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.

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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.

 

 

Despite the Governorate’s Ban, Izmir Holds Pride March

Standing up to Izmir Governorate’s ban, people who stand against homophobia and transphobia marched from Kıbrıs Sehitleri to Kordon in Izmir, protesting the ban.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Valilik yasağına inat İzmir’de Onur Yürüyüşü”, 4 June 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21800

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The Izmir Governor’s decision to ban Izmir Pride March on the grounds that it “received intelligence that there may be propaganda for terrorist organization” was protested. [Organized over social media] anti-homophobia and transphobia crowds met at 19:00 at Alsancak Kıbrıs Sehitleri Avenue to Kordon seaside.

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Police set up barricades against the anti-homophobia and transphobia crowds holding rainbow flags. Police announced “disperse” and the crowd shouted “homophobic state, we’ll topple you of course”. After a short wait, the marchers headed the opposite direction towards Kordon seaside.

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More than one hundred people marched and chanted “Love, love, freedom; keep hate far”, “Tayyip run run run, the fags are coming”, “Don’t be silent, shout, there are gays”. They screamed against homophobia and transphobia. They condemned the homophobic ban of the Izmir Governorate.

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During the march, there was a sit-in at the shore. Izmir residents were invited to the press conference to be held on 6 June at 11:00 in Konak City Council to condemn the ban on Izmir Pride.

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The demonstration to protest the Governorate’s ban using “terror” as its basis found support from businesses around Alsancak and people in the area.

My Pride Story: We carry flowers in our mouths!

We carry flowers in our mouths. Flowers that you will never be able to wither.

Orkoninya’s Pride Story

I had the chance to join the pride march on June 2015 for the first time in my life. Everything was planned weeks before the march and we departed Ankara with my boyfriend at the time and two other friends.

I remember shouting suddenly while listening to Bandista’s  “Aşk Şarkısı (Love Song) in the car:

“Look at that, a rainbow!” A giant, colorful parabola was greeting us. After seeing so many rainbows on our way, we realized that love was on our side, this day was our day.

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The night we arrived in Istanbul, my excitement did not let me sleep. As thousands of people, we were going to shout, unite and paint Istiklal Avenue into the colors of the rainbow that we are. But the next day I could smell the tension in the air as we arrived on Istiklal Avenue. Hundreds of police officers were mocking us on every corner, turning their despising stares on us. Once more, it did not take them too long to target us with their barrels, filled with plastic hate. We ran away from TOMAs* spraying hatred and homophobia on us, some of our friends got hit, people were rushing about, covered in blood. We took refuge in a shop, the shutters were drawn and we started to wait. As everyone started to cough out the pepper spray, I remembered the gas chambers. We waited, we waited, we waited… I was struggling with a disease called panic attack back then. I was panting for breath, my eyes started to black out and I sat on the floor, coughing. I did not have the power to go on anyway. We went back home…

I had great dreams of this march, but it didn’t happen. I was happy anyway. There were so many of me there that day, they all filled me with hope. And the rainbow I mentioned, gave us such a salute that I realized our colors were plastic bullet-proof. As Mabel Matiz says in a song, we carry flowers in our mouths, and these are flowers that you can never wither away. We shall open our mouths for you to see, try to take a whiff. You will feel love. Love…
*Intervention Vehicle to Social Events is the infamous water cannon vehicle used by the Turkish police.

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!

 

 

To Amnesty International: Hate is not a Choice, it’s a Crime

Source: Tuna Erdem, “Nefret tercih değil suç olsun/bana haklarımı ver sevgin senin olsun #kaplumbağaları bizim meselelere karıştırmayın, almayın ve satmayın,” “Hate should not be a choice but a crime / give me back my rights and you can have your love do not involve #turtles in our issues, do not buy and sell them,” 20 April 2016, http://sloganbozan.blogspot.com.tr/2016/04/nefret-tercih-degil-suc-olsunbana.html?spref=fb&m=1

The slogan I will undo shows up at the end of Amnesty International’s video “Gay Turtle.” As I pick the slogan to pieces, I will occasionally write about the video as well but it is not the video but rather the slogan that defines the scope of this text:

 
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First, let’s begin with the slogan “hate is a choice.”

There is a crime called “hate crime.” Indeed, before this slogan appears in the video, the statement “in the last 5 years, hundreds of hate crimes due to homophobia and transphobia have been committed” indicates, albeit in an ambiguous fashion, that there is a crime called “hate crime.” Since 2014, hate crime has been included in the Turkish Penal Code and the work of LGBTI organizations have a significant role in its inclusion. However, in spite of this achievement, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are not included within the scope of the hate crime law and at the moment hate is not a crime when directed at LGBTIs. In other words, the Turkish Penal Code has left it to individuals to choose to hate gay and trans individuals, just as this slogan suggests.

