Discrimination

The LGBTI media reference guide is out

Source: “Gazeteciler İçin LGBTI haberciliği rehberi çıktı” (The LGBTI media reference guide is out), Bia News Source,  July 9, 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/medya/157064-gazeteciler-icin-lgbti-haberciligi-rehberi-cikti

The guide answers the question of what reporters need to pay attention to when covering issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Kaos GL and Pink Life, Turkish LGBTI organizations, have compiled a practical media reference guide for journalists reporting on LGBTI issues.

The guide provides a framework for keeping in regard certain points when reporting on LGBTI related policies in Turkey. The guide offers rights based suggestions on topics regarding use of language and terminology in reporting news related to gender, violence and suicide, news sources, off the record statements, use of photography, and respecting privacy.

What should a reporter pay attention to?

The guide includes excerpts from news reports that include hate speech against  the LGBTI community and explains the approach to reporting taken by the news portal of KaosGL.org and Kaos GL magazine.

  • We defend the freedom of news, commentary and critique. However, we distinguish between the news, commentary and opinion regarding current events. An author can express their personal opinion on the reported issues only by signing their name under the article.
  • The journalist reports news and refrains from commentary.
  • We do not state agreement with anyone.
  • We do not draw conclusions from any information.
  • We do not homogenize people and events.
  • We do not judge anyone.
  • We do not exclude anyone.

The role of the media workers

The guide underlines the important role media workers play in spreading awareness of forms of discrimination related to gender, sexual orientation and gender identity across a wider base in society.

Below is a sample of suggestions from the guide to news coverage:

Gay man, lesbian woman vs. heterosexual man/woman?

References in news reports to individuals’ gender, sexual orientation and gender identity in contexts where these are irrelevant to the content of the news constitute discrimination. Just as we do not mark heterosexual and male individuals as heterosexual male; we should not be marking women, gays, bisexuals and trans individuals when such characterizations have no direct relevance to the news content.

Being gay is not a matter of “confession”

“They confessed” as in “They confessed they are gay” is one of the misused expressions that appears widely in the news media and in public. Being gay is not a crime nor a mistake, therefore it is not a matter of confession. The appropriate expression should be “they announced they are gay.”

“The transvestite whose real name is…”!

News reports use trans individuals’ names as they appear in their identity cards without their permission. Reporters must use the person’s chosen name and surname.

Gender transition, not gender change

Instead of gender change/correction surgery, use “gender transition surgery” or “gender reconstruction surgery.” Phrases like ‘change’ presume the assigned gender as their basis and contribute to the perception that trans individuals are  less  “woman” or “man” than how they feel and express. This aggravates the othering process.

Sexual orientation, not sexual preference

It is inaccurate to use the term “sexual preference” to describe homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality. Like heterosexuality,  homosexuality and bisexuality are sexual orientations; transsexuality is about gender identity. The  terms “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” must be used instead of “sexual preference“ in accordance with these definitions.

Avoid unnecessary innuendos

In reports relating to LGBTI people, there should be no references to derogatory slang in headlines or no reporting using such slang. It is important to avoid unnecessary references and innuendos such as “The ball is in the court for the LGBTI association court case” in order not to reproduce discrimination.

click for the guide

 

An Ugly March…

Source: Dursun Ali Bulut, “Çirkin Yürüyüş” (“An Ugly March…”), Milli Gazete, 29 June 2014, http://m.milligazete.com.tr/haber/Cirkin_Yuruyus/325704

The kinds of sexual perversion that stand opposed to human nature and are strictly banned by God as well as the efforts to legitimize these perversions are becoming more daring by the day.

Gays who have been able to form associations for years now and who receive support from various circles, especially the European Union, roamed the streets during Ramadan. The 22nd LGBTI march to be organized on the second day of Sacred Ramadan aims to throw the biggest party in Istanbul with 100 thousand participants. Members of the organizing committee say that they have been working like crazy and are moving forward very fast adding the following: “This year, our goal is to include the entire city. We have been organizing the march in Istanbul for 12 years. Twelve years ago, we only had fifty people walking or delivering the press declaration. Now, we are organizing a march that is to be attended by over 100 thousand people. We are a huge family and we cannot be stopped!

They want to enter each home

LGBTI member Görkem Ulumeriç says, “We want to enter each home and communicate with everyone and we have a lot more left to do.” Another LGBTI organization committee member Şevval Kılıç says, “We have been working like crazy. We were able to achieve our current day success by communicating with everyone around us: With Kurds, feminists, socialist, anti-militarists, and environmentalists… We wish to highlight this. When there were 20 or 30 thousand of us marching, we thought ‘Wow, it is so nice that there are so many of us this year.’ Then we saw last year that the march included 60 or 70 thousand people. There were too many of us for Istiklal Avenue to hold. And this year, we expect 100 thousand people.”

