Istanbul

Governor bans pride parade at the last minute; police attacks participants

The announcement by the 23. Istanbul LGBTI Pride Committee in response to a last minute ban against the pride parade is as follows:

The 13th Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade scheduled to take place at 17:00 in Taksim has suddenly been banned by the Governorate, using the month of Ramadan as an excuse, without any announcement.

The police is attacking tens of thousands of people with pepper spray, plastic bullets and water cannons.

All entrances and exits to and from Taksim and Istiklal Street have been shut down.

We call on the Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin to adhere to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, to immediately cease the attacks, and to make a public statement.

All Pride Parade participants are urged to remain in place and not leave Beyoglu until the walk can be started as planned.

People who believe in a free world but could not make it to Taksim: we invite you to make some noise with pots & pans or whatever you find, wherever you are, at 6pm.

WE ARE HERE, GET USED TO IT, WE ARE NOT LEAVING!

Love wins!

#GelYanima #JoinUs

23. Istanbul LGBTI Pride Committee

THE CANDIDATES ARE SELECTED, NOW IT’S TIME FOR SELECTING THE COURSE OF POLITICS!

As general elections approach,  SPoD LGBTI representatives who have started the “LGBTI in Parliament” campaign for the active participation of LGBTIs in decision and policy making, have published a declaration inviting MP candidates, political parties and party leaders  to work together. Knocking on the doors of political parties one by one and demanding support for the participation of LGBTIs in politics, SPoD LGBTI representatives have announced that they will be following the candidate selection processes closely.

(more…)

No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point

Sedef Çakmak, advisor to the mayor of Beşiktaş, and Boysan Yakar, advisor to the mayor of Şişli, are the first openly gay people to advance to these positions. Yakar made news when he was physically assaulted at the municipal building: “No one can kick us, LGBTI individuals, out of the municipality at this point.”

Source: Aydil Durgun, “Bu saatten sonra kimse bizi belediyeden atamaz” (“No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point”). Milliyet.com.tr, 17 January 2015, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/-bu-saatten-sonra-kimse-bizi/pazar/haberdetay/18.01.2015/2000113/default.htm

Sedef Çakmak and Boysan Yakar have been involved in the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex) struggle for years. I crossed paths with them for the first time before the Pride March in 2013. In the same year, I met with Boysan again; this time through the LGBTI Political Representation and Participation Platform that they launched before the local elections. In the elections, they had already started seeing the benefits of the platform. Boysan was a candidate for nomination as a city councilor for the district of Şişli, and Sedef, for Beşiktaş. Boysan made it to the reserve list and Sedef seemed to have made it all the way to the council, but it fell through, and she currently remains as the first reserve candidate. Throughout this lengthy process, Hayri İnönü, the mayor of Şişli, and Murat Hazinedar, the mayor of Beşiktaş, must have been so pleased with their work that they appointed them as their advisors.

-bu-saatten-sonra-kimse-bizi-belediyeden-atamaz--5203553

Boysan and Sedef now hold the highest public office held by openly gay individuals in Turkey. This is a big achievement in a country like Turkey, and as they emphasize strongly, it is the result of a long fight for which they made big sacrifices.

I met with Boysan and Sedef to discuss what they have been doing since they assumed office. Boysan also talked for the first time about the physical assault he experienced at the municipal building.

It is clear why you would like to be in the political arena. But why did municipal governments and parties want to reach out to the LGBTI movement? Why now and not before?

Sedef Çakmak: Honestly, I believe that it has to do with our determination. We had been thinking genuinely that our party had to adopt LGBTI politics. To speak about CHP in particular, there have been a number of MPs in the recent past who advocated for LGBTI rights. They have paved the way for us. The party was able to think positively about LGBTI candidates thanks to the LGBTI discussions they introduced into the party’s agenda.

Boysan Yakar: There is something that both of us experienced. After our membership to the party went through, they told us about the displeasure of not having had dealt with this subject before.

Sedef Ç.: They said, “We should have come to you, not you to us.”

Boysan Y.: This is how politics works in Turkey: if you’re not there, your rights are not there either.

(more…)

Turkey’s first and only queer film festival to kick off for the 4th time

Pink Life QueerFest will kick off tomorrow in Ankara for the 4th time. Having started its journey in 2011, the first and only queer film festival in Turkey will also have a 3-day-long screening in Istanbul this year in collaboration with Baska Sinema.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Turkey’s first and only queer film festival to kick off for the 4th time”, kaosGL.org, 14 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=18497

Pink Life Queer Film Festival poster

Festival director Bilge Tas has a lot of experience organizing film festivals but she says organizing a queer film festival is much more difficult: “Because you cannot make use of state or local funds.”

However, Tas feels glad not to feel “the shadow of state” over the festival:

“The more support you get from the state, the more suitable it will be for your manners to speak from the mouth of state and to reflect what it says.”

Queer films will be shown in Ankara and Istanbul

Tas underlines the importance of international support for the festival:

“Our biggest supporters are the Embassy of United States and the Norwegian Embassy. They keep supporting the festival from the very beginning faithfully.”

