Gender identity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Assignment” to physical education from architecture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We were discussing whether architecture has gender or not”

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

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

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

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

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

32 Hate Crimes Directed at LGBTI People Appeared in the Press in 2015

According to Kaos GL’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Observation Report, in the year 2015 there were 5 hate crime-murders, 32 hate crimes, 2 cyber-attacks and 3 suicides appeared in the press.

Source: Kaos GL, “2015’te LGBTİ’lere yönelik 32 nefret saldırısı basına yansıdı!” (“32 Hate Crimes Directed at LGBTI People Reflected in the Press in 2015”), kaosgl.org, May 25 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21730

The Kaos GL Association has published its 2015 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Observation Report. The report, which the association has published regularly since 2006 to monitor the human rights violations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, contains striking conclusions about this past year.

5 hate crime-murders, 32 attacks!

General findings are listed in the introduction of the report as follows:

“2015 was a year in which bombs exploded, massacres occurred, systematic attacks were carried out against social groups at the government’s hand, surveillance and detentions were carried out, and the most basic right, the right to life, was not protected. From the perspective of LGBT rights, alongside positive developments it was a year in which generally the routine was not broken;

“Throughout the year of 2015, there were 5 hate crime murders, 32 hate crime attacks (with more than 15 committed by more than one person, 2 at the hands of the police, 12 with a sharp object, 2 with a firearm, and 1 with arson), 2 cyber-attacks, and 3 cases of suicide that were reported to the media;

3 instances of discrimination were reflected in the media. Of these instances, 2 occurred in prison and 1 occurred in the workplace. Out of 9 cases of hate speech, 4 were produced by political figures and 3 appeared in newspapers known to be close to the ruling government.”

Call for killing of LGBTI people

“The societal reflection of hate speech can be [a] hate crime. The attacks by police at the Pride March and ensuing instigation of hate at the hands of politicians turned into a call for murder. A group calling themselves the Young Islamic Defense hung posters on the streets of Ankara calling for the killing of LGBT people.”

Censorship for the internet

“Administrative measures were taken by Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı, or TIB) against 7 LGBT websites. Of these decisions, 1 was lifted by TIB after making its way into the press and another after being appealed to TİB. However, 5 sites still cannot be accessed. In 2 cases students were attacked because of LGBT banners and a rainbow flag at a university. Bafra Penitentiary denied prisoners access to Kaos GL publications on the grounds of its “obscene” content.”

“The police attacked the Pride March with plastic bullets, teargas, and water cannons; a number of people were injured.”

“The Constitutional Court identified the state’s official relationship format by using the expression ‘unnatural relation,’ in clear violation of the Constitution.”

The report only contains cases reflected in the media

While emphasizing that only cases reflected in the media were reported, problems experienced in the reporting process are outlined in the report as follows:

“The violations found in the report are cases reflected in the media only. For this reason this report does not display all of the human rights violations experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey

“We have presented this report as the 2015 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Violation Observation Report. However, our struggle continues in reaching the problems of gay and bisexual women and the discrimination and human rights violations suffered by transgender men.”

The report contains separate sections on ‘hate crimes and violations of the right to life,’ ‘discrimination and hate speech,’ ‘freedom of expression,’ and ‘lawsuits taking place and ending in 2015.’ Violations reflected in the media over the course of a year are listed.

What should be done?

The conclusion of the report lists the necessary steps for getting ahead of human rights violations as follows:

