Turkey

Armenian Trans Woman Bedi Keskin: “Many of my trans friends are jealous of my life”

We met with Bedi Keskin before the Trans Pride Parade on Sunday, June 21st. Keskin is an Armenian transsexual. In a sense, she is ‘the Other of the Other.’ At 51 years old, Keskin is one of the best stone setters at the Grand Bazaar.

Source: Maral Dink, “Çoğu trans arkadaşım hayatımı kıskanıyor” (“Many of my trans friends are jealous of my life”), Agos, 19 June 2015, http://www.agos.com.tr/tr/yazi/11930/cogu-trans-arkadasim-hayatimi-kiskaniyor

Transsexuals no doubt are at the top of the groups who suffer the most from discrimination, hate, and violence. Therefore, high on the list of topics underlined during the 6th Trans Pride Week that began earlier this week is the demand for hate crime laws. We met with Bedri Keskin before the Trans Pride Parade to be held on Sunday, June 21st. Keskin is an Armenian transsexual. In a sense, she is the Other of the Other. At 51 years old, Keskin is one of the best stone setters at the Grand Bazaar. Having begun her career as a man, she has continued the craft as a woman at the same place, in the male dominated space of the Grand Bazaar. And she has done so together with her brothers, nieces, and nephews. She has made herself accepted with the support of her family and her success in the business. There are many things she holds privately inside her. I asked her what I could and she shared what she could. At the end of our conversation, she said something I will never forget: “You have a life to live; I have a life to achieve.”

bedi_1

Let us begin with the years you began to feel like a woman and decided to become a woman…

You understand it at the age you begin to think. You feel as a child that you are not a boy. Even then, I used to wear my elder sisters’ clothes, use nail polish, and secretly put on lipstick. It was there at birth. I was born with the soul of a woman. I was 28 when I decided to unite my body with my soul. I underwent estrogen therapy for a year and a half, I had laser hair removal. The most difficult period is the transition period. I had surgery when I was 30.

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Call to Reject the Motion on Military Action in Syria and Iraq goes to Woman MPs from 38 Women’s Organizations

Contents of this post:
(1) “Call to Reject the Motion on Military Action in Syria and Iraq goes to Woman MPs from 38 Women’s Organizations” (Bianet)
(2) "Presentation on Women's Realities in War" (Women for Peace)

Source: “38 Kadın Örgütünden Kadın Vekillere ‘Tezkereye Hayır’ Çağrısı” (“Call to Reject the Motion on Military Action in Syria and Iraq goes to Woman MPs from 38 Women’s Organizations”), Bianet, 1 October 2014, http://bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/158878-38-kadin-orgutunden-kadin-vekillere-tezkereye-hayir-cagrisi

38 women’s organizations have called upon women MPs to reject the motion on military action in Iraq-Syria and to oppose the proposal to establish either a buffer zone or a security zone in the region.

38 women’s organizations have released a statement addressed at women MPs in Turkey regarding the Iraq-Syria motion:

“We know and have studied on the field, what women experience during war times. As such, we are aware that women should not give way to policies that will fuel wars. Do not accept the motion, oppose the buffer or security zone.”

We Insist On Peace

Source: Bianet

The statement drew attention to the problems that are likely to be encountered during cross-border military interventions. Women’s organizations emphasized that buffer or security zones are only ever initiated in uninhabited geographical locations, and yet, the proposed buffer zone includes Rojava. [Translators’ note: The population of Rojava is variously estimated as being between 2 and 3 million.]

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On the Dismissal of Police Officer F.E.: “These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”

Source: Burcu Karakaş. “Bu tür memurlar hemen ayıklanır!” (“These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”) Milliyet, 16 June 2014, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/bu-tur-memurlar-hemen-ayiklanir–gundem-1897738/

Police officer F.E. had been dismissed from office with a disciplinary investigation because he is gay. When he went to court to amend the decision, he received the following answer from the Ministry of Internal Affairs: “The law foresees that these kinds of officers are to be immediately cleaned out!”

Police officer F.E. was subjected to disciplinary investigation because he is gay and the investigation resulted in his removal from office. He went to the court to appeal the decision. His suit was rejected by every court that he applied to. Upon his appeal to the Council of State, he received a written response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Deputy Legal Advisor. The statement included scandalous phrases. One Ministry official stated the following: “It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage people’s confidence in the administration. The law aims to prevent these kinds of developments and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and thus eliminated from the instruments of administration.” Even though the Council of State Investigation Judge wrote a dissenting opinion noting the right to “private life,” F.E.’s plea was overruled by majority voting.

“Embarrassing actions”

In 2009, there was a denunciation against Istanbul police officer F.E. with allegations that he kept child pornography. The police raided his house based on the allegations, which turned out to be false. It was decided that there was a lack of grounds for legal action. However, certain documents were found on F.E.’s computer, which pointed to the fact that he is gay. This resulted in a disciplinary investigation on his behalf. The investigation ended with the Ministry of Internal Affairs High Disciplinary Commission ruling for F.E.’s removal from civil service due to the charge of “acting in shameful and embarrassing ways that do not agree with the qualities of civil service.” Upon this decision, the police officer went to the 8th Administrative Court in Istanbul to demand that the decision be reversed. The court maintained that the ruling was within legislation and rejected F.E.’s appeal.

After this rejection, F.E. appealed to the Council of State. The 12th Department of the Council of State studied and rejected F.E.’s appeal eight months ago, thereby approving the decision of his removal from office. At this time, F.E.’s lawyer Fırat Söyle took the appeal back to the 12th Department of the Council of State with a request to revise the decision.