However, not only many countries do not give its citizens the right to choose to hate but also LGBTIs in Turkey have been arguing that hate is a crime and should be seen as a crime, and they continue to work for this a fact that Amnesty International cannot possibly be unaware of. From the perspective that posits hate to be seen as a crime, this slogan sounds exactly like what the statements “rape is a choice,” “murder is a choice”  sound like. Indeed, this slogan appears right after a sentence that gives hate crime statistics, therefore connecting the hate directly to the crime on its own, amplifying said tone. Just as saying “murder is a choice, do not choose to murder, change your choices” would be taking things lightly, the same goes for hate. If you write down the number of people killed by hate-motivated murders and then immediately say “hate is a choice,” you are basically saying “hate-motivated murder is a choice.” Briefly, a preferable slogan at most could be:

Hate is not a choice, it’s a crime.

On the other hand, hate is not a choice because there is no alternative to hate in the system, especially towards gay and trans individuals. The heteronormative order is the name of the order that does not give the choice or the right to choose anything other than hate. So much so that gays themselves hardly find a path other than hating themselves. Hating homosexuals is something that is inculcated from birth, taught, imposed. To say “there is a heteronormative order” is exactly this: People are constantly brainwashed in a systematic way, using every possible tool of the sovereign culture. The family, education and training curriculum, peer victimization and pressure teach and forcibly impose hate; hate is engraved in memory. Hate is constantly channelled on TV, in advertisements, in films, in media.

This is precisely why the target audience of the video can only be those who will rightfully feel proud to have made the right choice and carry the avarice of superiority. I do not think the target audience includes gays who have begun combatting the hate within or who continue to combat the hate within the nearest people to them. Rather, the video caters to those who believe that not remaining “ignorant” is fully a “choice,” who are blind to the fact that education is a privilege in the world, and who see the world wearing blinkers and say “noooo waaaaay.” In fact, if anyone could escape the sovereign culture’s education and be “ignorant,” hate would not be this widespread.

In the best-case scenario, the video invites the audience to belittle and to ridicule homophobes. (And of course, also to take pity on the cute turtle and to get all emotional through empathy.) Indeed, there are self-assured trolls in social media, who ask why this video is being taken so seriously, when it should have been laughed at. Such approaches pass over the fact that ridicule and belittling are the very tools of homophobia and it does not register that belittling homophobes belittles homophobia, a phenomenon with dire consequences. I would not step inside a pet shop (in my opinion, pet shops are another phenomena that should be considered a crime) but if I were told that the turtle I “chose” was gay, I would think that the clerk noticed that I’m gay and was saying this ridiculous thing to mock me, and I would storm out. So, you can add me to your so-called “social experiment,” as a homophobe to be ridiculed.

All in all, presenting systematic problems as individual choices can only warrant the continuity of the system that lies beneath. Mistaking the teachings of the hegemonic culture for “ignorance,” is flaring up the flames of the hegemon. Briefly: hate is not an individual choice, but the enforcement of the system. To belittle others’ hate in order to ignore the hate that lies within you, is a way of hate itself.  You cannot struggle by hating. The issue should not be to replace one type of hate for another.

Then there is this: The slogan “hate is a choice” is there to evoke another slogan. The most famous slogan of the LGBTI movement is “orientation, not choice.” So the slogan says, “homosexuality is not a choice, but it is a choice to hate homosexuals.” So it says, “you are born gay and you cannot change it, but hate is not congenital so just change it.” I can’t get enough of undoing the slogan “orientation, not choice” but I’m leaving that for another post, to give it the undoing it deserves. Without going deeper into my position on the matter, which is even more narrow-minded than the “even if it were a choice” position, I will point to a relevant aspect. There is no doubt that it is the belief that “if it is a choice, it can be changed easily” which brought the word “choice” to the point of becoming a signifier of homophobia. One feels like saying, I wish that change was so easy to have in life. Yet those who adopted the slogan “hate is a choice” obviously think that the problem goes away once you understand that it is a choice. You would think that knowing there can be change warrants change. That’s why a prominent organization could not come up with a better choice than to state the obvious, did not think it should introduce a proposal on the matter of “how to change hate.” Oh, actually they do, our video says “love instead of hating,” which brings us back to the first sentence of the slogan:

“Love comes from the heart”

Seriously, what does that even mean? Does it mean you love if you have a heart? Does it mean love is automatic like breathing? Does it mean love is natural and if you do not strain yourself, you will love anyway? You do not need the brain, the mind, consciousness, work; the heart produces love by itself? Does it mean that every living thing with a heart loves anyway? It’s up to you to decide how you want to understand it. Epic words about love is plentiful, just add on to them. Love is unconditional, let love win, etc. But the love the video presents is not unconditional. The turtles who are sold in the slave market, who are contained in a cell, are at best given love according to their cuteness. The price of love is to not be free, to be treated like property, to live and die for someone else’s enjoyment. If that’s the love, then hate could indeed be chosen.

