pride 2017

“Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?”

HDP’s İstanbul MP Garo Paylan inquired on the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the reasons for detentions during the walk, in the parliamentary question he presented to PM Yıldırım.

Source: “Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?” (“Hükümetin Onur Yürüyüşüne Tavrı Neden 2015’ten Sonra Değişti?”), bianet.org, June 28, 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/187827-hukumetin-onur-yuruyusune-tavri-neden-2015-ten-sonra-degisti

HDP’s Istanbul MP Garo Paylan presented a parliamentary question to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım regarding the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the violent police intervention.

Paylan reminded [parliament] that Pride Week Committee’s notification and demand for an appointment from the governorate 20 days prior to the walk were not responded to and that the Governorate of Istanbul announced the ban one day before the walk. He stated that members of Alperen Hearths who threatened those participating the walk were released after an ID check, whereas those who came to walk were detained.

Paylan asked the questions below to PM Yıldırım:

  • What is the real reason for the governorate’s ban against LGBTI+ Pride Walk which has been continuing peacefully for years in Turkey, taking place without any judicial cases or “security threats”?

  • Why has the government changed its attitude towards the Pride Walk since 2015, as there were no bans prior to that date?

  • What is the reason for the violent intervention of law enforcement against the citizens coming to the LGBTI+ Pride Walk?

  • On what grounds were the participants of the LGBTI+ Pride Walk were detained while the members of Alperen Hearths who attacked them were released after an ID check?

  • What is the reason for the detention of the lawyers who intervened to help the citizens in custody?

  • Is there an investigation against the hate speech of law enforcement against the LGBTI+ individuals?

  • Do you think that the ban against the walk might result in an increase in hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTI+ individuals?

How to “pass” police tests in Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March was banned by the governor’s office for the third year in a row after more than a decade of peaceful marches. With the ban, police set up checkpoints across Istanbul’s main thoroughfare, İstiklal Avenue, and central Taksim streets. Police prevented people from gathering en masse for Pride using these checkpoints, as well as riot-control methods like tear gas and plastic bullets. Still, a few hundred people could gather in Cihangir and groups read press statements via Facebook live.

Below are stories from Pride-goers as they attempted to “pass” as non-participants through police checkpoints.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Onur Yürüyüşü’nde polisten alıktırma (!) testi,” kaosGL.org, 27 June 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24097

Tote bag, badge, colorful shirt, earring, scarf, sometimes tshirt, sometimes shorts, and sometimes only the way you look is enough! People who have passed the police’s “LGBTI+ test”, those who failed it, and those who’ll stay for summer classes tell their stories to KaosGL.

Foto: Şener Yılmaz Aslan / MOKU

Our country launches a new practice and people who wanted to attend the LGBTI+ Pride March had to compete to “pass.”

Police blockaded the whole Taksim area the day of the march and allowed people to enter Istiklal Avenue based on their “types” throughout the day, leading to farcical dialogues. Police forced a person wearing a rainbow pattern to strip, said “normal people can pass,” among so many others.

We asked people what they went through that day, the police’s reasons if they weren’t allowed in and what they experienced if they managed to enter the area, knowing it’s a problem if you’re naked and another problem if you’re dressed.

“I got in by hiding my shirt with my backpack”

Cüneyt is one of the lucky few who managed to pass through the police checkpoint. How he did that is like a summary of the day:

“Police saw the rainbow on my t-shirt and said on the police radio ‘it’s clear you’re supporting them [LGBTI+] through your t-shirt’. So I wore my backpack on the front and passed.

Another tactic to pass the police checkpoint is to stand together with both sexes. Most probably as a result of the police’s not knowing about bisexuality, varied sexuality and gender possibilities, and even more so about the fact that people attending this march can be heterosexual, Gülay was able to pass the checkpoint easily:

“I passed hand in hand with Barbaros. They did not say anything like ‘Maybe they are bisexual, maybe they are here for the march.’ So we entered freely.”

