LGBT rights in Turkey

Pride Committee: “We will be on the streets on Sunday to demand justice for Hande Kader and to stop hate crimes”

We feel great anger: our beloved friend Hande Kader was burned to death. The burned body of 23 years old trans woman Hande Kader was found in Zekeriyaköy almost a week ago. Hande was a person who raised her voice against hate crimes and encouraged everyone to raise their voices too.

We are constantly shouting at LGBTI+ Prides, Trans Prides and other protests that homophobic and transphobic statements are leading to hate crimes, murderers often escape unpunished, and hate crime laws are urgent. Unfortunately, our Prides have been banned in the last two years, yet we need to be seen, to be on the streets and to shout our demands in order to end hate crimes.

According to a Transgender Europe report, Turkey is the first in Europe and ninth in the world in trans murders. Trans women are forced to be sex workers and then they are labeled (as prostitutes) because of their jobs. We wish a world without homophobia, transphobia or ‘prostitute-phobia’.

Münevver, Özgecan, Wisam, Hande… We demand justice for all that lost their lives for being a woman, a trans or a gay. We are aware that the people who burned Hande to death got their strength from those who burned people alive in Maraş, Madımak, Cizre. We are repeating once again that the only way to stop hate crimes is to raise our voice together against hatred and hate crimes.

We are inviting every individual from this society to our march from Tünel to Galatasaray where we will demand justice for Hande Kader on Sunday, 21 August, 7 PM.

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

Video of detentions during Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride

[00:00:05] Police: Take this one!

[00:00:06] LGBTI+ Activist: It’s our natural right to read our press statement!

[00:00:07] Police: Disperse! Disperse!

[00:00:10] LGBTI+ Activist: It’s our natural right! // Police: Take this one!

[00:00:12] LGBTI+ Activist: Let us speak for once!

[00:00:15] LGBTI+ Activist: Wait a second! Wait a moment!

[00:00:17] Police: Disperse! // His supposed natural right!

[00:00:19] Police: Take this one!

[00:00:24] Police: His supposed natural right!

[00:00:25] Police: Take this one too! Take this one too!

[00:00:27] LGBTI+ Activist: No!

[00:00:33] Police: You’re banned brother, everyone go home!

[00:00:36] Police: Get out! Disperse!

[00:00:42] Police: His supposed right!

[00:00:47] Police: Come on move! // LGBTI+ Activist: Just a second!

[00:00:48] Police: Come on!

[00:00:51] Police: Go on, disperse!

[00:00:51] Police: Take this one too!

[00:00:53] Police: Take those too!

[00:00:55] Police: Disperse! / Walk! What are you waiting for?

[00:00:58] Police: What are you waiting for!

[00:00:59] Police: Disperse folks, disperse!

[00:01:03] Police: Okay, alright! // Walk already!

[00:01:08] Police: Come on brother!

[00:01:09] International guest: Wait, wait wait! (Showing his ID)

[00:01:11] LGBTI+ Activist: One moment! One moment!

[00:01:18] Police: Get out!

[00:01:29] MEP Terry Reintke: He’s with me! He’s with me!

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee Statement: We are Dispersing!

Last year, police attacked Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March and this year, the Istanbul Governor’s Office has banned it in its 14th year. Trans Pride March, realized in safety in 2015, was stopped by the police after the ban this year.

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Due to these developments, as the 24th LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we submitted an application to the Istanbul Governor’s Office to hold a press statement on 26 June at 17:00 in Tünel Square. However, we received the response that it was “not approved”. The Governor’s Office has chosen to violate the “Law on Meetings and Demonstration Marches” guaranteed by the Constitution as a democratic right instead of protecting us against the threats that it has put forth as grounds for the ban.

We are announcing, with sadness, that we will not be able to hold the 14th Pride March. But our confidence in ourselves, our horizon, and our dreams are much bigger than a march, Istiklal Avenue, this city, and this country.  Our fight for existence goes beyond yesterday, today, and the future because we were here, we are here, and we will be here.

