Barış Sulu

Group calls for massacre against LGBTIs in Turkey

The discourse of hatred directed at LGBT individuals is echoing on the street. A group, which calls itself the “Young Islamic Defense,” has put up posters in Ankara, calling for a massacre against LGBTIs.

Source: Kaos GL, “AKP’nin nefret siyaseti katliam çağrısına dönüştü” (“Turkey ruling party AKP’s politics of hatred has finally turned into a massacre call”), 7 July 2015, http://kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=19785

gencislamimudafaa

“If you see someone engaged in the dirty business of the tribe of Lot, kill the doer and the done both.”

The discourse of hatred against LGBTI deployed by President Tayyip Erdogan, the AKP government and the conservative media echoing on the street.

Participants of 13th LGBTI Pride Parade were attacked by the police. After, the AKP government declared Pride participants as “immoral” even though they proudly exhibited Pride in their election posters [as an example of freedom in Turkey]. “Conservative media” followed suit and fueled hatred.

The group, which calls itself “Young Islamic Defense” has been putting up posters throughout Ankara. The poster says, “If you see someone engaged in the dirty business of the tribe of Lot [1], kill the doer and the done both.”

Arguing that Muslims should not be silent about this issue, the group has publicly defended their call to massacre on their website: “In order to show that Islam absolutely does not allow this situation, we have shared this hadith, mentioned also in [hadith scholars] Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood: “If  you see someone engaged in the dirty business of the tribe of Lot, kill the doer and the done both!” Our wish is to learn the attitude Islam demands from us in light of the Qu’ran and the Sunnah, instead of the hodjas who cannot shout out what is rightful on television.”

The AKP’s politics is fueling hatred

In their 12 years of rule, AKP representatives from varying positions have made discriminatory statements and engaged in hate speech. However, the highest leaders of the AKP provoked hate in the extremely tense electoral atmosphere, revealing the AKP’s true self in matters of equality in human dignity with all of its nakedness. Through the government’s attack on Pride Parade, homophobic and transphobic hate groups have received the message in more clarity and have called for a massacre.

(more…)

The Campaign Against Homosexuality in Turkey’s Elections

Only days before Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary elections, unknown gunmen shot at the campaign office of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the early morning hours of June 2 in Eskisehir, a city in northwest Turkey. More than 100 attacks have been carried out against election offices of the HDP, a left-wing and pro-Kurdish party, during this campaign season, according to Dicle News Agency. [1] Though no one was hurt in the Eskisehir attack, the HDP’s openly gay candidate Baris Sulu, who runs his campaign from that office, left the city over safety concerns.

Sulu has been receiving threats since he declared his candidacy for the HDP nomination in February. A seasoned activist, Sulu says he joined the HDP because the party supported rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) people even at its nascent stage as the Peoples’ Democratic Congress in 2011. Sulu’s candidacy is highly notable in a conservative country where prejudice and harassment against LGBTI people is a fact of daily life. The number of threats rose in April with his official nomination but the dramatic increase came in May when pro-government media outlets started targeting him.

Pro-government Sabah and Star daily newspapers have called Sulu’s campaign “vile propaganda,” criticizing his tweets such as “recognize our sexual orientation” and for wanting “people to react normally to men kissing.” [23] The Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Akit, infamous for its attacks on LGBTI people, published blurred photographs of Sulu and his partner kissing under the title “Immoral prostitution images of the HDP’s perverted candidate revealed!” [4] The article was quickly reposted by other media outlets and social media users, which escalated the online threats.

In Turkey, media attacks often go hand-in-hand with similar statements from elected officials. President Erdogan, who has led the campaign for the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) despite the fact that his position calls for neutrality, lambasted the HDP on May 28 at a meeting in Ankara. “We don’t nominate so-called religious scholars in Diyarbakir [a pre-dominantly Kurdish city in Turkey’s southeast] and homosexuals in Eskisehir,” Erdogan said in reference to what he sees as the HDP’s pandering to opposing sensitivities of different regions of the country. [5]

Following Erdogan’s statements, two parliamentary hopefuls from the AKP, in an effort to garner votes from religiously conservative Kurds, have criticized the HDP for nominating an openly gay candidate, arguing that homosexuality cannot be reconciled with Islam.

