Kaos GL

Kaos GL: Human rights defender Ali Erol freed under judicial control!

Our co-founder and LGBTI rights defender Ali Erol was detained on Friday, Feb. 2 in his Ankara home where he lives with his partner on the grounds of his social media posts. Following his statement to the police and the prosecutor Tuesday, he was sent to the Criminal Court of Peace with a demand that he be put under judicial control. The Fifth Criminal Court of Peace ruled to free him under judicial control.

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We could not find the details of this detention and the ongoing investigation due to a confidentiality decision and this is a clear violation of freedom of thought and expression. The detention and investigation of Ali Erol due to his social media posts demanding peace following Ankara governor’s “ban on LGBTI events for an indefinite period” in November 2017 reveals once again the increase in obstacles and pressures against LGBTI rights.

This pressure, detention and investigations against human rights defenders shows how much we need human rights. We once again repeat that everyone needs human rights.

Each year, thousands of human rights defenders are trying to be silence through fabricated or ridiculous reasons that turn into lengthy, costly and mostly unjust judicial processes. The long struggle in the field of human rights shows us that the effect of silencing human rights defenders can be more unnerving and long-lasting than directly putting pressure on those groups. Silencing human rights defenders who work to initiate civil organizations with bravery, who speak up and who are respected through their bravery and work is a powerful tool. Trying to suppress the courage of human rights defenders is a common tactic by those violating rights. Because of this, protecting human rights defenders is a fundamental area of work for human rights organizations across the World today. Because fear is as contagious as courage and fear can only be beaten by standing with courage.

Kaos GL Association

Editor’s note: Judicial control in Turkey usually entails going to the police station periodically and a ban on traveling abroad. 

Kaos GL: Co-founder Ali Erol has been detained

LGBTI activist Ali Erol, a member of the initial team to begin publishing Kaos GL magazine in 1994 and one of the founders of Kaos GL, was detained in a police operation on the house he shares with his life partner Friday morning.

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While there was no clear information on the grounds for Ali Erol’s detention, the lawyers said his social media posts were included in the detention warrant. The detentions of many people in Ankara police operations due to social media posts has been reported.

Detained Ali Erol is a leading LGBTI activist in the world and was the recipient of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award in 2013.

The detention of Erol, a leading activist in the LGBTI movement, once again shows the point freedom of expression has come to in Turkey. Erol’s detention following Ankara governor’s “ban on LGBTI events for an indefinite period” in November 2017 reveals once again the increase in obstacles and pressures against LGBTI rights.

Our lawyers are following the judicial process. We will continue sharing as we learn details.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right. LGBTI rights are human rights. We demand that one of our founders, LGBTI activist Ali Erol be immediately released!

Kaos GL Association

Editor’s note: Hundreds of people have been detained on alleged terror propaganda charges on social media relating to Turkey’s cross-border operation on a Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria. The Turkish military and allied Syrian opposition forces are fighting the People’s Protection Units or YPG in Afrin. Turkey considers the YPG a terror group and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its own borders. The YPG is also a key ally of the United States in combatting the Islamic State group in Syria. Operation Olive Branch was launched on Jan. 20 and the Turkish government has cracked down on critical opinions of the military offensive. 

Kaos GL: Kaos GL and Pink Life Take the Governorship Ban to Court

Kaos GL and Pink Life filed a lawsuit against the ban announced by Governorship of Ankara, demanding the court to cancel the ban and halt the execution.

Source: Kaos GL, “Kaos GL ve Pembe Hayat Valilik yasağına dava açtı” http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25014 November 29, 2017.

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Kaos GL and Pink Life, LGBTI associations in Ankara, have filed a lawsuit against the governorship’s decision to ban LGBTI events for an indefinite period of time, with two separate demands from the court to cancel the ban and halt the execution.

These groups demand the decision of the governorship, which cited concerns of “social sensitivities and sensibilities”, “public security”, “protection of public health and morality” and “protection of others’ rights and liberties” as reasons to ban LGBTI activities, be cancelled. Kaos GL and Pink Life call for immediate halt of the execution of the ban decision and warn the ban will have irremediable consequences.

