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

 

Hate Campaign against Pride March

An organization named “Muslim Youth of Anatolia” has started a hate and lynching campaign on social media against Pride Week that will be celebrated during the last week of June. Facebook administration indicated that the page, which openly calls for an attack, “does not violate standards”.

Source: Mehmet Akın, “Onur Yürüşü’ne karşı nefret kampanyası”, Agos, 14 June 2016, http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/15648/onur-yuruyusu-ne-karsi-nefret-kampanyasi

 

Hate and lynching campaigns were started against the LGBTI Pride March which is celebrated in the last week of June every year. An organization by the name of “Muslim Youth of Anatolia” opened an event on Facebook, inviting people to attack Pride March. The event titled “We won’t let the dishonorable perverts walk” invites people to meet in Taksim on June 19 [when Trans Pride will take place]. The posts about this event have also been shared on Twitter.

The invite reads “We won’t let the dishonorable perverts walk! Do not let the disgrace that is ironically called Pride March take place on June 19. Intervene! We are waiting for you.”

Screen shot 2016-06-14 at 12.11.49.png

Messages and images which invite the people to attack Pride March are published on the event page on Facebook. Harun Sekmen, a reporter from Yeni Akit daily, infamous for its news filled with hate speech against LGBTI and Enes Babacan, another reporter from Millet daily sent messages of support to the event page. Images that are assumed to belong to ISIS and photos of people being tortured are also being shared on the event page.

LGBTI activists reported the event to Facebook administration. Facebook administration first sent a message to the activists, stating “We examined the page and saw that it does not violate our community standards”. Upon complaints the page was closed as of today.

SPoD: We are starting the legal process

Lawyer Rozerin Seda Kip, from the board of Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD) has stated that they will be following up on this discourse of hate. Kip has said “We will not let animosity and rage be spread in our society by those who made this call. LGBTI associations will start the necessary legal process as soon as possible”.

Neither the Governor’s Office nor the Ministry of Internal Affairs made a statement about security measures to be taken for Pride March.

During a press statement yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli stated “We don’t know really, but if it’s permitted necessary security measures would be taken as well.”

 

My Pride Story: Being born into love

Today in Pride stories: Maybe my story doesn’t take place in Istanbul, maybe I didn’t walk with thousands of people, maybe I wasn’t soaked by water cannons but that day a big void inside me was filled.

içimizdenbiri’s Pride story [1]

May 21, 2016/ Lefkoşa [2] March Against Homophobia

Note: Maybe it wasn’t Pride, but it was for me.

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A child, who never thought they could and who never did join Pride, whose self acceptance process started only a few years ago, who is only trying to let themselves go to be happy. This child has only lived inside themselves and raised their voice only for others. But that day something was different, that day this child walked for themselves. You know why? Because love…

Maybe my story does not take place in Istanbul or any other big city in the world, maybe I didn’t walk with thousands of people, maybe I was not soaked by water cannons, I wasn’t exposed to homophobic stares, maybe I wasn’t shot that day, but a big void inside me was filled. The hope that years took away from me piece by piece was standing in front of me as a whole and all it needed was a little courage.

When we got to the starting point of the march, there was a little group and we did not draw too much attention. But minutes later, people started gathering, people who brought their children with them, people who drew rainbows on their faces and eyes. As the crowd got bigger, I couldn’t stop the enthusiasm rising inside me. I grabbed a flag, looked at the crowd and the first thing I felt was happiness. I wasn’t the “other” anymore, I did not feel different. I was there, everyone was seeing me and I was smiling like there is no tomorrow; we were infinite. The march started and people started joining the crowd along the way. Old aunts and uncles applauding from their balconies. Slogans, whistles, laughters, I didn’t want any of that to end. But everything ends and so did this, but this end was the beginning of many things.

If I learned anything these past few months of my life, you become someone when you let your guard down, a person. And your whole life stands in front of you and looks at you. Your feelings are free, your thoughts are not restricted. That is when love comes- or not but that’s what you think- it enters your life when you least expect it. The feelings whose existence you did not accept for years stand in front of you like a mountain. No one knows, and many don’t believe it but there you know it and the rest is not important. What you hold on to is not that love or what you feel for that person, it is just that hope. Then the desire to get up and do something is born inside you and your march towards the sun starts.