Our popular Pride Marches, held for 12 years with great joy, are a space where we celebrate our existence, our persistence to live a proud life, and our exponentially growing organized movement. They influence not only LGBTI+ individuals’ lives but everyone. Pride March allows humanity to dream: If this world were different, what kind of people would we be? What would we wear, desire, do, say? What would the streets of this city look like? If we organized with love, what could tear us apart from each other? If we held our bodies, work, and future in our own hands, what would happen? The ban on Pride March is an effort not only to stop us from leading dignified lives but also to stop us from dreaming of this world.

Police forces have told the people attempting to read a press statement during Trans Pride March to voice their legal and political demands: “Please disperse and allow life to go back to its normal course”. We are obeying this call: On Sunday, 26 June we will disperse to every single corner of Istiklal Avenue, we are reuniting with each other on every street and avenue in Beyoğlu. Instead of living a life that is imposed on, a life that normalizes violence, oppression, and denial; we are living the life we chose, the life in which we exist with pride and honor and we are “Letting life go back to its ‘normal’ course” by:

DISPERSING, DISPERSING, DISPERSING

Source: https://www.facebook.com/prideistanbul/posts/928571397270474

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee Files Criminal Complaint Against Hate Speech Groups and Applies to Overturn Governor’s Ban on Pride March

Dear Members of the Press,

On June 20, at Çağlayan Courthouse at 11:00, we filed a criminal complaint against groups such as Muslim Anatolian Youth, Alperen Hearths Foundation, Tembihname, Özgür-Der, and the Greater Union Party (BBP) for their hate speech and threatening statements that targeted us. Since we do not have a legal personality as the Pride Week Committee, we filed the complaint as individual members of the committee and the Lambdaistanbul Association.

Lawyer and activist Levent Pişkin spoke on behalf of the Pride Week Committee and stated:

“We think that prosecutors, especially press prosecutors, should start an investigation on the matter on its own initiative as there is more than one type of crime. The declarations include offenses such as targeting LGBTI+s, instigating crime, discrimination, instigating the public to rage and animosity, insult and obstruction of democratic rights. The governorate’s ban against the march, using these threats as an excuse, is not only against European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence and international conventions but also national laws and the the constitution. We will file the criminal complaint and follow up. We will continue our struggle and stand up for our rights against those who target the LGBTI+s, deem them deserving of death and instigate hate.

Against the decision of the governorate, we will open a lawsuit today (June 20) at the Administrative Court with an urgent request demanding a stay in the execution of the decision of banning next week’s march. We hope that there will be a verdict to stop the execution without further ado. There are similar cases in ECtHR cases regarding Georgia and Russia. There were also threats by certain faith groups against the LGBTI+, governorate bans against marches in these cases, and police attacks against LGBTI+s, which we have also attached these cases on our complaint.”

Anyone who wishes to can sign the complaint and submit it to the prosecutor’s offices.

Last week, Istanbul LGBTI Association and Human Rights Association filed another criminal complaint against these groups.

You can find the criminal complaint below.

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My Pride Story: Istiklal has never been so beautiful

Today in Pride stories: Friends calling to ask “are you ok”, my brother calling to ask “what are you doing with those fags” (!)

Cihan’s Pride story

When I read Hakan’s Pride story in the middle of the night, I said to myself “Yes, I have to share mine as well”.

Last year’s Pride March was my first Pride as well. In the previous years I was mostly held back by my make-up exams – I’m not lazy, studying medicine is hard work- and more importantly visibility was a problem for me. I was thinking that I would be somehow visible among the tens of thousands of people and not having an Istanbulite koli [1] to stay with and being poor had impacts as well.

(more…)

Far-right Alperen Group Says It will Stop Pride No Matter What

The Alperen Hearths are a far-right ultranationalist and Islamist youth group linked to the nationalist Great Union Party (BBP). On Wednesday, the Alperens made a press statement on Trans and LGBTI Pride Marches and said “We will never, ever allow their immorality”. The full translation of their press statement is below.  

Source: http://m.haberler.com/alperen-ocaklari-baskani-mican-lgbt-onur-8528393-haberi/

As you know, the nature of the marches LGBT are planning to hold in Taksim on 19 and 26 June are contradictory to our nation’s national and moral structure and traditions. We will never, ever allow such Immorality, like this march that is called “honor” but really it is immoral, that touch the nation’s nerves, to be normalized or encouraged. 

