LGBTI rights in Turkey

Activists: Ankara ban on LGBTI+ events spreading to other cities!

The “politics of repression” that began with police attacking the 13th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March in 2015 when some 100,000 people were expected to attend, and hardened with the state of emergency declared after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, has increasingly shrunk our living spaces.

After President Erdogan characterized LGBTI+ existences as contrary to morality on Nov. 9, the Ankara governor’s office banned all LGBTI+ events within the province in an indefinite period via a statement on Nov. 18. Cancellations of events in Izmir, Bursa, Kocaeli and Mardin followed the Ankara ban. Now, LGBTI+ events within the framework of Nov. 25 — the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women — have been banned in Istanbul. These bans have followed a common program with hate speech campaigns led by dark pro-government newspapers.

At this stage, local authorities are banning events like film screenings, exhibitions, forums, panels and meetings by LGBTI+ groups in arbitrary and illegal grounds, thereby taking away LGBTI+s freedom, living space and city rights. The grounds for this attitude that is limiting our freedom has been shown as “social sensitivities and sensibilities,” “protecting public health and morality” and “protecting other people’s rights and freedoms.” But we know that the “sensitivity” in the foreground of these allegations can only be found within repressive and oppressive ones. It’s an incontestable fact that LGBTI+ individuals face discrimination in fundamental rights such as education, health, housing, employment, security and transportation in their daily lives and within the law, both in our country and the world. LGBTI+ organizations in Turkey are respectable civil society groups tied to the country’s law on associations working for more than 25 years to ensure LGBTI+ individuals lead safe, healthy and equal social and economic lives. These mass bans are completely contrary to human rights, democratic values of our century and social development is enough to show that the administration in Turkey is now at a point beyond logic.

We invite the national and international public to raise their voice to put an end this craziness. We want these decisions that are limiting our freedoms and taking away our living spaces to be reversed immediately!

We invite authorities to “allow life to go back to its normal course”!

Please contact reverseankaraban@gmail.com for further info and your questions.

LGBTIs dispersed all around Istanbul for Istanbul Pride

Police attacked throughout the day, LGBTIs resisted the attack by “dispersing” around the streets of Beyoğlu, Kadıköy and Şişli. When the committee was not allowed to read out the press statement in Tünel, the text was read in many locations around Taksim. At least 25 were detained.[1]

Source: KaosGL,  “LGBTI’ler Istanbul’un her yerine ‘dağıldı’”, June 26, 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21962

LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, called for dispersing all around Beyoğlu, following the ban against the Pride March.

Police blockaded Taksim and Istiklal Avenue. All through the day the activists against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia said “We existed, we exist and we will exist” with rainbow flags, all around Beyoğlu.

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Members of EP were also detained

The committee was not allowed to hold a press release at Tünel. Police did not let journalists stand in Tünel Square, where the statement was to be read after 16:00. Seven people from the LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee were battered while being detained. Member of German Federal Assembly Volker Beck and Member of European Parliament Terry Reintke were briefly taken into custody and released. Two of Reintke’s aides, Felix Banaszak and Max Lucks were among the detained.

Press statement was read everywhere

The press statement was read in many public and private locations in Beyoğlu and Şişli. Among these locations were Cihangir, HDK office, SYKP office, Mis Street, Tel Street, Istiklal Avenue, Kadıköy Lambdaistanbul office and Kurtuluş. Many individuals also read the press statement written by the committee, from where they stood. The full text was read on 95.1 FM Özgür Radio as well.

Police attacks [have] continued throughout the day in Mis Street, İmam Adnan Street, Istiklal Avenue and Firuzağa. According to the information received by the crisis desk during the police attacks, at least 19 were detained [1], one person was shot on the face by a gas cannister. Reporter Metin Cihan was also among the detained.

“Society is none other than us”

The full text of the press statement that was banned by the police but read all around Beyoğlu and Şişli is below:

“The reason why we are reading this press statement today is because the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March has been banned.

Pride Marches are among the biggest, multi-voiced, and mass demonstrations that this country has witnessed. In our marches, we stand up to this dark time that is our share in world history, with our love and desire. We hold those who seize our labor accountable, we take our destiny into our hands, we dream our own future. We defend peace instead of war, courage instead of fear, and all who are oppressed. We show that a different world, sexuality, body, and life is possible. Those who banned our march used “society’s sensitivities” as an excuse. But what’s being guarded is not society’s but the government’s sensitivities. Society is none other than us. What’s being banned is our attempt to voice our longing to exist as proud people of this world, our demands, peace, justice, and equality. Banning our march is an unsuccessful attempt to silence our voices.

Unsuccessful because the pride of our existence grows with every oppression. We proudly own all the insults they throw at us to hurt us. We are expanding our limited spaces with solidarity. We are leading a revolution on every street we walk, on every work day, every house, every love and every act of lovemaking. We are killed and reborn in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antep, Diyarbakir, Mexico, Bangladesh, and Orlando. We will always exist, shout out our existence, and always be proud of our existence.”

“We just started marching”

“We are not marching today but we just started marching [forwards]. The sound of our slogans is in our ears, the colors of the rainbow are with us, the scent of freedom is in our noses. We are on this path to demand more than tolerance and permits. We are continually strengthening our resistance everywhere to demand that our personal, political, and social rights are guaranteed; that sexual orientation and gender identity are included in the constitution; and that the reality of the LGBTI+ movement as a political participant is recognized.