As Sezen Aksu [3] says “If I didn’t die of love, if I wasn’t born into love, would I devote myself to fairy tales?”

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.

Translator’s Notes:

[1] İçimizden biri means one of us in Turkish.

[2] Lefkoşa is the Turkish name for Nicosia, a city in Northern Cyprus.

[3] Sezen Aksu is an iconic Turkish singer/song-writer.

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.

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.

Turkey’s LGBTI File Criminal Complaints for Attacks Against Istanbul Pride- Hear Them Out!

Turkey LGBTI

“We are here today to make a complaint against the Governor of Istanbul, Minister of Interior Affairs, General Chief of the Police in Istanbul and Istanbul police who attacked the protestors at the gay pride on 28th of June”, says lawyer and LGBTI rights advocate Yasemin Öz. Behind her looms the giant complex of the Caglayan Justice Palace. Though LGBTI activists doubt that the perpetrators of the violence against Istanbul Pride will be brought to justice, they vow to use every legal mechanism at their disposal.

Pride is a special day for Turkey’s LGBTI, who regularly face discrimination in all aspects of social life, if they are not already victims of hate crimes. University student and drag queer Madır Öktiş says, “Pride is the day I can express my pride with almost a hundred thousand people like me and it’s the only day I can, you know, I can feel that solidarity, that strong”.

Madır was getting ready to join the parade when they heard that police attacked pride-goers. They wore a pom pom hat and a hundred per cent gorgeous t-shit and “A police officer told me that I could not walk in with that outfit”.

Until this year, twelve Istanbul Pride Parades passed without incident. LGBTI activist and academic Volkan Yilmaz says, “I wasn’t expecting any attacks on Sunday because even after Gezi protests we could make the march happen so after the attacks, actually, I was a bit surprised and I started to think about why it happened now and it turned out to be that it’s about Ramadan month”.

Last year’s Pride also coincided with the month of Ramadan when an estimated ninety thousand people marched without police interference. But this year, there was a significant rise in the visibility of the LGBTI rights movement and a corollary increase in hate speech from both public officials and conservative media.

Veteran activist Şevval Kılıç says, “this is a big step, that we are threatening the system, we are a movement, a big huge movement, and of course some people are afraid of this, some people are afraid of changing, going forward”.

Volkan thinks the attacks may have happened “because of media provocations and the new governor of Istanbul is a bit more conservative than the other guy and this happened this year”.

At least 78 people were wounded in the police intervention against Pride. One person is in risk of losing an eye. The Governor stated that proportionate force was used against the demonstrators after they refused to disperse.

Boysan Yakar, a prominent LGBTI activist and advisor to Sisli Municipality Mayor, was among the wounded and filed a criminal complaint for battery charges. He says, “I was beaten by the police while I was trying to stop the violence of power at the very first beginning of the pride parade and at that moment we had the support of the MPs from two different parties, HDP and CHP, and when we were trying to stop the violence, police attacked many activists”.

Şevval takes issue with the Governor’s statement of proportionality. She says, “they just directly attacked us with plastic bullets, you know, there are thousands of ways that you can dismiss the crowd but they choose to attack us with plastic bullets”.

So far, 4 LGBTI associations and 68 individuals filed criminal complaints. They are filing criminal charges (PDF-Turkish) against Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk, Istanbul Governor Vasıp Şahin, Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok, and police officers involved in the attacks for the following crimes:

  • Offenses of Bodily Harm (Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Articles 86-87)
  • Torture (TCK Articles 94-95)
  • Torment (TCK Article 96)
  • Ill-treatment
  • Violence (TCK Article 108)
  • Exceeding the Limits of Authorization for Use of Force (TCK Article 256)
  • Misconduct in Office (TCK Article 257)
  • Executing Illegal Mandatory Provision and Order of the Supervisor (TCK Article 24)
  • Restriction of freedom of belief, conception, conviction (TCK Article 115)
  • Restriction of Right to Meetings and Demonstration Marches (Law No: 2911)
  • Offenses against Freedom (TCK Article 109)

As one of the seven lawyers submitting the complaints, Yasemin Öz says, “I’m not hopeful about the Turkish state’s courts, especially when it comes to the ministers, police chiefs, and governors but we are hopeful about the constitutional court or otherwise the European Court of Human Rights”

But despite the lack of trust in the Turkish judicial system, Volkan Yılmaz says, “We have to do it to push the legal process a bit further”.