The attorneys of both associations evaluated the decision and the lawsuits against the decision:

“It harms the associations with every passing moment”

Att. Emrah Şahin, Pink Life: The “indefinite ban” of the Governorship of Ankara against the LGBTI_LGBTT Associations’ activities is not only against the International Conventions and constitutional rights but also against the local legislation provisions upon which the premises of the decision are built. Therefore, as the injured party of this ban we filed a lawsuit at Ankara Administrative Court. The execution of the ban should immediately be halted so as the end this deliberate violation of rights and a cancellation should follow. The fact that the ban is for an indefinite period of time causes the associations active in this field material and moral damages with every passing moment. Beyoğlu District Governorship unfortunately followed Governorship of Ankara’s line of conduct. Although these consecutive bans lead one to think that these decisions are political, we would like to think that these decisions do not stem from the policies of the state but rather from the faulty perspectives of the individuals. Therefore we hope that our rightful case will be won through domestic law without applying to ECHR or other international institutions and/or that the administration immediately gives up on this misguided approach and lifts the ban.

“An attack against the freedom of speech and right to organize of the LGBTIs”

Att. Kerem Dikmen, Kaos GL Association: Although the governorship decision does not formally seem like it bans the activities of the associations working for LGBTI rights, the consequences of the decision essentially ban these activities in their entirety.  In short: the governorship is telling associations that they can remain open and that it does not concern their legal entity status, but that they should not step out of their buildings and should not reach out to people other than their members and activists. One can ask whether the governorship has the jurisdiction to make such a decision under the state of emergency conditions, but under current circumstances the governorship can not assume such authority. On the question if governorship can make these decisions, we respond it should not have such authority. Our cause for alarm stems from the way governorship has passed comprehensive bans on the activities of LGBTI associations such as cinevision, screenings, theatre plays, panels and discussions for an indefinite period of time. What indefinite means is that there is no deadline for the ban. Surely this is a deliberate attack against the rights of the LGBTI individuals to organize as well as their freedom to express themselves in an organized manner. When all activities of an association are banned, it is a de facto banning of the association–which subsequently voids the constitutional right to form associations. It is important to note: the Turkish constitution does not even permit parliament to abolish the right to form associations through legislation, let alone through the governorship.

“We would like to believe that this inconsistency will be eliminated through judiciary process”

We should also clarify, there are no legal categorizes for LGBTT or LGBTI associations in Turkish law. However, “LGBTT_LGBTI” associations are the subject for the new decision. While civil society can coin such terms or categories, serious concern is raised when these terms are used by the state. Additionally, there can be no discriminatory consequences for organizations or their members because the association is LGBTT or LGBTI. We need to think of discrimination that exists not only on individual level but also on communal level. When you ban the right of the LGBTI and LGBTT community associations to organize and form peaceful assemblies, it is a discriminatory decision that also negatively affects individuals. As a result, we find this decision to be inconsistent within the administrative framework of the state of emergency and of state policy. As such, we would like to see this inconsistency eliminated through the judiciary process as soon as possible.

If this is the purpose [of the practice], it will not help weaken the LGBTI movement in Turkey. The civil society movement has reached a wide audience and will not be conformed to discriminatory regulations which seek to reduce the visibility of LGBTI or LGBTT associations. The only consequence of these bans would be to strengthen the resolve and solidarity among the LGBTI individuals and communities.

 

Kaos GL and Pink Life: Ankara governor’s ban on LGBTI events illegal

Source: “Kaos GL ve Pembe Hayat: Valilik kararı hukuka aykırı,” Nov. 19, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24994

We learned that the governor’s office of Ankara bannedfrom November 18, 2017 onwards, activities of LGBTT-LGBTI organizations such as film screenings, cinevision, theater plays, panels, talks, exhibitions which include certain social sensitivities and sensibilities” via its website.

We will follow legal proceedings on the governor’s illegal, discriminatory and arbitrary ban. There can be no legitimate or legal grounds for such a wholesale ban that touches the core of rights.  

In an omnibus ban with a very wide scope, we are facing a situation that is vague, open to interpretation and rights violations, criminalizing LGBTI existence. LGBTI civil society organizations are respectable institutions working for years to combat discrimination and hate crimes for equal citizenship. This ban, which goes beyond limiting the areas of activity of these institutions and making them inoperable, cannot be accepted in a democratic society.   

Ankara governor’s office’s grounds for the omnibus ban, including the phrases “protecting public health and morality,” “social sensibilities and sensitivities,” “public security” and “protection of other people’s rights and liberties” are clearly discriminatory. This decision legitimizes rights violations and discrimination against LGBTIs.

This decision and the illegal and vague grounds for it violate the very fundamental freedom of expression and association as well as other fundamental rights and freedoms. With this ban, fundamental rights have been interfered with in their essence.

