LGBTI Turkey

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

Rainbow Colors of Turkey’s May Day

Source: Yıldız Tar, “LGBTİ’ler 1 Mayıs’ta 18 Şehirde Alanlarda!” (“Rainbow Colors of Turkey’s May Day”), Kaos GL, 02 May 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=16481

LGBTI people in Turkey took the streets in 18 different cities for May Day: Let’s get liberated together!
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LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people took the streets all over Turkey on International Workers’ Day. Rainbow flags were carried in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Antep, Balikesir, Canakkale, Dersim, Diyarbakir, Eskisehir, Giresun, Iskenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Malatya, Mersin and Trabzon this year, making it the biggest LGBTI participation on the day.

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Adana

Adana: That kind of job!
LGBTIs gathered in Adana upon the call of Queer Adana and marched behind the banner “that kind of job”. They carried placards such as “love between women exists” and “don’t touch my willpower”.

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Ankara

Ankara: We will get either liberated or decayed altogether!
Having taken the streets for the first time in 2001 as an organized group, LGBTIs gathered in front of Ankara Train Station. Kaos GL and Pink Life Associations as well as independent LGBTI activists marched behind the banner “we will get either liberated or decayed altogether!”

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Antalya

Antalya: Workers and faggots hand in hand for a sexual and class revolution!
Pink Carette LGBTI filled Antalya with rainbow flags as well as their banner “workers and faggots hand in hand for a sexual and class revolution”.

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Antep

Antep: Homophobia out, colors in!
ZeugMadi LGBT stood against homophobia and transphobia with a banner “homophobia out, colors in.”

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Balıkesir

Balikesir: What’s prohibition, ayol*?
LGBTI in Balikesir marched with Balikesir Branch of Human Rights Association and said: What’s a prohibition, ayol[1]?

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Çanakkale

Rainbow flags in Canakkale
LGBTIs took the streets in Canakkale and became a part of the May Day demonstration.

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Dersim

Dersim: A world with no bosses, no pimps, no violence and no exploitation
LGBTIs in Dersim gathered upon the call of Rostiya Asme Initiative with participation of LGBTIs from neighboring cities. They demanded a world with no bosses, no pimps, no violence and no exploitation.

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Diyarbakır

Diyarbakir: Keep up the struggle!
KeSKeSoR LGBT marched with rainbow and KeSKeSoR flags. Participating in every social action for many years, LGBTIs in Diyarbakir said “keep up the struggle”.

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Eskişehir

Eskisehir: Generally immoral!
MorEl made a call for the May Day demonstration in Eskisehir and marched with placards “generally immoral”, “what if I am a faggot” and “sexual orientation in the Constitution”.

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Giresun

Giresun: No to the sexist and homophobic system!
Giresun opened a banner “no to the sexist and homophobic system” and carried rainbow flags.

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Iskenderun

Iskenderun: What’s a boss, ayol[1]?
Iskenderun Colors of Freedom took the streets with a banner “what’s a boss, ayol*?”

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Istanbul

Istanbul: Rainbow at the barricades
LGBTIs in Istanbul met in the district of Sisli in order to march to the prohibited Taksim Square. Rainbow flags were present at the barricades during the all-day-long clashes.

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Izmir

Izmir: LGBTI rights, a labor issue
LGBTIs in Izmir painted May Day in rainbow colors and said “LGBTI rights, a labor issue”.

Kayseri

Rainbow in Kayseri
LGBTIs in Kayseri marched with their rainbow flags among the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

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Kocaeli

Kocaeli: LGBTI everywhere!
LGBTIs in Kocaeli said “LGBTIs are everywhere” and flourished a freedom struggle in the city.

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Malatya

Malatya: Homophobia out, colors in
Malatya Youth Initiative Against Homophobia and Transphobia said in the meeting stage “homophobia out, colors in”.

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Mersin

Broad participation in Mersin
Mersin 7 Colors increased the volume of the song of freedom in the city. The demonstration saw a broad participation with many people giving an open support to the LGBTI struggle.

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Trabzon

Rainbow in Trabzon, too!
Trabzon Purple Fish LGBT participated in the demonstration with their rainbow flags, saying “we are everywhere”.

[1] Ayol is an exclamatory word associated with femininity and taboos and can mean “well”, “hey”, “wow”. The word itself has been in use in colloquial Turkish and underground LGBTI culture, however, its full and current appropriation by LGBTI organizations is a recent phenomenon that started with the Gezi Resistance in May 2013.  One of the first uses was in a banner “What’s forbidden, ayol!” during protests on Istiklal Avenue in Taksim, Istanbul. “Ayol” has been appearing as graffiti across Turkey since then. “Resist ayol” was used as a twitter hashtag for 2013 Pride Week. Its importance is rooted in the fact that though “ayol” was used by LGBTI organizations, it has been accepted and appropriated across groups in the Resistance. One explanation for its popularity can be found in the feeling that the word transcends and frees traditional gender roles and power relations; it imparts a sense of freedom…

The police officer, who was expelled from the profession for being gay, speaks

Source: “Eşcinsel olduğu için meslekten ihraç edilen polis konuştu,” (“The police officer, who was expelled from the profession for being gay, speaks,”) t24, 09 March 2014, http://m.t24.com.tr/haber/escinsel-oldugu-icin-meslekten-ihrac-edilen-polis-konustu/252935

The gay police officer who was accused of unchaste conduct and expelled from the profession, said, “If, in 18 years, I had once made myself visible as gay, one day, and been fired upon a complaint, I would not have been sorry..”