“We tried to look like a straight couple”

Elif applied the same method:

“As I’d entered [Taksim] in the morning, I was already in when the police cordoned the area off and started to choose people as they like. But in order to be able to report, I spent the whole day trying to look like a straight couple with a lubunya friend of mine, ignoring our friends we passed by. This way I was able to shoot certain cases of police violence and detention. And I was able to take a lubunya friend of mine to Istiklal, who was otherwise rejected by the police, telling him “come my love”.

Ask them about the colorful shirts

“We were three people and we were stopped by the police right at the entrance to Istiklal. Bedreddin was stopped because he was wearing a colorful shirt. Yes, this was precisely their justification. He said ‘it’s a color sensitive situation, you can’t enter Istiklal’. So after listening to the political defense for a while, I realized he won’t understand. I simply said: ‘What’s that got to do with anything, there is no green in rainbow.’ And the police opened the cordon.”

“Hold these guys!”

Hakan +Arda

“We sat for a while at a venue on the entrance to Istiklal. Then a friend of ours passed by and entered [through the police cordon]. As we tried to go after him, a police officer told another one ‘hold these guys’ and stopped us. I had a gray t-shirt, earrings and an orange bag on. So we went through Cihangir and entered the avenue from Galatasaray.”

“We were able to enter after hiding our stuff”

Deniz Buse

“My girlfriend and I came through nostalgic funicular from Karaköy. We were not allowed in Istiklal because of our earrings, bandanas and pins. ‘We are here on Eid al-Fitr, don’t bother us with this’ they said. We said ‘we won’t give them [the accessories]’. I said : ‘If I give them to you here, I will buy new ones from the shops on Istiklal anyway. They replied, ‘Then our friends will detain you and that’s it’. We said we won’t give them. They said ‘then we won’t take them’. We went back to Karaköy. We put all the stuff they didn’t allow in my girlfriend’s sunglasses case and left it on a construction site. We hid it. That’s how we went to Istiklal. We returned and took back our stuff afterwards.

“Your type is not allowed”

Başak’s dialogue with the police

“-You can’t enter.

-Why, is it just me who is not allowed?

-No, you and your friends.

-I don’t get it, why? What’s the deal?

-Your type is not allowed!”

Shoulder bag is a reason for not being allowed!

Erdem

“Five of us entered Istiklal. Our outfits were more or less similar. We all had a casual t-shirt and shorts. Only one of my friends and I had a shoulder bag and we were the only ones that were stopped. It was either the bag or us being too campy, I don’t know. After that I was rejected several times on my own.”

“They’re normal!”

Şevval:

“They stopped me. I asked, ‘Why can’t I pass, look, everyone else is in’. The police said ‘They’re normal’. I snapped like a princess. Eventually they said ‘please come in’.”

“The street is closed to you today”

Fırat!

“They didn’t let me in either. They stopped me right when I was entering the avenue and said ‘The street is closed to you today’. I asked ‘Who is we’ and they replied ‘LGBTI’. When I told them that I don’t understand, they said ‘Don’t understand, just move along’.

“My ID doesn’t say that I’m a faggot”

Ekin: “ We had pins that read ‘peace’. They said ‘Take them off, or you won’t get in’. When we said ‘It just says peace, we won’t take them off’, he asked for my ID. When told them that my ID doesn’t say that I’m a faggot, they stared at us and made way. We walked chanting slogans. We were caught near Demirören. But then we ran away when they were about to detain us. 10 minutes later we were able to re-enter.”

All of this is just a small portion of what happened on the day of the march. There are even more tragic stories on the part of the iceberg that remains below the surface.

Press Statement From the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee:

Our LGBTI+ Pride March that we miss celebrating, that we were going to celebrate for the 15th time today, has been banned by the Istanbul Governor’s office once again.