Ankara governor’s office’s decision to ban violates our constitution’s Article 10 on equality and Article 26 on freedom to announce and disseminate thoughts, as well as international agreements Turkey is party to.  

With this announcement the civil administration is endangering public safety by turning LGBTIs and civil society organizations, who are an important part of the public, into targets instead of fulfilling its duty to ensure public security.  

We expect this decision to be rethought and withdrawn in the shortest amount of time. In our country where discrimination and hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity is rampant, it is the duty of national and local administrations to combat this discrimination and hate.

 

LGBTI activist Bulut Öncü lost his life in a traffic accident

LGBTI activist Bulut Öncü, who worked in the field of sexual health, lost his life in a traffic accident. Condolences to all of us.

Source: “Bulut Öncü trafik kazasında yaşamını kaybetti”, kaosgl.org, 20 February 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23098

LGBTI activist Bulut Öncü lost his life in a traffic accident this morning. Öncü was in a taxi in Istanbul when the accident happened.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in his hometown of Konya.

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He worked in the Community Volunteers Foundation, Y-Peer Turkey and UNFPA

Öncü was a volunteer reporter at KaosGL.org between 2010-2013. He also worked at the Community Volunteers Foundation, Y-Peer Turkey and the UN Population Fund. Öncü was working as an International Consultancy Expert (ICE) from Belgium as part of Sivil Düşün EU Program.

Öncü worked and volunteered in different fields of civil society but was known for his work in the field of sexual health.

Öncü was also a 3H Movement member.

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He was going to run in Runatolia

If the traffic accident hadn’t torn Bulut Öncü from his loved ones, he would have run in Antalya Runatolia Marathon on March 5 for Y-Peer Turkey:

I need your help to solve an important problem!

We are facing a problem that concerns us all: there is no sexual health education for different age groups in Turkey’s education system and Turkey has the youngest population in Europe! Only one in 10 youths have the right information regarding HIV and AIDS in Turkey and nine out of 10 youths do not know when they are fertile with the risk of pregnancy…

But there are youths who work day and night to solve this problem! I will run 10 kilometers on March 5, 2017 in Antalya Runatolia Marathon for Y-Peer Turkey, an association that opens the path for youth to gain life skills by increasing their knowledge on sexual and reproductive health.

My goal is to collect 7,200 TL through donations in order to fund sexual and reproductive health education for 36 youths. If I succeed, 36 youths will get the right information about sexual and reproductive health. Moreover, this will take place through peer education models and informal education techniques. These youths who will be educated in various topics including rights, growing up as a teen and development, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, risky behaviors and condom use, will share what they learn with their peers and the benefit of correct information will be multiplied.

It is our responsibility to support the visibility of youth’s messages, to be in solidarity with them and to realize the dream of a world where all youth can reach sexual health education. I wish for you to join this dream and wait for your support.

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Condolences!

As Kaos GL, we are experiencing the pain of losing our volunteer reporter, friend and comrade Bulut Öncü. We give our condolences to all his friends and loved ones. Rest in peace.

 

 

Which one of your houses will Hande Kader’s murderer come out of?

Men share your bed, your meal, your house after being with many trans sex workers like Hande Kader. While you keep believing that you are “cleaner”, “more innocent”, “more virtuous” than Hande Kader, the murderer lives in your house. Pray that they may be caught before they do one tenth of what they did to her, to you.

Source: Zeynep Akkuş, “Hande Kader’in katili hanginizin evinden çıkacak?”, kaosgl, August 17, 2016, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22102

It’s like I’m watching a horror movie. In its first scene, the car Hande Kader gets in disappears in the darkness of the night. Then everything gets blurry. The blur remains for a while. Next a flash lights up. New scene: Police gather around in a forest, they take away Hande Kader’s burnt body in a body bag.

I wish what I saw was really just a movie.

We had common friends but I didn’t know her. But then again, it turns out I saw her many times, unknowingly! She was one of our trans friends on those famous photos of last year’s Pride Walk on Istiklal Avenue, that they tried to cancel, on the first shot they are sitting against a water cannon, in the second one, they are soaked with pressurized water. The policemen that were taking her away last year, holding her arm harshly are now in the forest to take her burned body.