At a campaign stop in the southeastern province of Siirt, AKP candidate Yasin Aktay criticized the HDP’s nominations and said, “You are the child of a Muslim. The Kurds are Muslim and if there are, excuse me, 3 homosexuals on the list of Muslims who defend man’s marriage to man, then I will ask you ‘who are you?’” Aktay concluded that “it is impossible for Muslim society to affirm a man’s marriage to a man.” [6]

Former Interior Minister and AKP candidate Efkan Ala expressed fear that the HDP would give gays and lesbians “all sorts of rights” such as the recognition of same-sex marriages. Speaking to his “Kurdish brothers” on a Turkish news channel, Ala said, “We are against such things that our morality and our traditions reject.” He warned his listeners “the tribe of Lot was destroyed because of this; this is the destruction of humanity,” referring to the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, a trope often used against LGBT communities in the Muslim world. [7]

Sulu says that after each public speech, he has received threats on Twitter from AK trolls, supporters of the AKP who launch large-scale smear campaigns on social media. They called him a pervert “who will burn in hell.” He blocks at least 10 accounts every day, but “systematic swearing, insults, and threats continue to come to all of my social media accounts,” Sulu said.

Sulu believes that Erdogan’s statement in 2002 that “homosexuals must also be given legal protection for their rights and freedoms” was only to appear sympathetic to the EU. [8] Now at the brink of losing a significant number of parliamentary seats to the HDP, “all their hidden fears, all the times they were being disingenuous, are coming out to the surface,” in the shape of homophobia. President Erdogan confirmed this at a June 3 rally in the eastern province of Bingol, when he said, “The Armenian lobby, homosexuals and those who believe in ‘Alevism without Ali’ – all these representatives of sedition are [the HDP’s] benefactors.” [9]

Sulu is last on the list of 6 HDP candidates in Eskisehir and, thus, unlikely to be elected into office. However, the nomination of an openly gay man for parliament is highly notable in Turkey, where 87 percent of respondents to Bahcesehir University’s 2012 survey, “Turkish Values Atlas,” said they do not want gay neighbors. [10] Since 2010, 47 individuals have been killed due to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. [11] In May alone there were 5 assaults on transgender individuals in Istanbul. [12]

The HDP’s nomination of an openly gay candidate has created campaign fodder for the AKP. While singling out Sulu could prove dangerous for the candidate, he remains hopeful. “If we as LGBTIs are taken so seriously, then we must be succeeding in our twenty year rights struggle,” Sulu said.

Zeynep Bilginsoy is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul. She’s also the founder and project manager of LGBTI News Turkey, an English translation resource on LGBTI issues in Turkey.

Turkey’s Former Minister of Interior: ‘Gay marriage is the destruction of humanity’

The former Minister of Interior and current candidate for parliament running with the AKP [Turkey’s ruling party] from Erzurum, opposed gay marriage on TGRT TV News program and said that “the tribe of Lot” was destroyed because of this.

Source: “Efkan Ala da hedef gösterme peşinde: Eşcinsel evlilik insanlığın helakıdır” (“Efkan Ala is also intent on pointing people out as targets: ‘Gay marriage is the destruction of humanity’”), Birgün, 2 June 2015, http://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/efkan-ala-da-hedef-gosterme-pesinde-escinsel-evlilik-insanligin-helakidir-82104.html

The former Minister of Interior and current candidate for parliament running with the AKP [Turkey’s ruling party] from Erzurum, opposed gay marriage on TGRT TV News program and said that “the tribe of Lot” was destroyed because of this.

Pointing Barış Sulu, the HDP’s Eskişehir LGBTI MP candidate, as a target[1], he said:

“For God’s sake, look at these candidates that the HDP put forth. I can’t even bring myself to say it. They have put forth candidates that our citizen [sic] cannot accept.”

Efkan Ala continued:

“Our Kurdish brothers are religious people. For God’s sake, look at these candidates that the HDP put forth. I can’t even bring myself to say it. They have put forth candidates that our citizen [sic] cannot accept. I mean let me say this, they have put forth a transvestite candidate. They put forth homosexuals as candidates. In its election declaration, the HDP says that these [sic] will be afforded all sorts of rights, of the right of a man to marry and be with a man and of the right of a woman to marry and be with a woman. We are saying that we are against such things on topics that our morality our tradition rejects. What is this, a man marrying a man, a woman marrying a woman. The tribe of Lot was destroyed because of this[1]. That is, this is the destruction of humanity.”


[1] Turkey has a history of political violence, hate crimes, and political assassinations that followed a governmental authority figure and/or mainstream media singling out a person or a group out as rightfully injurable with impunity. -Trans.

Barış Sulu: “I chose the HDP, because LGBTIs have been in the HDP since the beginning”

The HDP’s [Peoples’ Democratic Party] parliamentary candidate Barış Sulu: “I chose the HDP, because LGBTIs have been in the HDP since the beginning. It’s not a newly added group to the party.”

Source: Ali Kemal Akan, “HDP’yi seçtim çünkü LGBTI’liler baştan beri varlar” (“I chose the HDP, because LGBTIs have been in the HDP since the beginning”), Anadolu Agency, 25 May 2015, http://www.aa.com.tr/tr/rss/516349–hdp-yi-sectim-cunku-lgbtililer-bastan-beri-varlar

Barış Sulu, the HDP’s LGBTI candidate for Eskişehir, remarked, “I chose the HDP, because LGBTI individuals have been in the HDP since the beginning. It’s not a newly added group to the party.”