The gay police officer being accused of “unchaste conduct” while on duty was fired and expelled from the profession as a result of the statement he submitted to the Morality Desk. He was fired and banned from the profession on the grounds that he “consorted with women who worked in brothels or worked alone at premises such as bars, taverns, casinos, etc. where prostitution takes place, or consorted with women and men reputed to be unchaste and lived like husband and wife.” The officer appealed to the administrative court but his appeal was rejected.

The police officer, who was fired for being gay, spoke to Burcu Karakaş. Below is the interview that was published in the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet:

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Yeni Akit: The Perverts Pester High Schools

Source: İskender Özel, “Sapkınlar liselere el attı” (“And Now the Perverts Pester High Schools”) Yeni Akit, 01 March 2014, http://www.yeniakit.com.tr/haber/sapkinlar-liselere-el-atti-12254.html

Yeni Akit is a conservative daily newspaper that engages in hate speech against LGBTI people and other groups. This is a verbatim translation. 

LGBT organizations in Turkey are known to be already gaining popularity and wide acceptance in Turkish Universities. And now, they ‘pester’ high schools which are run by the Ministry of National Education!

“These perverts will take advantage of working with peer groups to confuse the innocent minds of students”

“They Are Pioneering Immorality”

Some high-school age students who had participated in former meetings of LGBT organizations reunited on February 6, 2014 and established LGBT High-School. The initiative was formed by F.H. and E.Ö., two members of the youth branch of Lambdaistanbul. While spreading perversity in high schools, they will be receiving support from their elders. The second meeting of the newly formed LGBT High-School was held on February 21 and stated “we are speaking from the schools, where heterosexism, transphobia, sexism, militarism, and speciesism are being imposed”

The fact that the initiative’s formation was first covered by Armenian newspaper AGOS and by the trigger of the Cemaat (Gülen movement) T24 was not seen as meaningful.

I Attempted Suicide

Source: Burcu Karakaş, “İntihara teşebbüs ettim,” (“I Attempted Suicide,”) milliyet, 02 March 2014, http://gundem.milliyet.com.tr/-intihara-tesebbus-ettim-/gundem/detay/1845217/default.htm?ref=OtherNews

I attempted suicide

A homosexual police officer in Gaziantep was fired due to being charged with the crime of “unchastity.” The police officer applied to the Administrative Court for the annulment of the decision but was rejected. He said, “I went through a huge trauma. I attempted suicide. The judges decide according to their own moral rules. According to them, we do not even have the right to life.”

A homosexual police officer’s life has changed when the Morality Desk raided his friend’s house in Gaziantep. The officer was taking food to his friend. After an unidentified person’s tip-off, the police officer, who chose to remain anonymous, and his friend were obliged to go with the officers from the Morality Desk to the police department and to give their statements.

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The Story of an HIV Positive Gay Man: At First They Show Compassion, Then They Flee

Source: Yıldız Tar, “HIV+ Bir Eşcinselin Hikayesi: Önce Acıyor, Sonra Kaçıyorlar,” (“The Story of an HIV Positive Gay Man: At First They Show Compassion, Then They Flee,”) kaosGL.org, 24 February 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=15889

Hasan Atik: As someone living with HIV, you are exposed to discrimination everywhere. They do not even want to pull my teeth. At first, people show compassion, then they run away, treating me like I am a monster.

HIV is a virus that makes your immune system deficient. If a person develops a serious infection due to having HIV, or if the immune system’s cells, which can be measured by blood tests, are highly depleted, then this can be classified as AIDS.

We spoke with Hasan Atik who has been living with HIV, something we know very little about, but everyone often talks about a lot. He spoke about the the difficulties of being HIV positive and gay: “HIV is a disease wrongly attributed to only gay people. It makes me sad to be the person who confirms this (stereotype).”

His story is one of segregation in every place, be it the law, health or social relationships. “The goal is to protect the other person from us. This is “othering” us. The situation – where we are already a monster in the eyes of the public – becomes worse.

Let us begin with the fact that you are person living with HIV in Turkey. What type of difficulties are you facing?

You are exposed to every type of discrimination – even the simplest of things. For example, a few days ago I went to the dentist to get my wisdom teeth removed. They did not remove my teeth, telling me a bunch of lies. The doctors were constantly speaking about me with each other. They did not even want to take an X-ray. While I was waiting in the waiting room, I heard the nurses speak about me. They were speaking in loud voices so I would hear and leave. In terms of health services and personal communication, we are exposed to an inordinate amount of discrimination.

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LGBTI Activist Recounts Homophobic Harassment During Detention

Source: Yıldız Tar, “LGBTİ Aktivisti Gözaltında Homofobik Tacizi Anlattı,” (“LGBTI Activist Recounts Homophobic Harassment during Detention,”) Kaos GL, 26 February 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=15914

A demonstration took place in Taksim on February 22, 2014 against Internet censorship. The police attacked the protesters with tear gas and took many of them into custody. Among the detainees was Hevi LGBTI member Sezer Yekta. Yekta was taken into custody with the justification that he was in possession of a rainbow flag. He was assaulted and was subjected to homophobic harassment by the police.

Sezer Yekta recounts that night and what he experienced:

Yes, I was among those detained on February 22 during the demonstrations against Internet censorship.

We were in Taksim around 7 PM. The square itself appeared calm. We began to walk and ran into some leftist protesters with flags. This was probably around the store MANGO. Seeing them gave me courage and I took out the rainbow flag that I had folded up in my bag. As I was trying to attach the flag to its handle, I found myself abruptly surrounded by police terror – without any notice or warning. Those who had the chance to escape had already run away. I, on the other hand, was in the arms of two creatures. I vaguely remember that they took the rainbow flag and stomped on it.

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