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When I heard that her corpse was burned, I found myself thinking, I hope she wasn’t burned to death, I hope she was burned after she was murdered, to get rid of the evidence. Please don’t condemn me. The current order, the current morality made us prefer one death over another. Remember the words of Ali İsmail’s mother, who was beaten to death during Gezi; “I wish they shot my Aliş, my son suffered so much” and please don’t condemn me.

I was only beginning to digest the story of how Figen was dragged to death, my eyes tearing up as I looked at photos I took in the march in the memory of Dora. My anger together with my pain rise up, as I writhe with the pain of who knows how many victims that shared similar horrible ends, worst of all, not knowing which of my friends, my sisters are next. Among those we lost, which one’s news could reach all? Whose murderer received the sentence they deserved? No one should fool themselves. We can believe in the sincerity of a struggle only if we see a murdered trans sex worker’s photo on the posters of a struggle against hate crimes. No one should feel safe either, no one should ask “why doesn’t it happen to me then?”. You can never know who the hate will strike. And hate has many excuses. Therefore, there are no “but”s in the struggle against hate. The victims can not be divided into “innocents” or “pure ones” against “the ones who had it coming”.

One last remark goes out to the women who remain silent on Hande Kader’s murder: I’m sure you would curse her for being a trans, for being a sex worker, you would despise her for selling her body, had you known about her when she was alive.

This is the main reason for your silence anyway, do not fool yourself nor us. But remember, sales is a two-way street. Anything that is sold is on sale as long as there is a buyer. Those that drag Hande Kader and other trans workers to this life, those that do not leave any other path and those who profit from this with an insatiable greed, are your men, your husbands, your brothers, your sons, your fathers, do not look elsewhere. (I don’t know if you are aware but you are as guilty as them, with your prejudice, your false convictions, your cliches of morality and dignity.)

Men share your bed, your meal, your house after being with many trans sex workers like Hande Kader. While you keep believing that you are “cleaner”, “more innocent”, “more virtuous” than Hande Kader, the murderer lives in your house. Pray that they may be caught before they do one tenth of what they did to her, to you. I’m waiting with curiosity, let’s see which of one of your houses will he come out of.

 

My Pride Story: Go On to Shout “We Are Queer, We Are Here, Get Used To It!”

Today in Pride Stories: This photograph, taken when we broke our friend taken into custody away from the police, actually shows where my story comes from.

Cüneyt Yılmaz’s Pride Story

I guess it was 2007. My friend Cihan, studying in Trabzon, wanted to stay in my house when he came to Istanbul for Pride. In brief, he came and stayed, Pride was a day later and I can remember his enthusiasm even today. When we were on the bus on the way to Taksim, he was champing at the bit and his heart almost stopped from excitement. Well, of course he was one of the most popular queers of the time and he used to write for Kaos GL periodically.

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I, on the other hand, used to be a ghetto-gay and live my queerness in my quiet life. We went to Taksim, Pride was about to start, I let Cihan reach that colorful, glowing crowd, and then I disappeared into the side streets of Taksim. I was watching the crowd from the side, I was changing my location with the fear of being seen, I was running away in order to avoid to run into someone familiar. The night of that day, based on my reviews, I planned to be open and visible, to join Pride even from the back or with either masks, glasses or other ornaments. However, I could not make it because of some reasons that I cannot even finish writing here.

Afterwords, my queerness got stronger year after year. Just then, I participated Pride 2012 vaingloriously, and with our increased visibility during the Gezi Occupation 2013, I proudly shouted ‘Don’t you dare to make me stop!’

I have never skipped a Pride until the first Pride that I attended in 2010. With the ‘call of dispersing’ last Sunday, we dispersed into every street of Taksim by waving our rainbow flag. The photograph, taken when we broke our friend, who was taken into custody, away from the police, actually shows where my story comes from.

For the sake of our friends who have been murdered, or committed suicide (which is another form of murder)… By becoming Ivana Hoffman, we will continue to fight against darkness, cruelty and homophobia, to live, to laugh, to make love, to kiss.

With our persistence and consistence of last year’s banned Pride, I consider it a duty to march in Trans Pride and Pride from beginning to the end.

We will continue to be in the very front, to be seen, to shout ‘we are queer, we are here, get used to it’ as police and government violence, homophobic and transphobic attacks, verbal harassments and physical abuses, trans murders and hate speeches continue, I will.

Stories multiply as they are shared. If you would like to tell your Pride story as well, send your writing of maximum 500 words to web@kaosgl.org, we will publish it on both Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey both in Turkish and English. Do not forget to include your name or nickname.