In an interview with the Anadolu Agency [Turkey’s semi-official news agency], Sulu noted that he has been working on LGBTI rights, and has been involved in LGBTI associations since 1998.

sulu-jpg20150525165852

Sulu said that he discussed the candidacy with his boyfriend and family when the HDP offered to nominate him. “I’m open to my family. I’m not in the closet. I received the greatest support from my family and my boyfriend as the process moved along. I spoke with my friends from the HDP; I consulted them a lot.”

Nominated by the HDP as the sixth parliamentary candidate for the Eskişehir province, Sulu remarked that he’s not new to politics.

“I’ve been working on LGBTI issues for the last 17 years. I believe that I start doing politics automatically the moment I say ‘I’m here.’ I started my political life the moment I said ‘I’m gay, I live in this country, and I’m not going anywhere. I start my struggle right here.’”

Sulu noted that his candidacy will pave the way for more LGBTI candidacies in future elections even if he is not elected this term: “In four years, elections will turn into something completely different. There may be more than just one gay man; there may be a lesbian candidate, a trans candidate. Things can be completely different in four years from now.”

Sulu reiterated the fact that he’s been in the HDP since the time when the organization was known as the HDK: “I chose the HDP, because LGBTI individuals have been in the HDP since the beginning. It’s not a newly added group. During the HDK phase, Ertuğrul Kürkçü would say “We’re here, you’re welcome here” in 22 languages in his speeches, because 22 different languages are spoken in this country. LGBTIs were present in that process. All these different identities were already together. They have been in the process since the very beginning.”

Noting that CHP has also intensified its LGBTI work, Sulu said, “I’ve been to the Parliament often, because I’ve been involved in LGBTI activism for years. I’ve participated in meetings to express our issues. CHP places a lot of parliamentary questions about LGBTIs and so does the HDP. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other parties that produce knowledge about LGBTIs, support them, or acknowledge that LGBTIs are being discriminated against.”

Sulu commented that he had incorrectly expected the CHP to nominate an LGBTI candidate for the upcoming elections, though Anadolu Party nominated one in Izmir.

Sulu was informed about his candidacy through a phone call that he received from the HDP headquarters. “Demirtaş is already talking about the rights of LGBTI individuals. He asserted, ‘If this is a risk, then we’re taking that risk.’ The HDP has an LGBTI committee, just like a women’s committee and a youth committee. It’s in a state of dialogue. We have an election manifesto, a section of which reads ‘We’re the rainbow.’ This is a pamphlet that has been distributed to all provinces for all the party members to read and learn from.”

Sulu notes that 85 percent of Turkey’s population does not want to see an LGBTI candidate: “I have been in Diyarbakır several times. There’s a different atmosphere there. The perception of LGBTIs doesn’t change wherever you go. Maybe the current process will soften that perception. It will help people understand more. We’re being killed despite our right to live. That’s what we’re talking about. We say, we can’t receive an education, we’re kicked out of schools, we experience bullying. We experience a whole other set of issues at hospitals. We can’t find work. People are forced to do different kinds of work. They are pushed to the margins of society. We’re trying to talk about these issues and I believe that our voice is heard here and there.”

Star News: “Vile propaganda from the HDP’s homosexual candidate”

Translator’s Note: As Turkey’s June 7 general elections approach, there is an increasing use of LGBTI by the governing Justice and Development Party representatives and pro-government media to criticize the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party. We have provided a verbatim translation of an article on openly gay candidate for parliament Barış Sulu, which appeared in pro-government media. Note that the word “faggot” has been reclaimed by LGBTIs in Turkey and is not considered an insult as exemplified by activist Levent Pişkin’s case and subsequent statements by LGBTI associations.

Source: Star, “HDP’li eşcinsel adaydan rezil propaganda!”, “Vile propaganda from the HDP’s homosexual candidate”, Star, 22 May 2015, http://haber.star.com.tr/politika/hdpnin-escinsel-adayindan-rezil-propaganda/haber-1030697

The HDP’s [Peoples’ Democratic Party], which claims to be Turkey’s party, candidate for parliament from Eskişehir, Barış Sulu, who is an LGBTI member is drawing a big reaction due to his election propaganda with swear words. Sulu questions the morality of people who are uncomfortable with two men kissing.