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals should be granted equal civil rights in the Constitution and “sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status”(CYCKİD) should be protected categories in the Constitution’s discrimination article
  • Adjustments should be made to the Turkey Human Rights and Equality Foundation Law to include protections for CYCKİD; the law should be rewritten to take into account Civil Society recommendations about the impartiality of the foundation
  • LGBTI people should be included in public social policy
  • Effective campaigns should be led against the homophobic and transphobic hate speech of politicians, public authorities, and opinion leaders
  • All relevant public institutions, especially the Directorate General of Migration Management, should develop sensitivity towards and policies related to the various problems of LGBTI refugees
  • The Turkey Human Rights and Equality Foundation and the Ombudsman Institution should handle all violations of human rights, democracy, and law that come under its jurisdiction with an approach based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Clauses on sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to articles regulating discrimination law in the judicial system
  • Regulation regarding hate crimes should be expanded to cover basic rights such as the right to life, bodily integrity, education, and shelter alongside hate speech, and clauses on CYCKİD should be included in hate crime regulation. The necessary punitive measures should be taken for hate crimes directed at LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) individuals; modifications in the law should be made to prevent reduced sentences for “grievous provocation” following hate crimes
  • Ambiguous phrases such as “general morality,” “public decency,” “obscenity,” “immodesty,” and “infamous crimes” used in the Turkish Republic Constitution, the Turkish Penal Code, Civil Code, Law of Misdemeanor and various other foundations and institutions should be taken out of regulation or readjusted in a way that cannot be interpreted as against LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) people.
  • Turkey should immediately take all necessary legal and political steps to fully comply with the 2010 Combating Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Recommendations from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which Turkey was a founding member
  • In the investigation and prosecution stages following rights violations such as hate crimes, discrimination, and police violence suffered by LGBTI people, precautions should be taken to eliminate the discriminatory and/or prejudiced attitudes of law enforcement officers and forensic units, which heighten the victims’ suffering
  • The classification of homosexuality and transsexualism in the Turkish Armed Forces Health Code as “sexual identity and behavior disorders” and practices suffered by homosexual, bisexual, or transgender individuals that damage their honor and dignity should be eliminated
  • The Turkish Armed Forces Discipline Code, which punishes homosexuality by stigmatizing it as an “unnatural relation” and leaves the homosexual officers in question to fall victim to discrimination in the workplace and lose their jobs, should change and homosexuality should no longer be considered a crime.
  • The government should regulate CYCKİD discrimination in work life. Regulations directed at LGBT workers should be made in job announcements, hiring, continued work relationships, and termination. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status should become protected categories under the discrimination article in the Labor Law
  • Societal and institutional educational programs to eliminate the rights violations experienced by LGBTI people in education, employment, and health in the public sector and private institutions, as well as in access to services, should be applied and followed as a positive obligation of the state.
  • On every subject relevant to human rights and especially when making changes related to the prevention of discrimination, opinions from the United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union, and related units should be taken into account. Human rights organization, organizations that work in the field of women’s human rights, and LGBTI organizations should work in collaboration to accomplish all of these endeavors.
  • Statistical studies to aid in bringing discrimination to light should be completed.
  • To ensure fair trials, human rights education based on homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination should be designed for law enforcement officers and members of the judicial branch. This education should be carried out in collaboration with civil society organizations.
  • Prison schemes should be designed with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity; an end should be put to isolation.
  • Pursuant to all of these endeavors, dialogue and collaboration should be established between LGBTI organizations and public establishments and Parliament.

Access report here [Turkish]

Brazilian Trans Inmate in Turkey: “I live like a dog”

Brazilian trans inmate’s cell protest in Maltepe prison: “I am victimized here and isolated.” 

Source: Damla Yur, “Köpek gibi yaşıyorum,” (“I live like a dog”), Cumhuriyet, 2 September 2015, http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/358213/_Kopek_gibi_yasiyorum_.html

There are 79 LGBTI individuals in prison according to the data collected by the Ministry of Justice. 71 of these individuals have been convicted of crimes and 8 are detainees. While LGBT individuals are held, respectively, in groups 9 or 3 in maximum and minimum penal institutions, in five prisons they are being held in single cells.  As subjects of isolated detainment, they are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse.  

LGBTI individuals who are foreign nationals struggle with similar problems in Turkish prisons. The victimization experienced in Maltepe Prison was documented in a letter sent to the LGBT in Prison Group organized under the umbrella of the NGO Civil Society in the Penal System.

The Brazilian trans inmate penned the victimization they endured in a letter dated August 27, 2015:

I am still in a cell, I cannot go to the ward. I went to the director but they told me there is no ward. We are held separately in individual cells. The cells are horrible, I cannot bear it. They are very dirty. They are holding us in cells. Maltepe No. 3 [prison] is not suitable for us, we need to go back to No. 1. I am victimized here and isolated. I would like to be with my Turkish gay friends. Still no response from the Ministry of Justice. Foreign men are free to do things. We, on the other hand, are kept in cells. Believe me, I live like a dog. No table, no television, no chair, nothing. I eat on the floor. My morale is gone. I do not know how much more I can bear this. It is very bad indeed. Even a dog would not be able to stay here. I am very distressed, I am dying.”