Council of State Investigation Judge Şevket Polat argued that the actions, which resulted in F.E.’s removal from office, were to be considered within the framework of “private life” in accordance with the 20th article of the Constitution as well as the 8th Article of the European Convention on Human Rights. Polat thus put forth that these actions did not constitute a disciplinary breach and advised for an issue of stay order. However, members of the department unanimously rejected the judge’s request with the justification that “the reasoning presented did not constitute due grounds for a stay order.”

“He lives with a woman who is of legal age”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs delivered a statement in response to the appeal about revising the decision. The statement included the justifications for why F.E. had to be removed from office. The Ministry Deputy Legal Advisor Adnan Türkdamar authored the statement, which explains that there were times when F.E. shared the same living quarters with two men who are known to be gay. Also, F.E.’s living together with a woman was described as a “shameful and embarrassing action.”

The Ministry responded with the following in relation to the discrimination appeal: “The law aims for civil service to be carried out by credible, trustworthy and socially prestigious agents. It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage individuals’ confidence in the administration and result in undesirable developments in the relations between individuals and the administration. As such, the law aims to prevent such a development and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and that these kinds of officers are eliminated from the instruments of administration.”

HDP’s Tüzel Queries Violence Against Women and LGBTI People

Source: “HDP’li Tüzel, Kadın ve LGBTİ’lere Şiddeti Sordu,” (HDP’s Tüzel Queries Violence Against Women and LGBTI People,”) kaosGL.org, 19 April 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=16373

The People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) Member of Parliament from Istanbul Levent Tüzel brought the issue of “unjust provocation reductions” applied in the murders of women and murders based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Parliament. Tüzel pressed the Minister of Family and Social Policy, Ayşenur İslam, to answer questions on the issue and noted that 61 women had lost their lives in the first 100 days of 2014 to this violence.

“Why does the state not protect women?”

Tüzel pointed out that institutions of law, judiciary, and security are not on women’s side and asked Minister İslam the role of the government’s patriarchal, conservative, neoliberal social and economic policies that deny gender equality in the rising violence and murders of women despite legal amendments. He asked, “why does the state not protect women?”

Murders Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Tüzel asked for the removal of good conduct and unjust provocation reductions [from the Turkish Criminal Code] in crimes committed against women and people with different sexual orientations. He further asked whether there are plans to consider the murders of women within the scope of “voluntary manslaughter.” Tüzün also asked if there are any legal arrangements to ensure the employment of women who are the victims of violence, and who are staying the women’s shelters, within in the public and private sector.

Tüzel asked these questions to Minister İslam:

“How much longer will the state watch as women are murdered? Why is the necessary public protection of women not ensured?

“What is the role of your government’s patriarchal, conservative, neoliberal social and economic policies that deny gender equality in the rising violence and murders of women despite legal amendments?

“How many women’s shelters are there in Turkey? In the last ten years, how many women’s shelters were opened in which cities? Are there cities and districts without women’s shelters?

“How do women who are victims of violence continue living and stay protected after their 6 month residency in women’s shelters?

“Are you considering any legal arrangements to ensure the employment of women who are the victims of violence and who are staying the women’s shelters to be employed in the public and private sector?

“Does your Ministry have any plans to provide education on social gender in schools?

“Are you considering any changes in the Turkish Criminal Code to consider the murders of women, and murders based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity within the scope of “voluntary manslaughter,” to remove unjust provocation and good conduct reductions in crimes against women, and to not include these crimes within the scope of amnesty?

“Are you making any arrangements to include women’s organizations’ participation in public trials of crimes that are based on gender?”

Human Rights vs. LGBT Rights

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “İnsan Hakları vs LGBT Hakları,” (“Human Rights vs. LGBT Rights,”) Bianet, 28 December 2013, http://www.bianet.org/biamag/lgbtt/152398-insan-hayati-vs-lgbt-haklari

Among the thousands of Syrians staying in Turkey, there are certainly many LGBTIs.

What they say to Syrian LGBTs in Syria and in the countries where they seek asylum is “Human life is priority, not gay rights.”

Naturally they then ask: “Ours is not “human” life?”

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Legal Action Concerning the So-Called Treatment of Homosexuality

Source: “Homoseksüelliğin Sözde Tedavisi Hakkında Yasal Girişim,” (“Legal Action Concerning The So-Called Treatment of Homosexuality,”) The Psychiatric Association of Turkey, 26 December 2013, http://psikiyatri.org.tr/presses.aspx?press=372

To Our Esteemed Colleagues and Public,

As the Psychiatric Association of Turkey we continue our work against activities and implementations that are outside ethical or scientific boundaries. In this context, on such occasions that lead to a breach of professional boundaries, we take legal actions to protect both public health and our profession.

We would like to share with you the information that we took legal action and filed complaints with the relevant institutions such as the governorship, the board of advertisement and the public prosecutor’s office concerning the so-called medicine “homofin.” Homofin was put on the market through a website with the claim that the so-called medicine “treats” homosexuality.

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‘Homophobic’ decision from Van governorate

Source: Hasan Yoldaş, “Van valiliğinden homofobik karar,” (“Homophobic decision from Van govenorship,”) DİHA , 27 November 2013, http://www.yuksekovahaber.com/haber/van-valiliginden-homofobik-karar-117382.htm

[Update: The court has ruled that it is not “contrary to morality” for Ekogenç to be active in the area of sexual orientation.]

A lawsuit has been filed by the Van governorship against the Youth and Ecology Association [EKOGENÇ], which the youth in Van had attempted to establish in order to work on solutions for environmental problems. The reason for the lawsuit is the inclusion of the clause “It may work in the field of sexual orientation” in its charter. The co-chairs of the association, not allowed to be established because of Turkish Civil Code Article 56 that states, “No association may be formed for an object contrary to the laws and ethics,” stated that over 25 associations that include the same clause in their regulations have been established up to now and that this decision is intentional.

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