Let’s agree on this: no one has to love gays. Gays do not expect love either. Gays are demanding their rights and that is why they say hate crime. But when you first say love comes from the heart and then say hate is a choice, you present hate as purely an emotion. If you are looking for a word outside of the terminology of rights and law, then gays are expecting respect, not love. Respect is not a choice, for example, in the face of laws and court decisions, no one has the right to say “I do not respect this.”

But there is also a difference between “love comes from the heart” and the sentence presented as the English version of the slogan. “Love is love” would be correctly translated into Turkish as “romantic love is romantic love” [literally “aşk aşktır” –Trans.]. That sentence is the slogan for gay rights, especially marriage equality. The slogan would mean “love is not gay or straight, love is love” and it would be about what remains in your head as it is tautological. And again we come upon a slogan that I cannot get enough of undoing. Though homosexuality can allow us to realize the many different kinds of love in the slogan “love is love,” the slogan instead becomes evidence for the transformation of romantic love into a single, unitary state. One language, one flag, one nation, one homeland, one love.

Sure there is also this: Do not see homosexuality as a sexual issue because love is love! Because sex is bad and it can only be cleansed with an epic love. Because it is unacceptable to defend sex without love but do not be scared, gays, who are in a position to notice the difference, will pretend that there is no sex without love, just like you. I want to say: No way! No, sex is not an evil that will be extolled with love, in need of taming with marriage, or otherwise lead to destruction. And gays do not have to go voluntarily into the prison of “no sex without love” just because they do not want you to hate them.

But the same sentence in Turkish does not say romantic love but love like endearment and therefore gets stuck early on before even getting to the issue. The Turkish version turns out not to be about the romantic love that gays feel for each other but about the love, the endearment felt towards gays: Let’s love animals, let’s love gays, let’s love our beautiful Turkish, let’s love our flag, let’s love our homeland.

Do not love me and do not hate me. I do not even know you, why should we have an emotional relationship? Can I not be your pet or a harmful creature? May I not be yours and only be mine and be independent? If possible, give the right to life to a difference that has nothing to do with you. Let’s create a respectful distance between ourselves and keep that distance.

Your love is as aggressive as your hate. Your stance against homophobia is as hurtful as homophobes.  

Now slowly release the turtle you are holding back into wild and leave before you make me love you too much.

Transphobic Murder in Çorlu

In Çorlu, offender F.T. stabbed and killed Aleda, a trans sex worker with whom he engaged in a fight. F.T. admitted the murder in the cab he took.

Source: “Çorlu’da Transfobik Nefret Cinayeti” (“Transphobic Murder in Çorlu”), Pembe Hayat, 20 March 2016, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1032#.Vu7WLKVvJdk

The transphobic murderer and Aleda started fighting in Aleda’s home for mysterious reasons. Subsequently, he stabbed Aleda and fled the crime scene. He then took a cab, with his clothes covered in blood, and told the driver he killed someone. The driver called the cops as soon as he dropped off F.T. Police found Aleda’s dead body at the address provided by the driver. Aleda’s body was taken to Çorlu State Hospital morgue for autopsy.

Security forces found the murderer F.T. in his home and detained him approximately an hour after the incident. F.T. was taken to  Çorlu Police Station, officials announced that investigation continues.

Transphobic Murder in Istanbul

 

Trans woman Buse lost her life as a result of a hate crime in her home in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district. The district attorney’s examinations of Buse’s home are still underway. Camera footage will be inspected to verify the identity of the attacker.

Source: “İstanbul’da transfobik nefret cinayeti” (“Transphobic Murder in Istanbul”), Kaos GL, 4 March 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21241

buseistanbul

A trans woman named Buse was found dead in her home in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district.

Buse’s friends, who had not been able to get in touch with her, went to the house Buse lived in. When the door would not open, they had a locksmith open it and saw that Buse had died as a result of a transphobic hate crime. The friends then informed the police of the situation.

The body of Buse, who was killed with a sharp object, showed signs of battery all over her. It is estimated that the hate crime occurred two days before her body was discovered. No information about the attacker has been obtained yet.