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As the 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we notified the Governor’s office about the time and place of our march, and requested a meeting 20 days ago, however, we have not received a response to our inquiry. The Governor’s office made a statement a day before our march, preventing our right to object, and announced that they banned our march, taking away our most democratic right.

It has been long known by all that Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week is celebrated in Turkey for the last 25 years during the last week of June with a Pride March taking place on the last Sunday of June [since 2003]. Making a press statements is a right, protesting is a right, organizing, objecting and resisting are rights; they cannot be subjected to permission.

The reasons listed on the Governor’s ban statement are the very reasons why we march. Yes, the call we made, “evidently, received very serious reactions from different segments of society,” however, the true reason for the reactions towards a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate. The lynch and threats posed by the aforementioned factions of society are not “serious reactions,” they are public-offense. The different sectors of society have reacted, yet society itself has been waiting for long to attend this march. Istanbul Governor’s office has shown that they stand by perpetrators and not society.

The Governor’s office has banned our march with the excuse to “protect the safety of the citizens, the participants in particular, along with tourists visiting the area.” Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide, preventing us from organizing and being visible, and encouraging the ones who are threatening us. Our security will be provided by showing how strong, how crowded, how brave we are. Our security will be provided by protecting the rights of all humans, without discrimination, and protecting social peace. Our security will be provided by recognizing us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom. Our security will be provided in a country where we can have LGBTI+ Pride March.

We are not afraid, we are here, we are not going to change. You are afraid, you are going to change, you are going to get used to it. We painted this street in rainbow for 12 years, said the freedoms word, showed the beauty of living and marching together to the whole world. We are here again, this time to show we will fight darkness for our pride.

We are the ones who declared the revolution of love and gender identity. We are the ones who are excluded, ignored, and yet resilient. We are not alone, we are not wrong, and not giving up by any means. Governors, governments, states change, we stay. These threats, bans, pressures will not stops us! We miss our march, we are not giving up on our march. We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the İstanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week, and we are proud. Be furious, you!

–25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
LGBTI+ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Plus. Last year, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week added the “+” to the end. Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee explains adding the “+” after the initial for Intersex in the past years due to the fact that “we say all the combinations in the rainbow exist in our movement and we aim to socialize people with the idea of not attributing a fixed identity to anyone by judging from the outside.”

 

What’s between us, for 25 years!: Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Begins!

As the saying goes, it all started with “a handful of people” and faced bans and obstacles, but as it reaches its 25th anniversary, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week brings thousands together. This time we question “what’s between us?” In search of that “what” throughout the week, there will be many free of charge events such as panels, forums, workshops and plays.

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Organized by volunteers and held with the solidarity of all participants, 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week events will take place in various venues with the theme “What’s in that distance between us?” between June 19-25. The week will end with the Pride March on June 25.

Celebrated throughout the world during June with various events and marches, Pride has been celebrated in Izmir, Mersin, Antep and Kocaeli in Turkey. Istanbul Pride Week will begin with the joy of these events and marches held in these cities.

The Turkish Language Association defines “distance” as “the farness that separates two things.” But does distance only separate things, aren’t there any examples in which it brings things together? The loves that we hold on to so dearly, our hands, our touch and our longing for each other are lined up through that distance. The power that we get from sharing, standing in solitude, being together despite all seeming hopelessness and desperation stands there. Our courage to own the words used to hurt us, the greatest proof that we still stand, and our joy and laughter echoing in the most remote parts of the city are also there. There, all are our bodies; tall, short, fat, thin, in various shapes, various images, various tastes which we sometimes cannot define, sometimes transcends all the definitions there are yet which breathe, orgasm, walk, live, exist. We are that “distance,” we share that “distance.”

In that “distance” we have been subjected to the same oppressions as well. First, there is the government trying to take down our associations and, for the last two years, attacking our march. In the distance between us and the government, there is the sexist, patriarchal law which refrains from catching the murderers of Hande Kader and Ahmet Yıldız. In the distance between us and the city there is the power which incarcerates us into ghettos and which shapes the city, the gentrification which takes our homes and neighborhoods away from us; and in the distance between us and the streets there are paramilitary groups who summon an attack on our marches and are supported openly by the government and the unfair law.