There was global outcry against the banning of Istanbul Pride and the violence that ensued. Boysan appreciates the global support and says, “It’s great to see that thousands of people are protesting right now throughout the country, from Korea, from Japan till the United Kingdom and United States as well and this is not only happening in the level of citizens. This is happening in the very high levels as well. Government to government it’s happening right now. It’s so important. And it’s great to see such solidarity throughout the universe”.

Yasemin calls for continued support for LGBTI in Turkey and the world. “We want the world to know that our basic right to free assembly has been violated by our own state so as the LGBT people and their friends, we have to unite where there is a violence against LGBT people because no state volunteers to protect LGBT rights. Many states in the world criminalize homosexuality and transsexuality”.

Tired but determined, Boysan says, “We are here, we exist, and they have to get over it”. This is how everyone, gathered in front of the Caglayan Justice Palace to seek justice, feels. They chant, “Gays will not be silent, they will not be silent, will not be silent”.

Zeynep Bilginsoy/ LGBTI News Turkey

Summary Results of the Social and Economic Problems of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) Individuals in Turkey Research

Source: Yılmaz, V. and Göçmen, İ. (June, 2015), “Summary Results of the Social and Economic Problems of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) Individuals in Turkey Research”, Vol. IV, Issue 6, pp.97-105, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=9142)

Abstract

Social and Economic Problems of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Individuals in Turkey Research offers insight to social and economic problems that LGBT individuals face due to the discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Results of the research report diverse forms of discrimination that LGBT individuals encounter in various domains of social policies including employment, health, education, income poverty, housing, participation in the social life, family and ageing. While reporting different forms of discrimination from the perspective of LGBT individuals, the research also demonstrates that the legal system falls short of tackling these forms of discrimination again in the eyes of LGBT individuals.

Please see the full article here: http://researchturkey.org/summary-results-of-the-social-and-economic-problems-of-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transsexual-lgbt-individuals-in-turkey-research/

22 MPs in Turkey’s New Parliament Will Support LGBTI Rights

64 candidates for parliament signed SPoD LGBTI’s LGBTI Rights Pledge ahead of the elections and promised to protect LGBT rights. The number of pledgers are expected to increase. 22 of the pledgers have won seats in the Parliament.

The candidates below will be entering Turkey’s 25th Parliament. They have pledged to work for LGBTI rights in Turkey.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

  1. Asiye Kolçak, MP for Bursa from HDP
  2. Çilem Öz, MP for Mersin from HDP
  3. Erdal Ataş, MP for Istanbul from HDP
  4. Filiz Kerestecioğlu, MP for Istanbul from HDP
  5. Ali Haydar Konca, MP for Kocaeli from HDP
  6. Remzi Özgökçe, MP for Van from HDP
  7. Selami Özyaşar, MP for Van from HDP

Republican People’s Party (CHP)

  1. Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  2. İlhan Cihaner, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  3. Aykut Erdoğdu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  4. Dursun Çiçek, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  5. Didem Engin, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  6. Sezgin Tanrıkulu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  7. Şafak Pavey, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  8. Zeynep Altıok, MP for Izmir from CHP
  9. Musa Çam, MP for Izmir from CHP
  10. Selin Sayek Böke, MP for Izmir from CHP
  11. Selina Doğan, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  12. Enis Berberoğlu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  13. Aylin Nazlıaka, MP for Ankara from CHP
  14. Onursal Adıgüzel, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  15. Özcan Purçu, MP for Izmir from CHP

Please see the full list of pledgers below.

(more…)

The Campaign Against Homosexuality in Turkey’s Elections

Only days before Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary elections, unknown gunmen shot at the campaign office of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the early morning hours of June 2 in Eskisehir, a city in northwest Turkey. More than 100 attacks have been carried out against election offices of the HDP, a left-wing and pro-Kurdish party, during this campaign season, according to Dicle News Agency. [1] Though no one was hurt in the Eskisehir attack, the HDP’s openly gay candidate Baris Sulu, who runs his campaign from that office, left the city over safety concerns.