We warn those who use the names Recep, Şaban, and Ramadan, the months we accept as holy, and try to be funny: they should not shed their clothes to shamelessness with saying things about our nation’s sensitivities with such fantasies. I’ll remind you this quote from Ziya Pasha for those who make fun of our moral values and surpass boundaries: “Those who do not settle down with advice should be scolded, those who do not settle down with scolding and advice should be beaten”.

Viewing the organization of this march as tolerance should not lead to social corruption and moral collapse with the creation of new genders using alternatives letters for our daughters and sons. This is not a reaction to anyone’s personal life or personal crimes. Ordering good is to abolish the bad.

State officials who allow this immorality and daring, who give way, who close their eyes and ears, we invite you to serve to end this immorality. Otherwise, we Alperens, the deep nation’s representatives, will not allow these immoral people’s fantasies in these lands left to us by our ancestors who paid a heavy price. Otherwise, our response will be very clear and harsh. We are announcing this to the public. And we are calling on all our brothers and sisters in religion. We will meet in Taksim Square on Sunday 16 June [sic] at 15:00 and Sunday 26 June at 15:00. We will never, ever allow their immorality.

They keep doing the same thing on this holy month and make fun of us by completely discounting our values. With God’s permission, we will not allow this. We invite you to Taksim Square to say “stop” to this immorality together. We will directly stop the march. We will face up to anything. There is nothing to do here. We will somehow not allow them to march. They can meet somewhere and do whatever they want but on this holy month of Ramadan, on this holy day, we absolutely do not want them to march with no clothes on, naked, on our country’s holy lands. That’s why we will not allow them. In a country where 99% of our people is Muslim, it is absolutely not possible for us to allow such vileness and immorality.

Our state should be saying “stop” this by considering our national values. Because this is not normal. This freedom is not a normal freedom. What they want is not a normal freedom. This is the Republic of Turkey. Our holy ancestors left us these lands for safe custody. We, especially the Alperen youth, will not allow people to walk without dresses, without tops in these lands.

We have made a press statement now. We are giving a warning. We have told the public. We have announced it ahead of time. We are not responsible for whatever that happens after this because the state needs to consider and take seriously that its people are 99% Muslim, its religion is Islam, and its national values. If the state ignores this and says “yes, go”, on a day of Ramadan, and allow 5000 people to march naked with whiskey, champagne, alcohol in their hands, then we will not allow it. Either the state will do what is necessary or the Alperens will.

Update, 16 June 2016

Spokesperson Küşat Mican spoke on RS FM’s “Bidebunudinle” program and made the following comments:

Source: Kaos GL, “Alperenler: “Biz Taksim’de sopalarla kovalayalım demedik”,” 16 June 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21877

We warned this group before, we warned the friends, we sent representatives. We are a Muslim Turkish nation, 99% of our people are Muslim. Yes, we need to live with tolerance but this march cannot take place by ignoring our religious values and ignoring us. We don’t want them to walk half-naked, with bottles of alcohol, in this holy city that has been watered by the blood of our ancestors. It looks like this is going out of the bounds of law but don’t perceive it as such. When we reminded them of Ziya Pasha’s words, it was not a threat. We are saying we will be there, we will react, and we will not allow them to walk. If they are ten thousand people, we will be ten thousand people, we will close that corridor, we will have a sit-in, we won’t let them walk. If they react to us, we will react to them. I did not say let’s go to Taksim and kick them out with sticks. One should not perceive this sentence as carrying sticks in our hands but as a reaction.

Update, 18 June 2016

BBP leader Mustafa Destici: “Perversion and immorality can not be called freedom.”

Source:BBP lideri Mustafa Destici: Sapık LGBTİ’ler benim ülkemde yürüyüş yapamaz!”, June 17, 2016, T24, http://t24.com.tr/haber/bbp-lideri-mustafa-destici-sapik-lgbtiler-benim-ulkemde-yuruyus-yapamaz,345724

Mustafa Destici, the chairman of the BBP (Grand Unity Party) stood by the Alperen Hearths, which announced that they would not let the 14th Pride March take place. In the speech he gave at the iftar, or fast-breaking dinner of his party in Duzce on 16 June, he stated:

