We don’t want these immoral people!”  Later editorials targeted the workshop and were published on Sabah’s website as well as on Güneş, HaberVaktim, Yeni Akit daily, and in other local media.

Hate speech was propagated on social media. Posts were made stating that there will be “gays marching in Mardin” on November 18 and that “we will stand against this situation and kill [them] if necessary”.

Governorship of Ankara and the German LGBTI Film Days Festival

In collaboration with the German Embassy, QueerFest and Büyülü Fener Cinemas, The German LGBTI Film Days festival was scheduled to take place in Ankara between November 16-17. These events were unfortunately canceled as they were banned by an official notice sent to Büyülü Fener Cinema by the Governorship of Ankara on Wednesday, November 15.

The day before the decision to ban was issued by  the governorship, Yeni Akit daily published an editorial defaming the event. In a news article titled “Support for the Perverts by the German Embassy”, Yeni Akit stated that the event was “supported by Germany which has participated in every activity meant to disrupt the country’s peace and will feature perverted films within the scope of the events [which are] to take place for two days”. The same newspaper announced the ban decision of the Governorship with the title “Governorship Slams the Brakes on Perverts”.

Prior to the governorship’s decision, hate speech was disseminated on social media with hashtags #LGBTfilmgünleriiptaledilsin (#LGBTfilmdaysshouldbecancelled) and #İstiklalimizeKaraLeke (#BlackStainOnOurIndependence)

Following the decision, the Pink Life QueerFest organizing committee issued a statement  indicating that, just like the arbitrary and unlawful ban against Pride Walk which took place over the past several years, the film screenings were banned using the same public security rhetoric and was only used to raise alarm over provocation and terror.  The Pink Life committee warned that this decision legitimized hate speech against LGBTI individuals and cast them as a threat to society.  Producers of QueerFest also stated that the decision deprives us of our constitutional rights under the disguise of “protecting” LGBTI individuals and continued: “The duty of the governorship is not to ban the marches or activities but to make sure that they take place in safety.”

Following the ban against the German LGBTI Film Days, the German Minister of State Michael Roth announced via his Twitter account that a rainbow flag was hung at the German Embassy. Roth wrote “The Governorship of Ankara banned the #LGTBI Film festival of our Embassy. The freedom of arts and minority rights are untouchable. This must be valid for Turkey too. Our colleagues in Ankara manifest their attitude clearly by unfurling the flag”.

After the governorship ban against the German LGBT Film Days festival, Hacettepe University subsequently banned a discussion titled “Gender and Discrimination” which had previously been approved.

The discussion planned for November 22, which was to be attended by Kaos GL as well, was banned with a verbal notice, even though there was official university approval 15 days prior.

The indefinite “public morality” ban from Governorship of Ankara

After the ban against the German LGBTI Film Days, which was scheduled to take place on November 16-17 in Ankara Büyülü Fener Cinema, the Governorship of Ankara announced on its website  the event has indefinitely banned “the activities undertaken by LGBTI civil society organizations” in Ankara. The statement lists banned activities as:  “film screenings, cinevision, theatre, panels, discussions, exhibitions etc. [and] activities”.

The governorship listed “social sensitivities and sensibilities”, “public securities, “protection of public health and morality” and “protection of others’ rights and liberties” as the reason for the ban.

Kaos GL and Pink Life : “The Ban is Arbitrary and Discriminatory”

In response to the Governorship of Ankara’s decision to ban,  Kaos GL and Pink Life have released a collective statement which announced that the governorship’s ban is unlawful, discriminatory and arbitrary and that a legal follow-up is in place.

Pink Life and Kaos GL indicated that the scope of the decision was vast and that it led to an ambiguous situation which ostensibly criminalizes LGBTI existence, opening  the door for further rights violations. They announced that the LGBTI civil society organizations have been fighting against discrimination and hatred as well as for equal citizenship for years and that this decision has rendered these associations inoperative.