On top of that, there is a giant polarization which leads the people to intolerance, ostracizing the one who is not like the majority. This culture is now so deeply rooted, so strong, so well-established that it sneaks its way even into our circles of solidarity, affects our combat spaces. What is in that distance between us that divides, separates, angers us so much?

In such an age where solidarity is essential more than ever before, we think we should discuss the things that divide us and bring us together. In spite of all the oppression that we faced, there are gorgeous things in that distance which helps us exist in this city, this country, this society. To resist the despair that we live in and the inertia that we drift into, we suggest to hold onto each other.

Happy 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week!

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE 25TH PRIDE WEEK:

Our solidarity causes everything in society to enter into the interests of LGBTI+s and so into the Pride Week’s. Therefore in the week often described as “colorful”, there are two panels regarding the State of Emergency, an issue that is not that colorful. And in the three-day workshop on video activism will enable us to talk and learn about different ways of resistance and solidarity.

Participants coming from different LGBTI+ organizations in 18 cities Turkey-wide will share the local dynamics of the LGBTI+ movement on the aspects of organizing and practices of combat.

The LGBTI+ movement questions not only the discrimination between people but the relationship of the humankind with other species. In light of this issue, there will be a discussion on vegan politics based on eco-feminism/animal rights and a vegan picnic to create a space for vegan politics to be discussed.

Besides all these, there will be workshops, forums, Pride Week Exhibition based on passion, bodies, LGBTI+ culture and LGBTI+ spirituality and also panels and workshops on topics less discussed such as colonialism, being in jail and asexuality.

In most evenings throughout the program there will be plays. Poetry events and mural painting also take place during the program.

PRIDE WEEK PROGRAM:

http://tr.prideistanbul.org/anasayfa

www.facebook.com/istanbulpride

PHOTOS:  https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0ByhK9vIqeMica0NSZndhc0J2V2s (We kindly request the publisher to indicate the photographers’ names.)

INTERVIEWS AND PRESS INQUIRIES: Lara Güney Özlen 0536 437 41 61

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:

LGBTI+ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Plus. Last year, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week added the “+” to the end. Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee explains adding the “+” after the initial for Intersex in the past years due to the fact that “we say all the combinations in the rainbow exist in our movement and we aim to socialize people with the idea of not attributing a fixed identity to anyone by judging from the outside”.

About Pride Week: On June 28, 1969, gay and trans people rose against the oppression and violence that targeted them in the Stonewall Inn Bar in New York; trapped, the police came to bust the place and the protests and the conflicts spread to the streets for four days. This day, a turning point for the LGBTI+ movement, is celebrated all around the world in Pride Week. In Turkey it was first attempted to celebrate this day in 1993 as “Sexual Freedom Week”. But with a governorate ban, arrests and deportation of the foreign guests, the Pride March couldn’t happen. In the face of bans, the demands of and the support for the movement grew stronger and the first Pride March took place in 2003, ten years after the Pride Week had begun to be organized.  The march, which was participated in by only 20-30 people back then, grew incrementally. It is estimated that around 100,000 people joined the march in 2013. In 2015, the 13th Pride March was surprisingly disrupted by the police force. In the year 2016 there was similar police interference, and the interference was met both with the resistance on the streets and the reading of the press statement repeatedly all around the city. We are determined to continue the resistance because the streets are ours. The LGBTI+ movement with hope and tenacity, calls everyone to fill the streets on the June 25, 2017 for the 15th Pride March.

 

 

2017 Istanbul Pride Week Schedule is Announced!

2017 Istanbul Pride Week starts on June 19. You can find more information on panels, film screenings and special events that will take place during the Pride Week on this website: http://en.prideistanbul.org/events-cal/

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