The district attorney’s investigation of the home is still ongoing. It is thought that the attacker was a young man. Camera footage will be examined to find the murderer.

Another transphobic hate crime was experienced in Istanbul in recent weeks. Asya Özgür, who had previously been a candidate in the local elections (2014) for municipal council membership, was attacked in Fındıkzade, where she had worked the previous night. Özgür’s condition is improving.

 

Inquiry into Policemen who Attacked the Pride Parade was not Permitted!

 

The Governorship of Istanbul has not permitted a legal inquiry to be initiated against the police who attacked the Pride Parade, injuring many people and detaining journalists.

Source: “Onur Yürüyüşü’ne Saldıran Polislere Soruşturma İzni Çıkmadı!” (“Inquiry into Policemen who Attacked the Pride Parade was not Permitted!”) KaosGL.org, 25 November 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20603

Following the police attack of LGBTI organizations’ 2015 Pride Parade, the official complaint for trial of the officials of the General Directorate of Riot Police was finalized. The Governorship of Istanbul has not permitted inquiry into the policemen who attacked the parade.

The Governorship, stating that the Pride Parade had been “banned”, defended that the police attack that occurred throughout the day was “within the legal limits”. It further argued that there was not “any information, document, or video recording in relation to misconduct of the policemen”, despite the evidence submitted by LGBTI organizations and images shown in the media.

LGBTI organizations had filed an official complaint

LGBTI organizations had filed an official complaint, with regard to the police attack of the Pride Parade, concerning the Minister of Interior Affairs Sebahattin Ozturk, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin, and Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok, who executed the unlawful order.

Kaos GL, Lambdaistanbul, SPoD LGBTI, and Red Umbrella requested that the responsible parties be tried based on the following crimes: wounding with intent, torture, persecution, mistreatment, coercion, transgression of right to use force, misconduct, issuance of unlawful order and execution thereof, prevention of exercise of freedom of speech, prevention of exercise of freedom of association and right to hold meetings and demonstration marches, and restriction of liberty.

What happened at the Pride Parade?

The police attacked the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade with tear gas, water cannon, and plastic bullets. The protesters were detained, the journalists were assaulted. Yıldız Tar, KaosGL.org’s Editor, and Cicek Tahaoglu, Bianet’s Women and LGBTI News Editor, were among the detained and battered journalists.

Members of the Parliament from HDP and CHP stood hand in hand in opposition to the police. The rainbow flag flew in all of Beyoglu’s streets despite the police attack that went on throughout the day. The Governorship of Istanbul stated that the police “interfered” with the Pride Parade due to the possibility of “provocation”, even though there was no trouble of any kind until the police attack.

Following the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade, as the Governorship claimed there were “no injured people”, it was discovered that many were injured after being subject to police brutality. Among the injured was Sinan Onder Duman. Duman was injured in his right eye due to the targeted shot of a plastic bullet by the police.

Even though the Governorship alleged that no one suffered any injury, LGBTI activists were attacked by unidentified assailants in civilian dress, in Tophane. One person’s nose and another’s hipbone were broken.

The AKP’s LGBTI history from 2001-2015

From “their rights must be legally protected” to the prevention of inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the constitution and to directly targeting LGBTI through references to “the tribe of Lot”… Here is the LGBTI history of the AKP from 2001-2015.

Source: 2001’den 2015’e AKP’nin LGBTI tarihi (“The AKP”s LGBTI history from 2001-2015”), Kaos GL, 2 September 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20109

akplgbtmanset

We summarize the timeline that began in 2001 prior to the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) tenure with the view that “legal protections are warranted for gay rights and freedoms.” This view gave way to the approach in the context of constitutional reform debates that said regarding homosexuality: “it is not this century’s problem” and finally we saw homosexuality denounced as immorality.  

The Justice and Development Party was founded on 14 August 2001 as a socially conservative Turkish political party. The AKP government followed moderate politics during the first period of their tenure and alleged to pursue a democratic and rights based approach regarding the LGBTI. In response to a question on a television program by Abbas Güçlü, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan replied, “Gays must have legal protections in terms of their rights and freedoms.”

2004: It is unnecessary to add sexual orientation!

The term sexual orientation which was included in the draft of the Turkish Penal Code through the efforts of LGBTI and feminist organizations was removed by the AKP government. The AKP government ended the prospect of preventing discrimination against LGBTI individuals. Cemil Çiçek, Justice Minister at the time, explained the rationale behind removing the term ‘sexual orientation’ from the draft of the Turkish Penal Code presented to the Parliament: “It is unnecessary to add sexual orientation because gender already covers it.”

2006: Wrong sexual preference!