The festival also enjoys a great deal of voluntary support, the most visible ones being  Hacettepe University’s Department of Translation and Interpreting with its film translation and Bilkent University students taking Media and Gender course with their “unofficial trailer”.

The official teaser of the festival which features famous actors Ayta Sozeri, Serra Yilmaz and Gonca Vuslateri increased the visibility for the 4th Pink Life Queer Fest on social media. The festival will also host some panels, theatre plays and workshops.

The 4th Pink Life Queer Fest will be held in Ankara between 15-22 January and in Istanbul between 23-25 January.

You can find the full program here.

Elif İnce: The Banned Pride Parade of ’93

The Pride parade and events planned in Beyoğlu in 1993 were banned by the governor’s office and dispersed by the police. Ilker Çakmak from the organizing committee talks about the police violence on Istiklal Avenue on that day, and about the events before the parade and its aftermath.

Source: Elif İnce, “93’ün Yasaklı Onur Yürüyüşü” (“The Banned Pride Parade of ‘93”), Bianet, December 8, 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/print/160555-93-un-yasakli-onur-yuruyusu

“We reached the Tunnel[1] almost crawling on the ground. We witnessed a group including foreign representatives being cuffed, dragged on the streets with skirts rolled up, and taken into custody.” (Ilker Çakmak)

The first Pride parade[2] and three day long program planned for July 2,1993 under the theme of “Sexual Freedom Events” were banned by the Istanbul governor’s office on the grounds that “they violate our traditions and customs, and the values of our society.” The police had broken down the doors of activists’ home, raided them the night before the parade, and blockaded Istiklal Avenue on the day of the parade. Those on the Avenue suspected of being gay were rounded up and detained while foreign participants were deported. Thus the first Pride parade would only take place ten years later in 2004 with a group of 40 people.

Ilker Çakmak, volunteer with the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association, was in the 1993 Parade’s organizing committee. Çakmak tells us about what transpired before and after the parade.

(more…)

A young gay Syrian’s story – from Syria to Turkey

This is the story of Maher, who had to escape and migrate from Syria to Lebanon, then to Sudan, and finally to Turkey. A life wrapped in the war in Syria and dual discrimination both as a Syrian and as a gay man in Turkey. 

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Suriye’den İstanbul’a eşcinsel bir gencin hikayesi” (“A young gay’s story from Syria to Turkey”). Kaos GL, 24 October 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17785

Millions of Syrians were forced out of their homeland as a result of the war in Syria and ISIS assaults. Some headed over to Europe; many lost their relatives during as their travels was well as the war.

Maher  Daoud, who we interviewed in a coffee shop in Kurtuluş, Istanbul, was  among the millions who had to leave their homeland. He had to leave Latakia in the 23rd year of his life which began in the city. Maher tells  the story of migration from Latakia [al-Lādhiqīyah]  to Lebanon, then to Sudan, and finally to Istanbul. He speaks fast, telling his story at once, as if someone were following us.

“Art is like breathing”

Maher,  who is now 24, is a young gay artist. He studied architecture in Syria.  However, he was forced to leave before being able to graduate. He also draws aquarelle and acrylic illustrations. Maher says that, in each of  his drawings, a gay story is hidden. To Maher, to make art is to breathe.  Because Syria does not have a “gay life,” art is the only space within which he can breathe.

I ask about the situation in Latakia. Maher says that life in Latakia is horrible:

“Latakia is Bashar al-Assad’s city. As such, the pressure was always intensive.  To speak, to do something was almost impossible. It was so in art too. I  had to put a lot of effort to be able to open my second art exhibit.  You have to get signatures from a lot of places. I had to deal with  almost every police officer in the police station. They examine each and every painting, find some to be “appropriate” and some “inappropriate.”  They kept asking why I was making such paintings. They were trying to judge whether I was against Bashar al-Assad.”

maherdaoud

Maher dislikes talking about politics. This also has to do with the notion that “it is a sin to speak politics in Syria.” He thinks that politics changes nothing. He desires more art.[1]

Things became even tougher with war. He says that the war between Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)  made things much more difficult in Syria. To Maher, the rebellion for “freedom” was initially beautiful. However, everything changed when Assad began the massacres and when those opposing Assad began using the same methods [sic].

(more…)

Two white lilies in the midst of blue: Ekin and Emrullah

Source: Emre Korlu, “Maviliğin içinde iki beyaz lale: Ekin ile Emrullah” (“Two white lilies in the midst of blue: Ekin and Emrullah”) Kaos GL, 23 September 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17571

[Click here for an update on this news item.]

This is the story of a gay couple who recently wed in Istanbul in an alternative ceremony not officially recognized by the government: Confronted with a heterosexist system, we did not stay in the closet.

Ekin-Emrullah-Wedding

In their white tuxedos, they go well with blue. With a terrific smile on their faces, they could paint this country with dreams if you let them. Now you will read about it. It is not one of my stories; it’s a story of love.

On 2 September 2014, Ekin Keser and Emrullah Tüzün crowned their life together with a wedding. What made their wedding different from others is the fact that they are a gay couple.

(more…)