“Twelve years ago we were 50, now we are 100 thousand people”

Ulumeriç claims that the disgrace they put forth is the greatest activity in Istanbul. He adds, “They start preparing days in advance; they pick out their costumes. They share photos on social media websites and they tweet. This year, we are preparing for 100 thousand people. Istanbul is a huge city; our aim is to organize this march with a million people. This should be a festivity, like any other. You know like, when you think about what you will wear for some occasion and anticipate it with excitement, like the new years’, and when you know you will have a great time and see your friends and your loved ones…”

They spread all over the country like cancer

This disgrace that has spread all over the country like cancer continues to expand each day. LGBTI individuals state that they are active in many parts of Anatolia: “Many LGBTI persons have the courage to organize. Take for instance, Hewi LGBT, which is the Kurdish LGBTI initiative. There is an organization now in Malatya and one in Trabzon called the Purple Fish. Dersim LGBTI is newly founded; the Mersin organization became an association and the Hebun formation in Diyarbakır also became an association. There is the Kars LGBTI organization. And last year Pride Parades were organized in Izmir and in Antalya. This year, there will be one in Malatya too. Finally, the panel on local Anatolian LGBTI organizations will take place on 27 June.”

 

The winners of the genetically modified tomato awards did not claim their awards this year either

Source: Elvan Yarma. “Hormonlu domates ödülleri’nin sahipleri bu yıl da ödülü almaya gelmedi,” (“The winners of the genetically modified tomato awards did not claim their awards this year either”), Hürriyet Kelebek, 28 June 2014, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/kelebek/hayat/26690059.asp

The tenth annual award ceremony of The Genetically ModifiedTomato Awards, given to homophobes, took place last night. The Awards Ceremony was initiated by LGBTI solidarity foundation Lambdaistanbul and is organized with the support of other LGBTI associations. For the first time this year, the Genetically Modified Tomato Awards took place in a municipal building. The Municipality of Şişli made available the Şişli Urban Cultural Center for the ceremony.

For those who are curious, the name “Genetically Modified Tomato” dates back to 2005 when [former football referee and current football commentator] Erman Toroğlu declared, “don’t eat genetically modified tomatoes, they will make you gay.” This statement had earned him the first ever Genetically Modified Tomato Award. The Awards Ceremony is one where the handing of awards is accompanied not with applause but with booing. The ceremony started with Mademoiselle Coco (nickname for Seyhan Arman) mentioning this Sunday’s Pride Parade with her idiosyncratic style: “Oh honey but I heard they were not going to let us walk this year!”

Organizations from various provinces participated in the ceremony including Purple Fish from Trabzon, Zeugmadi from Gaziantep, Istanbul Bears from Istanbul and many more. The organization network has become so large that as Mademoiselle Coco read the list of associations she kept saying, “Oh you’re one of us too?” When the awards were being handed out, the presenters expressed their dismay at not being able to award all the candidates and wishfully said, “Perhaps one day they may accept that they are wrong and come to receive this award.”

Victims of hate murders and those subjected to hate crimes were commemorated during the ceremony. As the organizers put forth, “If 99% of a social sector are sex workers, there’s a problem.”

When I attended the “hormone party” that took place at the Neo Club after the Awards, this time it was I, as a heterosexual person, who felt like the “other.” Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans individuals danced together at the club. But lining up against the sidewalk at the exit, I noticed that they all stood a foot apart from me. Who knows? Perhaps that gap will be filled when Turkey is changed so that hate murders and words of “homosexuality is a disease” are not everyday occurrences and when homosexual individuals may be considered as presidential candidates.

WINNERS OF THE GENETICALLY MODIFIED TOMATO AWARDS

Politics: PM Erdoğan, for initiating a defamation case about the tweet, “It is not as if we will learn from you how to be a fag.”

Media: Yeni Akit Daily, for the following court defense, “Homosexuality and its derivatives are psychological disorders.”

Entertainment: Okan Bayülgen, for saying that there is an increase in homosexuality because young boys end up having to have intercourse with each other due to a scarcity of brothels.

Education: Yeditepe University, for banning one trans woman from entering campus and for turning down the application of a student LGBTI research group, with the explanation that the club would “degrade the university’s reputation.”

Sports: Former Fenerbahçe footballer Mateja Kezman, for saying that homosexuality is a disease and that it should not be encouraged, and for other homophobic declarations when footballers in Amsterdam decided to offer support for Pride.