“Kaos GL is obscene, cannot be allowed in prisons”

At the same time, due to the recent increase in banned media in prisons, 21 NGOs penned a public statement titled, “Arbitrary bans on media in prisons must stop!” The statement noted that Leman, Uykusuz and Penguen were banned in Kandıra No.1 F type prison on account of being “objectionable,” Kaos GL journal was banned in Bafra T type closed prison because of its obscene content, and copies of Volçark, an edited volume that compiles the stories of LGBTI inmates, was rejected by the prisons they were sent to.

High turnout at the hate crimes panel in Mersin

Ismail Saymaz from the Radikal newspaper and Yıldız Tar from Kaos GL participated in the “Hate Crimes” panel, on “Hrant Dink and Zirve Publishing House Assassinations” and “Sexual Orientation- and Gender Identity-based Hate Crimes,” at Mersin University. The panel was moved to a larger lecture hall due to high turnout.

mersin-universitesi-nefret-suclari-paneli

Photo by Salih-i Umar

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Esmeray: “I want my ID card”

The judge’s faulty verdict…the Supreme Court approving it without examining it…The fact that Registration Office is not objecting.. The weight of all the irresponsibilities is on me again. Why should I file a lawsuit again? Who is to right this wrong?

Source: Esmeray [1], “Kimliğimi İstiyorum”,(“I want my ID card”), kaosgl.org, 4 February 2015, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18632

Sister, this state or this judiciary has given a ridiculous verdict to the lawsuit I filed related to identity change after gender reassignment surgery.

After gender reassignment surgery one makes a claim to the Registry Office. The petition abstract for the lawsuit goes like this: “The client has undergone gender reassignment surgery. It is requested that her name shall be changed and she should be transferred from the male section to the female section on her ID …etc.” The court asks for a report from you – they ask for the evidence. This was exactly how it was written on my petition and the requested reports were presented. The court has decided: “Only the name change to be done.”

ESMERAY

It is impossible to understand why the judge issued such a verdict. To lawyers objecting to the verdict, the judge said: “it is a written verdict, there is nothing we can do after this point.” The verdict was referred to a higher council, the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court did not object and approved the verdict. Sister, if we go for an appeal, it will take years. I didn’t want to go for an appeal. I don’t have time. They’ve been making me sweat for a piece of paper for years. As I wrote before, this appeal thing will at least take two years.

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Turkish MP Tanal’s press conference for Trans Day of Remembrance

Mahmut Tanal, MP from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), held a press conference for Trans Day of Remembrance on November 20th to commemorate the victims of transphobic hate crimes.

Buse Kılıckaya and Selin Berghan from Pink Life Association and Melahat Deniz and Murat Koylu from Kaos GL Association participated in the press conference organized by Tanal for Trans Day of Remembrance, commemorating trans people who have been victims of hate crimes.

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Trans woman prevented from entering the Turkish parliament: “If you have a blue ID, you are a man”

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Trans kadına Meclis engeli: Mavi kimliğin varsa erkeksin!“ (“Trans woman prevented from entering the Turkish parliament: ‘If you have a blue ID, you are a man’”), KaosGL, 19 September 2014, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17552

A trans woman was discriminated against this morning [September 19, 2014] prior to a press conference to be held by the CHP (Republican People’s Party) MP Aykan Erdemir at the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The woman who wished to attend the meeting concerning LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) rights was asked to go through security checkpoint designated for men on the grounds that she carried a blue identity card.

buse_kilickaya

Buse Kılıçkaya from the Pink Life Association spoke with KaosGL.org about the incident that occurred at the security check before the press meeting:

“I have been going to the Grand National Assembly to attend these civil rights meetings since 2000. This morning we went through the pre-search without a problem; at the second search, there was a security detector marked as “woman” and I naturally chose that one. There was a commotion as they were searching my bag. I sensed that the security officer felt the need to confer with their friends about a matter. Since I had entered through here before, I assumed that the issue had something to do with the materials we brought, but that was not the case.”

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