Targeting a Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Dengir Mir Fırat, an AKP MP at the time, said:

He  talks as though he has the wrong sexual preference.

2007: Constitutional debates

Burhan Kuzu, Head of the Constitution Commission at the Turkish General Assembly and AKP MP said on 20 October 2007:

There is no such ruling [article banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation] in scientists’ texts. I have not received their letters yet; they will be considered when they are received. But at this point I do not expect the parliament to agree to it. It is presented as freedom, but there is yet no ground for this in Turkey. It does not appear to the kind of demand that would be approved by the Committee and the General Council. It is early for Turkey. The parliament cannot undertake a regulation without societal approval. Moreover no European constitution has it. Once we have the EU constitution we can see what to do.

Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, AKP MP, said on 20 October 2007: 

It is difficult for the constitution of 21st century; perhaps it would work for the 22nd century constitution. We have included in the draft what we call the third generation rights such as environmental rights. But this would be a fourth generation right. We have not considered such freedoms, and I doubt they would be accepted. There is no EU Constitution. Neither is there a consensus in Europe on this issue. Society will have to have a longer debate on this.

2008: “An AKP member who makes pledges to Dönmes [1]

Columnist Serdar Arsever from the Yeni Akit newspaper published an op-ed about the participation of Zafer Üskül [AKP MP] in a conference organized by Kaos GL in 2008 titled, “International Anti-homophobia Meeting.” In this op-ed, the author described Üskül as “an AKP MP who makes pledges to dönmes” and added:

He participates in the sexual perverts’ meeting! Excuse me…he appears in the meeting of f..ts (sic)!…And that was not enough…He proceeds up to the dais and points to the administration [AKP government] as “the guarantee that they would not be discriminated on the basis of their sexual preferences.’

In response to the concern expressed about the spread of the freedom to wear headscarves to high schools, AKP MP Burhan Kuzu stated:

We have received intense demands from homosexuals about equality and the right to marry as well. Are we going to give these rights because they want them? The public is not ready for this.

(28 January 2008, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/2008/01/28/siyaset/asiy.html)

(more…)

Three perps get 27 years each in prison for raping trans sex worker in Turkey

3 suspects get 27 years and 6 months each for allegedly forcing a trans worker into their car in Izmir and raping her in a forest.

Source: Kaos GL, “Trans seks işçisine tecavüze 27’şer yıl hapis”, (“Three perps get 27 years each in prison for raping trans sex worker”), kaosGL.org, 11 July 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19822

On 22 September 2014, trans sex worker M.T. agreed [on a sex work deal] with Cengiz K. who approached her by car. When Cengiz K. also pick up his friends Çağlar Ş. and Erol K., M.T. wanted to leave.

The two people who got in the car later allegedly shut M.T.’s mouth and took her to a forest in Yamanlar. The three people raped M.T. and ran off with her jewellery after forcing her with a knife. Police quickly caught the three suspects through the car’s license plate. Çağlar Ş., Cengiz K., and Erol K. were arrested after being sent to the prosecutor.

The three defendants and lawyers attended the last hearing in Izmir 7th Heavy Penal Court. In the previous hearing M.T. had testified saying, “They threatened me and said, “If you don’t want to die here, do as you are told, we have a knife in the car, we’ll cut you.” They forcibly undressed me. They raped me taking turns without my consent. I’m bringing a complaint against the defendants.”

Defendant Çağlar Ş. said, “We did not forcibly do anything to this person. The person was already under the influence of alcohol when the person got in the car. We couldn’t agree on the money. Once the deed was done, they [1] demanded a high amount of money. When we told them that we won’t pay what they were demanding, they screamed and shouted and threw the money at our face. They are complaining about us because they found the money too low.”

Erol K. argued that they have been detained for a long time and are therefore victims and said, “The complainant isn’t even coming to the hearings. We have families, kids, and regular jobs. Our only fault is to have had a [sexual] relation with their consent. I defer this first to God and then to you.”

Cengiz K. stated, “Do you think a person who willingly hurts themselves and hurts without pity would pity others? I believe you’ll act justly. I defer this first to almighty God and then to you.”

The prosecutor gave the opinion to acquit the defendants for the crime of plunder but to punish them for the other crimes. After a short recess, the court president gave 27 years and 6 months of prison sentence to each of the defendants for “sexual assault” and “depriving the person of their freedom”. The defendants and their relatives reacted to the decision and the defendants were taken back to prison.

[1] The Turkish language does not have gendered pronouns and it is unclear how the defendants’ approached M.T.’s gender identity. The choice of “they” by the translator is to keep the quotes gender-neutral like Turkish- but it does not mean that the defendants’ respected M.T.’s gender identity.