We are dispersing, we are stronger, bigger, and louder. They are right to be afraid of us because we are uniting, growing, and marching.”

 

[1] Final number of people detained is 29. All were released the same day.

 

We Dispersed on Every Street for the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March

On Sunday, 26 June we “dispersed” everywhere on Istiklal Avenue against the Istanbul Governor’s Office’s ban on 19 June Trans Pride March and Istanbul LGBT+ Pride March and press statement. Our press statement was read on numerous streets, our rainbow flag hung on buildings, the streets undulating. Among those who read our press statement was also Terry Reintke, Member of European Parliament.

From time to time, the police intervened on our friends dispersed around various corners of Istiklal Avenue with tear gas and detained 29 people. All of our friends who were detained have been released.

You can watch the press statement read throughout the day here.

Our Press Statement:

Make noise, shout, and scream wherever you are, wherever you are organized! #wedisperse #dağılıyoruz

The reason why we are reading this press statement today is because the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March has been banned.

Pride Marches are among the biggest, multi-voiced, and mass demonstrations that this country has witnessed. In our marches, we stand up to this dark time that is our share in world history, with our love and desire. We hold those who seize our labor accountable, we take our destiny into our hands, we dream our own future. We defend peace instead of war, courage instead of fear, and all who are oppressed. We show that a different world, sexuality, body, and life is possible. Those who banned our march used “society’s sensitivities” as an excuse. But what’s being guarded is not society’s but the government’s sensitivities. Society is none other than us. What’s being banned is our attempt to voice our longing to exist as proud people of this world, our demands, peace, justice, and equality. Banning our march is an unsuccessful attempt to silence our voices.

Unsuccessful because the pride of our existence grows with every oppression. We proudly own all the insults they throw at us to hurt us. We are expanding our limited spaces with solidarity. We are leading a revolution on every street we walk, on every work day, every house, every love and every act of lovemaking. We are killed and reborn in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antep, Diyarbakir, Mexico, Bangladesh, and Orlando. We will always exist, shout out our existence, and always be proud of our existence.

We are not marching today but we just started marching [forwards]. The sound of our slogans is in our ears, the colors of the rainbow are with us, the scent of freedom is in our noses. We are on this path to demand more than tolerance and permits. We are continually strengthening our resistance everywhere to demand that our personal, political, and social rights are guaranteed; that sexual orientation and gender identity are included in the constitution; and that the reality of the LGBTI+ movement as a political participant is recognized.

We are dispersing, we are stronger, bigger, and louder. They are right to be afraid of us because we are uniting, growing, and marching.

 

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.

(more…)

Trans Pride Press Statement

Source: Kaos GL, “Polis saldırısı nedeniyle okunamayan Trans Onur Yürüyüşü açıklaması”, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21909

We are publishing the Trans Pride March press statement by Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association that could not be publicly read due to police intervention. 

The press release of the 7th Trans Pride March is as follows:

The 7th Trans Pride March that we have organized has begun in sadness and anger in the wake of the Orlando massacre. The discussions that began before we had even mourned the Orlando massacre exhibit the magnitude of the hate culture that is created in society. The calls to massacre by the jihadists and Salafist groups in the media and on social media complemented the decision of the Governor’s Office to forbid the march and exposed the coalition amongst these groups. State officials who did not initiate processes of persecution supported these massacring groups who made calls for [a] massacre and bans with threatening statements and targeted people who wanted to exercise their constitutional rights to join the march.

We Know of this collaboration from Sivas, from Maraş!

We know of this collaboration from Suruç, from Amed [Diyarbakır], from Ankara!

We know of this collaboration from Trans murders and the selfies taken with murderers!

The Trans Pride March, organized 6 years in a row without any problems posed to public order, was terrorized by both the state and the puritanical groups, targeting our friends who participated in the organization of this week. The hateful culture created in society provided the basis for the attacks and, through the media, LGBTIs were turned into open targets.

We declare here once again! The parties responsible for all the attacks that will occur due to this hate culture are Istanbul Mayor Vasıp Şahin, Istanbul Police Chief Mustafa Çalışkan, Minister of Interior Efkan Ala and the AKP government, who disregard and encourage this.

This argument that began with the excuse of disrespect for the month of Ramadan shows us where those who are not Turkish, Muslim, Sunni, and male will stand in this nonsensical New Turkey. This sensibility that imposes their own norm on the totality of society and target those who do not abide by this norm will bring nothing but a massacre for the Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Greeks, Roma, LGBTIs, women, laborers and workers.

While every critical opinion about the President expressed on Twitter draws house raids, arrests, and detention, open calls to attack are disregarded and the complaints of rights defenders remain unprocessed. None of us are safe in a country where jihadist terrorist groups move freely, where borders are opened from one end to the other, where militants are treated in hospitals and sent back to the war zone.

Within this reality, the situation of trans society is in an even worse state. Trans individuals who cannot camouflage themselves in social life are turned into targets and are deprived of all their fundamental rights.

The Republic of Turkey, which defines itself as a social state, usurps our right to life, housing, education, health, and movement, forcing us to live in oppression that has not been seen before.

We, the children of the rainbow, shout out once again:

We are the owners of these lands and the guarantors of a bright future!

We will continue to fight for an equal, free, and democratic world.

We bow with respect to the memory of our friends massacred in Orlando and promise a world without homophobia and transphobia!

Don’t forget Orlando, don’t let anyone forget!

Despite hate, hooray life!

Hate crimes are political!

Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association