Sulu has been receiving threats since he declared his candidacy for the HDP nomination in February. A seasoned activist, Sulu says he joined the HDP because the party supported rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) people even at its nascent stage as the Peoples’ Democratic Congress in 2011. Sulu’s candidacy is highly notable in a conservative country where prejudice and harassment against LGBTI people is a fact of daily life. The number of threats rose in April with his official nomination but the dramatic increase came in May when pro-government media outlets started targeting him.

Pro-government Sabah and Star daily newspapers have called Sulu’s campaign “vile propaganda,” criticizing his tweets such as “recognize our sexual orientation” and for wanting “people to react normally to men kissing.” [23] The Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Akit, infamous for its attacks on LGBTI people, published blurred photographs of Sulu and his partner kissing under the title “Immoral prostitution images of the HDP’s perverted candidate revealed!” [4] The article was quickly reposted by other media outlets and social media users, which escalated the online threats.

In Turkey, media attacks often go hand-in-hand with similar statements from elected officials. President Erdogan, who has led the campaign for the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) despite the fact that his position calls for neutrality, lambasted the HDP on May 28 at a meeting in Ankara. “We don’t nominate so-called religious scholars in Diyarbakir [a pre-dominantly Kurdish city in Turkey’s southeast] and homosexuals in Eskisehir,” Erdogan said in reference to what he sees as the HDP’s pandering to opposing sensitivities of different regions of the country. [5]

Following Erdogan’s statements, two parliamentary hopefuls from the AKP, in an effort to garner votes from religiously conservative Kurds, have criticized the HDP for nominating an openly gay candidate, arguing that homosexuality cannot be reconciled with Islam.

At a campaign stop in the southeastern province of Siirt, AKP candidate Yasin Aktay criticized the HDP’s nominations and said, “You are the child of a Muslim. The Kurds are Muslim and if there are, excuse me, 3 homosexuals on the list of Muslims who defend man’s marriage to man, then I will ask you ‘who are you?’” Aktay concluded that “it is impossible for Muslim society to affirm a man’s marriage to a man.” [6]

Former Interior Minister and AKP candidate Efkan Ala expressed fear that the HDP would give gays and lesbians “all sorts of rights” such as the recognition of same-sex marriages. Speaking to his “Kurdish brothers” on a Turkish news channel, Ala said, “We are against such things that our morality and our traditions reject.” He warned his listeners “the tribe of Lot was destroyed because of this; this is the destruction of humanity,” referring to the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, a trope often used against LGBT communities in the Muslim world. [7]

Sulu says that after each public speech, he has received threats on Twitter from AK trolls, supporters of the AKP who launch large-scale smear campaigns on social media. They called him a pervert “who will burn in hell.” He blocks at least 10 accounts every day, but “systematic swearing, insults, and threats continue to come to all of my social media accounts,” Sulu said.

Sulu believes that Erdogan’s statement in 2002 that “homosexuals must also be given legal protection for their rights and freedoms” was only to appear sympathetic to the EU. [8] Now at the brink of losing a significant number of parliamentary seats to the HDP, “all their hidden fears, all the times they were being disingenuous, are coming out to the surface,” in the shape of homophobia. President Erdogan confirmed this at a June 3 rally in the eastern province of Bingol, when he said, “The Armenian lobby, homosexuals and those who believe in ‘Alevism without Ali’ – all these representatives of sedition are [the HDP’s] benefactors.” [9]

Sulu is last on the list of 6 HDP candidates in Eskisehir and, thus, unlikely to be elected into office. However, the nomination of an openly gay man for parliament is highly notable in Turkey, where 87 percent of respondents to Bahcesehir University’s 2012 survey, “Turkish Values Atlas,” said they do not want gay neighbors. [10] Since 2010, 47 individuals have been killed due to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. [11] In May alone there were 5 assaults on transgender individuals in Istanbul. [12]

The HDP’s nomination of an openly gay candidate has created campaign fodder for the AKP. While singling out Sulu could prove dangerous for the candidate, he remains hopeful. “If we as LGBTIs are taken so seriously, then we must be succeeding in our twenty year rights struggle,” Sulu said.

Zeynep Bilginsoy is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul. She’s also the founder and project manager of LGBTI News Turkey, an English translation resource on LGBTI issues in Turkey.