In their statement, Pink Life and Kaos GL emphasized to the public these discriminatory policies are unacceptable as they are against Article 10 of the Constitution on equality in addition to Article 26 on freedom of expression and publication. Pink Life and Kaos GL also note these bans are in conflict with international conventions to which Turkey is a signatory.

LGBTI Associations of Ankara Take the Decision to Court

Kaos GL and Pink Life, LGBTI associations from Ankara have filed a lawsuit against the ban, demanding the ban be cancelled and its execution halted.  

The organizations call for the ban ordered by the Governorship on the premises of “social sensitivities and sensibilities”, “public security”, “protection of public health and morality” and “protection of others” rights and liberties to be cancelled and its enforcement be halted immediately as the ban can result in irremediable consequences.

Media Targeting LGBTI People and Hate Speech

LGBTI individuals and organizations were targeted in print press and digital media before and after the ban decision. Many media outlets, especially Yeni Akit daily, labelled the LGBTI individuals as “perverts”, “degenerates”, “against the public morality”. The hate speech was spread through libellous claims that LGBTI people are “diseases” or “criminal”.

Among these articles is a piece on Takvim daily’s website, titled “LGBTI Provocation Supported by CHP and HDP under the Control of Global Powers”, published November 14 . The article is an example of the press constructing a narrative of hate speech which is used to incite public discrimination of LGBTI persons as well as unlawful infringement on our rights.

Kaos GL is soon to publish its annual report which has tracked the use of discriminatory language and hate speech against LGBTI people in media on a daily basis coupled with reflections on the ban and the legal way forward.

Arbitrary Ban in Bursa

As part of the programing for events surrounding November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance, Bursa Özgür Renkler of LGBTI Association (Free Colors LGBTI Association) was pressured to cancel the screening of the film “Gacı Gibi” via  notification by police to event organizers that “the event will be shut down if it is not cancelled”.

Özgür Renkler LGBTI shared the cancellation on its social media accounts and wrote: “Our attorney got in touch with the Directorate of Security and was redirected to the security branch but received no answer at that office. We are yet to receive a written notification regarding the issue. We announce that we have cancelled the event and that we will be following [the process] as the association.”

District Governorship of Beyoğlu’s Ban Decision

“Queer Shorts” — a film screening and discussion panel planned to take place in Istanbul on November 25 in collaboration with Pink Life QueerFest, British Council and Pera Museum was banned by the District Governorship of Beyoğlu.

In a similar manner to the Governorship of Ankara, the district governorship in Beyoğlu indicated “[the event] might cause open and immediate danger against the public order and safety and might be against the constitutional order and public morality”.

Reactions against the Ban: #LGBTİYasaklanamaz (#LGBTICantBeBanned)

Keyfî yasaklara karşı kurulan LGBTİ+ Yasaklarını Geri Çekin Platformu, 29 Kasım’da #LGBTİYasaklanamaz ve 3 Aralık’ta #LGBTİFilmleriYasaklanamaz hashtagleri ile yasaklara karşı ses çıkardı. Her iki hastag kampanyası da Twitter’ın Türkiye gündeminde yer aldı. Çok sayıda sosyal medya kullanıcısı yasaklara karşı dayanışma mesajları paylaştı.

LGBTİ+ Yasaklarını Geri Çekin Platformu  (Withdraw the LGBTI+ Bans Platform) was created as a reaction to these unjust bans and  online advocates have protested the ban through the hashtag #LGBTIYasaklanamaz (#LGBTICantBeBanned) on November 29 and the hashtag #LGBTİFilmleriYasaklanamaz  (#LGBTIFilmsCantBeBanned) on December 3. Both hashtag campaigns were trending topics in Turkey on Twitter. Many social media users across the world shared solidarity messages with us against the bans.

A part of the statement of the platform is as the following: “We invite the national and international public to make some noise to end this nonsense. We demand decisions that restrict our liberties and take away our life spaces to be overturned immediately! We invite the authorities to bring life back to its normal flow.”

Film Screenings at METU

Aside from the lawsuits filed by Kaos GL and Pink Life associations, many LGBTI and human rights activists have reacted against the ban.

