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.

 

 

KaosGL: Transphobia at Victoria’s Secret’s Istanbul Zorlu Center branch

A Victoria’s Secret branch at Istanbul Zorlu Center prevented a trans customer from shopping, claiming “customers are uncomfortable.”

Source: “Transphobia at Victoria’s Secret’s Zorlu Branch,” kaosGL.org, 30 June 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=2411

Victoria’s Secret branch at Istanbul Zorlu Center prevented a trans customer from shopping, claiming that “customers are uncomfortable” On June 28, Gülşen Afife went to Zorlu Center Victoria’s Secret store to buy a bra. After finding the right product with the help of a sales advisor she walked towards the changing room, but the changing room clerk started laughing and called the store manager. The managers told Gülşen Afife “customers are uncomfortable, you can’t use the changing room”.

“The clerk called the manager laughing”

Here is Gülşen Afife’s account of the transphobic and discriminatory practice she was exposed to:

“Yesterday (June 28) around 17:00, I went to Zorlu Center Victoria’s Secret store to buy a bra that I needed. After finding the right product with the sales advisor, I went in the changing room to try it on. Those who are familiar with changing rooms know, each cabin is designed like a room, with an armchair inside. You enter the room with the clerk who helps you while trying the product on. There is no possibility for anyone to see you.

When I got in the changing room area, I told the clerk that I would like to try it on and that I’m waiting in line. The clerk went out laughing and two women claiming to be the managers arrived after two minutes. Meanwhile some of the cabins became available but I couldn’t enter any of them since there were no clerks to help me with the product.

“Please don’t, sir”

One of the two women said ‘Unfortunately you can’t try it on here, we can’t allow you.’ When I asked the reason, she told me that women are try on things here and they haven’t allowed it before. I said ‘I am a woman’ but they replied ‘Please don’t, sir.’

“Customers are uncomfortable”

I asked ‘Is this a company policy?’ I said ‘An international company who employs many LGBTIs from the designer to the presser of this bra I’m holding in my hands cannot have such a decision’ She said ‘We have many gay employees but the customers are uncomfortable with you trying it on here, we got feedback.’

‘If they are customers, who am I? Who gets uncomfortable from what in closed cabins? Are they uncomfortable at the common waiting area? Then you shouldn’t let trans women and gay people to enter the store’ I said. When they repeated ‘Don’t take it personally, we have gay employees, it’s not a personal matter, customers are getting uncomfortable,’ I didn’t want to take it further. As a trans women at the beginning of her transition process, I indicated that what they are doing is a hate crime and discrimination, and I had to leave the store while receiving support from other women in the cabins.”

Gülşen Afife, who was subjected to a transphobic practice in Victoria’s Secret store at Istanbul Zorlu Center, stated that she will press charges on the ground of discrimination.

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

Istanbul governor’s office press statement banning 2017 Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride

Source: T.C. Istanbul Valiliği, “Basın Duyurusu,” 24 June 2017, http://istanbul.gov.tr/tr/guncel/haberler/basin-duyurusu-24-06-2017

It has been understood that a call for a march called “Pride March” is being made by LGBTI members on some media organizations, internet sites and social media for 17:00 Sunday, 25 June 2017 in our province’s Beyoglu district’s 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 march that is being organized will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are in the area on tour, and in regards to public order, a meeting and demonstration march will not be allowed on the mentioned day, before or after.

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.