Anything immoral gets by in our society during the month of Ramadan and these are represented as legitimate. In the capital of Islam, Istanbul an immoral group that we cannot accept according to our traditions and beliefs, makes a program that goes on for weeks. And they even go further as to crown it with a march. Our young friends, Alperens, say it’s wrong. They say “Those who govern the country should not allow this”, and then there is a huge outrage. Yes brother, this is Turkey, this is a Muslim country. I address the state and the government. You asked for votes claiming that you are conservative and religious, and came to power as such. If you let that march take place, you will be betraying your voters. Let’s see if you commit this betrayal or not. Perversion and immorality cannot be called freedom. This has nothing to do with personal liberties and rights. This cannot be accepted as such. My morality and Western morality are not the same. My belief and Western beliefs are not the same. We won’t stand by and watch this. We will show our rightful reaction. Of course this reaction is verbal, it is [a] protest. We have always been against violence. If there is a price for it, we will pay. They should go do the march somewhere else, they can’t do it in my country.  My country can’t be represented as a country of perverts.

 

My pride story: I’m here and resisting, my love!

Until the earth becomes the face of love: “I’m here and resisting, my love!” [1]

toma

Hakan’s Pride Story

As a lubunya [2] from Ankara who came out 3 years ago, 2015 Istanbul LGBTI Pride March was my first pride march. When I was a student I could not join because I had no money and later on because I had to work on weekends.

Can someone be assaulted in their first ever Pride March? Apparently, yes, one can.

On Friday, I left for Istanbul from Ankara on the high speed train. I felt both the excitement of Pride and the pride to be finally able to go to Pride. I had previously marched in my own city on May 17 [IDAHOT] and it was the time when I felt the dynamism of the LGBT movement intensely. I was fighting, I was transforming.

After I got off the train, my lover and his flatmate picked me up from Pendik. Yes, Pendik. You love the people picking you up even more, when they travel all that distance to Pendik. Then we caught up on all the fun of Pride Week. That same night we enjoyed ourselves in Tünel, we drank and danced. On Saturday we went to the picnic at Maçka and met lots of beautiful people there. We fell in jugs of beer on Mis Street, partied again, had fun again and kissed on the streets!

Resist Pride March!

Then that day arrived. On the morning of the march we had our breakfast and went to Taksim around 15:30. I shared the video “Mahsun, take me to Taksim” from the film “Tabutta Rövaşata” that morning. Because “I had to go” to Taksim. We saw the tension and the police check points. We considered the possibility for an assault. But we still entered Taksim with Hasan, holding hands. Although that day was the Pride March, those who saw us hand in hand looked twice at us. I thought to myself, “Visibility is a must in our heteronormative society”.

That’s when the resistance started. We could not go up to Taksim from the side streets. We had to drop our lollipop banners and get out. As soon as we got out, a TOMA [3] came from the direction of Taksim and cornered us on Mis Street with high pressure water. We got gassed on Mis Street. We first took refuge in nearby establishments. I can tell you the spirit of Mis Street was glorious. We were together with those who stood against the TOMAs and who resisted for hours.

hakanhasan

We got gassed, resisted and stood against our assailants together. But I cannot deny that the most significant and the most romantic moments were when my lover sprayed Talcid [4] on my face as I got gassed. When it is so difficult even to come out, to come to a point where you can resist against the system and the assault with your lover on your side, it is a memory that makes me shiver to this day. It feels extremely good when you have someone worrying for you as you resist and when you both try to save each other from harm against the police.

Even though we ended our relationship two months after our resistance together, Hasan remains my biggest comrade in the path of resistance I have taken.

Until the Earth becomes the face of love: “I’m here and resisting, my love!”

Click here for the original Turkish version of this story on our project partner KaosGL.org.

Stories grow as we share. If you want to tell your Pride story, send your maximum 500 word story to web@kaosgl.org and we’ll publish it in Turkish and English on Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey. Don’t forget to add your name or pseudonym!

 

[1] A popular chant in Pride Istanbul goes: “Where are you my love? I’m here my love!”

[2] Lubunya refers to a gay or trans person in Lubunca, the LGBT slang spoken in Turkey.

[3] Intervention Vehicle to Social Events is the infamous water cannon vehicle used by the Turkish police.

[4] The lozenges used for stomach problems, they are also used for their anti-acid effect against the teargas.