The HDP, which is trying to create the image of being a party of Turkey to cross the 10 percent threshold, has promised to recognize and create social policies for LGBTIs which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. As a reflection of this promise, it put forth LGBTI member Barış Sulu as a candidate for parliament from Eskişehir in the 6th rank. Once his candidacy was declared, HDP’s candidate for parliament Barış Sulu started writing messages on Twitter that begin with “I am a f****t” to make a propaganda for the widening of LGBTIs rather than the HDP. Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan has criticized the HDP’s LGBTI attitude, which is no longer a life choice of Barış Sulu but rather a propaganda that imposes on everyone to accept [LGBTI].

Time for Propaganda with Swear Words

The HDP’s homosexual candidate for parliament Barış Sulu was presented to Turkey with a Hürriyet newspaper interview titled “A woman, a man and a gay marriage” and he is after a homosexuality propaganda on Twitter. Instead of asking for votes for the HDP, Sulu makes the propaganda “Recognize our sexual orientation” and wants people to react normally to men kissing. He approaches homosexuality using the swear word f*g and does not abstain from insulting all homosexuals. While doing this, Barış Sulu also uses religious elements in his propaganda.

Gathering votes with the call to prayer lie

Barış Sulu wrote a Twitter message saying “If two men kissing bothers you more than two men killing each other, then you need to urgently question your moral understanding” and then hunted for votes by taking refuge in religious elements by saying “Call to prayer and prayer delayed by 50 minutes because Erdoğan was speaking”. In another message he insults all homosexuals by saying “I know very well that I am a f****t, please rise from the primary school level and be more creative, know yourself, relax and come out”.

Is this how to become a party of Turkey?

Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan has also reacted against the HDP’s homosexuality propaganda through Barış Sulu. Akdoğan reminded that “the HDP claims to “become a party of Turkey” and said, “How can a party that says (I will become a party of Turkey) have a terror organization in its substitutes? One municipal leader gets up and says, “there was a pontic genocide and Turkey massacred 350 thousand people”. So you will become a party of Turkey by talking about the Armenian genocide, the pontic genocide and insult your own country? They put forth homosexual candidates and are defending homosexual marriage. Will the HDP become a party of Turkey by defending this?”

Pro-Kurdish and minority rights HDP pledges to eliminate discrimination against LGBTIs

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced its election manifesto which places a strong emphasis on anti-discrimination protections and social policies for LGBTI people.

Kaos GL, “Pro-Kurdish HDP pledges LGBTI equality”, 21 April 2015, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=19240

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas announced their manifesto today for the June 7 elections.

The party, which has to pass the 10% election threshold to be in the Parliament, made pledges on social rights, union rights and freedoms, conscientious objection, women’s rights, youth, the Kurdish issue and the resolution process, judicial reform and democracy.

The manifesto also explains the HDP’s LGBTI politics under the section “LGBTIs’ equal, free and proud right to life” as follows:

(more…)

Gay and trans candidates to run for parliament seat in Turkey’s general elections

Political parties in Turkey announced their candidate lists for the upcoming parliamentary election. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party nominated 3 LGBTI activists as candidates, albeit from lower positions. A trans activist was also nominated as a candidate for the newly founded Anatolia Party.

Source: “Gay and trans candidates to run for Turkish general elections”, kaosGL.org, 8 April 2015,  http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=19141

Political parties in Turkey submitted their lists of candidates to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on April 7 as the country prepares for the June 7 general elections. Only 4 LGBTI activists were nominated as candidates for the 550-seat parliament and they are at lower positions on the lists, which postpones the hopes for the first openly LGBTI member of parliament in Turkey until the 2019 elections.

Barış Sulu, an openly gay Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate, was nominated from Eskisehir in the last position. For Sulu, having LGBTI candidates itself is more valuable than their position on the list. However, he said that he wished there were more LGBTI candidates.

baris_sulu_hdp_candidate

Barış Sulu carrying a banner which reads: “LGBT rights is a whole that cannot be divided!”

In a KaosGL.org interview last month, Sulu approached the ongoing Kurdish resolution process from the LGBTI perspective and said: “Peace must also be made with the LGBTIs in the resolution process.”

The HDP, which has to pass the 10 percent electoral threshold, also nominated two feminist and LGBTI activists -Özlem Sen from Mersin in the 4th position and Gülistan Aydoğdu from Ankara in the 12th position- as candidates.

Deva Özenen, a Christian trans woman in Izmir, was nominated as a candidate by the Anatolia Party which was founded by Emine Ülker Tarhan who resigned from the main opposition Republican People’s Party last year.

devaozenen

Deva Ozenen (left) and Emine Ulker Tarhan (right)

“I am an ‘other’ both as a trans and as a Christian. By nominating me as a candidate, the Anatolia Party showed that they are not canvassing,” Ozenen told KaosGL.org.

Ozenen also underlined that Kemalism is not an elitist ideology but it embraces all oppressed groups including sexual minorities.