Social spaces: Kızılay Shopping Center, for banning entry to three trans women with the words of “We don’t allow your kind in here.”

Censorship: The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), for banning access to LGBTI organizations’ websites.

International: Russia, for legally banning homosexual propaganda.

Institution: The Ministry of Internal Affairs, for allegedly putting pressure on the police officer, who had lost his job due to sexual discrimination, into providing the names of other gay members of the police force.

We had the opportunity to speak with Gizem from Lambdaistanbul before the ceremony.

What is the purpose of these awards?

The main purpose is to identify homophobic and transphobic persons and institutions.

What would you say bothers LGBTI individuals most in Turkish society and politics?

We are not accepted, not in terms of our rights and not in terms of visibility. The discourse of “homosexuality is a disease” is still widespread among many politicians. On the other hand, we are glad to see changes in the approaches of BDP [Peace and Democracy Party], HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] and CHP [Republican Peoples’ Party] towards homosexuality in the last few years. As per AK Party [Justice and Development Party], we don’t anticipate any such change from them any time soon.

The presidential elections are coming up. Will there be candidates who represent you?

My personal opinion is that none of them represent me. We recently heard Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu [joint candidate for the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) -trans.] declare, “Homophobia is not a universal matter.” The candidates are quite explicit about where they stand.

Do you think that Turkey may have a homosexual president in the future?

Of course. Why would we keep fighting if we did not believe this! Unfortunately though, I don’t think this will happen in the near future.

Do you think that there have been changes in how public or private corporate firms regard LGBTI individuals?

There have always been LGBTI individuals working in corporate firms. What we want is for them to be visible in those workplaces. During a recent investigation in relation to a gay police officer losing his job, the Ministry of Internal Affairs released a written statement saying, “Homosexuality is disparaging for civil service. The society needs to see honorable and reputable individuals in office in order to trust in such institutions.”

Don’t be Afraid, Listen, Understand: Professor Şahika Yüksel tells us about transsexuals

Source: Hazal Özbarış, “Korkma, dinle, anla: Şahika Hoca Transseksüelleri Anlatıyor,” (“Don’t be Afraid, Listen, Understand: Professor Şahika Yüksel tells us about transsexuals,”) t24, June 9, 2014. http://t24.com.tr/haber/korkma-dinle-anla-sahika-hoca-transseksuelleri-anlatiyor,260612

From the “wall” surgeries of 1980s to the Bülent Ersoy law, from Rüzgar Erkoç to the trans individual who sued Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights

Brother Bülent1

Mistakenly” used every now and then to publicly refer to Bülent Ersoy2, who has had surgery 33 years ago, this phrase is a never-exhausted theme in celebrity news in Turkey. The name of the reaction, which extends from that reflex-like chuckle given when reading news such as this, all the way to murder, is transphobia.

Because this transphobia is shared by the majority of people, even though the sentence for murder with intent is life in prison, if the murdered victim is trans, the following two statements will be sufficient for a judge to reduce the sentences:

I thought they were a woman.”

They propositioned [me] to have anal sex.”

Thus, the judge, “whose manhood is said to be at stake” and who is of the same gender as the murderer, determines that the murderer has been unduly provoked, and Turkey, yet again, is guaranteed to be number one [in trans murders] in Europe.3

The theme of Trans Pride Week, which will be held on 16th-22nd June, is “The State is The Perpetrator” because of the hatred, attacks, and murders that trans people experience, not only in the courtroom, but in all arenas where the state leaves its mark.

In order to learn more about the Turkey that is experienced by trans people, and that hardly features in news media or popular television programs, we visited Prof. Şahika Yüksel.

(more…)

On the Dismissal of Police Officer F.E.: “These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”

Source: Burcu Karakaş. “Bu tür memurlar hemen ayıklanır!” (“These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”) Milliyet, 16 June 2014, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/bu-tur-memurlar-hemen-ayiklanir–gundem-1897738/

Police officer F.E. had been dismissed from office with a disciplinary investigation because he is gay. When he went to court to amend the decision, he received the following answer from the Ministry of Internal Affairs: “The law foresees that these kinds of officers are to be immediately cleaned out!”

Police officer F.E. was subjected to disciplinary investigation because he is gay and the investigation resulted in his removal from office. He went to the court to appeal the decision. His suit was rejected by every court that he applied to. Upon his appeal to the Council of State, he received a written response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Deputy Legal Advisor. The statement included scandalous phrases. One Ministry official stated the following: “It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage people’s confidence in the administration. The law aims to prevent these kinds of developments and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and thus eliminated from the instruments of administration.” Even though the Council of State Investigation Judge wrote a dissenting opinion noting the right to “private life,” F.E.’s plea was overruled by majority voting.