After the ban took effect, METU LGBTI+ Solidarity organized two film screenings for November 22 and November 24, to  the films “Pride” and “Romeos”. University administrators sought to prevent the LGBTI themed films by being screened by shutting down the power.

METU LGBTI+ Solidarity discussed the tensions which surrounded the screenings on both November 22 and November 24 through statements published on social media.

“The film screening planned for November 22 by Nar Women’s Solidarity was interfered with by the METU administration, by shutting down the power. The administration then retreated upon the reactions of the students and the film was screened.”

“On November 24, METI LGBTI+ Solidarity entered one of the physics classrooms in order to show the film “Romeos” which was on the schedule of the banned film screenings, after which METU administration shut down the power of the physics department. This caused GÜNAM (Solar Energy Research Center) to halt its studies, students were stuck in elevators and other students had to study for their midterms elsewhere.  In spite of all pressures and preventions, METU LGBTI+ Solidarity showed the film using a power source and a projector. This was followed by the METU administration sending a private security force of forty to the building, who did not refrain from threatening us with a ‘physical intervention’ “.

Altıok: The Decision is Discriminatory

In her press statement regarding Governorship of Ankara’s ban decision, CHP Vice Chair and İzmir MP Zeynep Altıok  stated that the decision is unlawful, misogynistic, and othering: “What discriminates and others the people is the decision of Governorship of Ankara which is polarizing the society, using diversity as an excuse.”

Ban Decision was Taken to Parliament

CHP Istanbul MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu has taken the governor’s ban decision to the parliament. Tanrıkulu presented a parliamentary question with the demand for a reply from PM Binali Yıldırım. The question asks whether the ban is discriminatory, whether the Governorship has a concrete document that can justify the ban, and whether the Governorship has taken necessary measures against discrimination.

Muiznieks:  Ban Clearly Disregards Turkey’s International Human Rights Obligations

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks issued a statement regarding the ban, indicating that it blatantly disregards the international human rights obligations of Turkey, especially the European Human Rights Convention. Muizneieks wrote:  “I call on the Turkish central authorities to ensure that decentralised administrations uphold human rights standards and that this regrettable decision of the Ankara Governor’s Office is reversed immediately”.

Meanwhile, representatives of United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union have contacted the LGBTI associations and received information regarding the incident.

Call for Solidarity from Balkans

ERA LGBTI Equal Rights, founded by the LGBTI organizations of Western Balkans and Turkey, published a statement regarding the LGBTI+ bans in Turkey stating:  “[…] local authorities, have taken yet another concerning step, by banning events like film screenings, exhibitions, forums, panels and meetings by LGBTI+ groups on what could be considered illegal grounds, infringing on fundamental human rights such as freedom of assembly, expression and association. Authorities have also given reasons for banning these events such as “social sensitivities and sensibilities,” “protecting public health and morality” and “protecting other people’s rights and freedoms.”

“We Defend the Cancellation of the Decision”

Council of Europe Conference of INGOs published a statement regarding the indefinite ban against the LGBTI activities declared by Governorship of Ankara: “We call upon all authorities to rescind the ban on events by LGBTI organisations in Ankara and not to slide back into another dark age where people have to hide who they really are. We plead that they annul these decisions which might incite and legitimise aggression against LGBTI persons, who once felt free and proud in Turkey”.

Antep Laughs against the Ban

Antep ZeugMadi LGBTI organized a press conference on December 3 against the Governorship of Ankara’s indefinite ban against LGBTI activities. ZeugMadi condemned the unlawful and discriminatory ban and stated “We were banned in Ankara and we were reborn in Antep”.

Çanakkale LGBTI+: We are on the Streets Despite the Bans, we are cleaning the beaches!

The volunteers of Çanakkale LGBTİ+ Initiative came together at Barış Kordonu on December 2 and cleaned the trash on the beaches. The initiative made an open call saying: “We are on streets despite the ban, we’re cleaning the beaches”. The group did not leave the beach for four hours in spite of the weather.