“Embarrassing actions”

In 2009, there was a denunciation against Istanbul police officer F.E. with allegations that he kept child pornography. The police raided his house based on the allegations, which turned out to be false. It was decided that there was a lack of grounds for legal action. However, certain documents were found on F.E.’s computer, which pointed to the fact that he is gay. This resulted in a disciplinary investigation on his behalf. The investigation ended with the Ministry of Internal Affairs High Disciplinary Commission ruling for F.E.’s removal from civil service due to the charge of “acting in shameful and embarrassing ways that do not agree with the qualities of civil service.” Upon this decision, the police officer went to the 8th Administrative Court in Istanbul to demand that the decision be reversed. The court maintained that the ruling was within legislation and rejected F.E.’s appeal.

After this rejection, F.E. appealed to the Council of State. The 12th Department of the Council of State studied and rejected F.E.’s appeal eight months ago, thereby approving the decision of his removal from office. At this time, F.E.’s lawyer Fırat Söyle took the appeal back to the 12th Department of the Council of State with a request to revise the decision.

Council of State Investigation Judge Şevket Polat argued that the actions, which resulted in F.E.’s removal from office, were to be considered within the framework of “private life” in accordance with the 20th article of the Constitution as well as the 8th Article of the European Convention on Human Rights. Polat thus put forth that these actions did not constitute a disciplinary breach and advised for an issue of stay order. However, members of the department unanimously rejected the judge’s request with the justification that “the reasoning presented did not constitute due grounds for a stay order.”

“He lives with a woman who is of legal age”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs delivered a statement in response to the appeal about revising the decision. The statement included the justifications for why F.E. had to be removed from office. The Ministry Deputy Legal Advisor Adnan Türkdamar authored the statement, which explains that there were times when F.E. shared the same living quarters with two men who are known to be gay. Also, F.E.’s living together with a woman was described as a “shameful and embarrassing action.”

The Ministry responded with the following in relation to the discrimination appeal: “The law aims for civil service to be carried out by credible, trustworthy and socially prestigious agents. It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage individuals’ confidence in the administration and result in undesirable developments in the relations between individuals and the administration. As such, the law aims to prevent such a development and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and that these kinds of officers are eliminated from the instruments of administration.”

You can’t call it a reform if the Penal Code excludes the LGBTI

Source: Yıldız Tar. 2014. “LGBTİ’siz TCK Düzenlemesine Reform mu Denir?” (“You can’t call it a reform if the Penal Code excludes the LGBTI”). Kaos GL. June 6, 2014. Accessed June 6, 2014. http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=16789

 

Attorney Hülya Gülbahar evaluated the proposed changes to the Turkish Penal Code apropos sexual assault: “This is social engineering. LGBTIs are intentionally being forgotten, ignored. How can one call it a reform while excluding LGBTIs?”

The blanket bill* of changes to the sections of the Turkish Penal Code concerning sexual assault against women and children have been debated quite a bit and are still being discussed. Women’s rights organizations stated that the proposed changes will ease punishment for a number of crimes and will set free many rapists and abusers.

Flirt is becoming a crime

One of the problems under debate is the section of the proposed changes that increases prison sentences for relations between youths aged between 15 and 18. Women’s rights organizations have emphasized that this proposal “incorporates the act of flirting into the definition of a crime.”

The organizations stated that youth flirting and “underage and forced marriages” are two separate issues. “Neither the society nor the laws should be introduced to such a conceptual confusion on this issue. It is a shared responsibility for all of us to protect children from abuse; forbidding youth from expressing sexuality is a conservative policy that would produce new social rights violations.”

In the wake of the debates and the objections to the administration’s attempt at “conservatization” and “social engineering,” Attorney Hülya Gülbahar evaluated the proposal from an LGBTI perspective.

How can one call it a reform while excluding LGBTIs?”

Gülbahar, who noted that while the administration is discoursing about protecting women and children, it is actually enacting legislation in the opposite path, stated:

“Yet again, we are debating the Turkish Penal Code. The administration talks about ‘protecting’ women and children but there is no mention of crimes committed against LGBTI individuals! Yet, the Turkish Penal Code defines and regulates crimes. It is necessary for individuals to be protected from crimes while not being subjected to discriminatory practices. Yet, in this package of so-called “reformation,” there exists not a single word regarding LGBTIs. Just a few days ago,a defendant was rewarded with “provocation” and “good behavior” in the case of a trans murder. How can one call a proposed change in laws “reform”  when it does not incorporate the rights of LGBTI individuals, whose humans rights, including that of freely walking down the street, are being violated systematically?”

The same tune since 2005!

Gülbahar noted how sexual orientation and gender identity were excluded from the 2005 anti-discrimination law proposal:

“We experienced the same debate with the ruling party, the AKP, in 2005. We succeeded in adding an amendment against discrimination against LGBTI individuals to the proposed legal changes after intense struggle and extensive effort. But they removed this amendment from the final revision of that proposal… And so, not only were LGBTIs expunged from protection under the Turkish Penal Code, but also the society received a message that legitimized all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals.”

LGBTIs are intentionally disregarded”

Gülbahar, who noted that LGBTIs are intentionally being disregarded, evaluated these practices as the product of a certain social engineering project and added:

“They are yet again effacing the topic in the package of Turkish Penal Code changes being debated in the parliament. This is because the desire is for the continuance of the ongoing discrimination and violence. Indeed, regarding sexual crimes, there exists in this proposal an open ended medicalizing emphasis of “illness” that may lead to surgical castration. With regards to theft and drug-related charges, the punishments are extremely heavy. These are the product of a social engineering project… It is also a necessity of such social engineering to maintain silence on all sorts of identity-based crimes against LGBTI individuals. An intentional forgetfulness/ disregard… A dangerous silence…”

 


Translator’s Note:

  • “Torba yasa tasarısı / değişikliği,” here translated as “blanket bill of changes,” is a type of proposed changes to laws and regulations on a range of diverse areas, rather than a specific legal issue. In Turkey, as in abroad, this political strategy is employed often when the proposed changes to law include controversial items that would not be approved by themselves or when some changes, often buried into the “bag of changes,” take away certain rights from citizens or enable governmental and/or corporate corruption, while others, often emphasized during the promotion of the “bag,” provide changes perceived to be positive.

“That thing does not suit MHP!”

Source: Hazal Özvarış, “‘That Thing does not Suit MHP!’” (“‘O Şey MHP’ye Uymaz!’”), T24, 2 June 2014, http://t24.com.tr/haber/o-sey-mhpye-uymaz,259998

Translator’s note: This is the translation of an excerpt from an interview conducted with the former MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) Province Chairman for Istanbul, Abdurrahman Başkan. While the full interview covers multiple topics, we have chosen to translate only the part that pertains to LGBTI individuals.

Homosexual nationalists

Q: You might have seen the “Nationalist LGBTs” account on Twitter.

A: I prefer not to answer this question since I do not have much information on it.

Q: Upon being elected Province Chairman for Istanbul, you gave an interview to Hürriyet Daily where you said the following: “I try to meet with all sectors of society. I have conservative values but I can consider all kinds of opinions.” What prevents you now from doing so?

A: You are referring to people’s preferences. Everyone’s inclination is their own business. That is why I do not wish to comment on this.

“LGBT inclinations do not fit with our frame of mind”

Q: The editor in chief of Ortadoğu Daily recounted the following on 3 May, the day of Turkism: “It [the newspaper] does not have fuss and feathers; no wise men or models, nobody from Robert College or Saint Joseph High School, no gays, no jabber, no tabloid press. That is why only nationalists read it.”

A: What we say is that our conservative frame [of mind] is opposed to that thing you describe. We are saying that it does not suit our more conservative and traditional family structure.

Q: You abstain from even mentioning the word.

A: We say that this subject does not agree with our worldview.

Q: Are you saying that “there cannot be a nationalist who is gay” while homosexual nationalists are trying to make their voices heard on Twitter, albeit via nicknames?

A: I cannot give any comments on this question.

Q: Why not?

A: I have already explicitly replied to this. These kinds of inclinations do not agree with our general philosophy, the religion that we take as a basis of our nationalist, conservative structure.

Q: So what is your mission statement as a politician; what must homosexuals do?

A: Everyone in politics may be focused on attracting votes from various sectors. But we do not have any party activities that incorporate those who have such inclinations.

“They do not disappear when you ignore them”

Q: Therefore if the MHP were to win the elections, they would not have policies regarding homosexuals because they would only devise politics based on the sectors that vote for them. Is that correct?

A: I am only expressing my own opinions. But I can say that this is not an issue we spend much time on or something that we are open to.

Q: Mr. Başkan, if the CHP were elected and they said, “We are not open to Islam,” would you not consider yourself ostracized, as a Muslim?

A: But you are talking about Islam. Why are you conflating two issues that have nothing to do with each other?

Q: Society is made up of multiple components.

A: And so, are you about to ask me how I perceive pickpockets or some other people?

Q: Is your stance one that involves ignoring them?

A: They do not disappear when you ignore them. I said that we have no projects or pledges in this regard.