unjust provocation

Defendant accused of murdering trans woman Çağla Joker gets a sentence reduction because of his age, then a reduction for having been ‘unjustly provoked’

In the case of Çağla Joker, the victim of a hate-crime killing in Beyoğlu last April, the court reduced the defendant’s sentence to ten years on the grounds of “unjust provocation.”

Source: Burcu Karakaş, “Çağla Joker’in katil zanlısına yaş indiriminden sonra bir de ‘haksız tahrik’ indirimi” (“Defendant accused of murdering Çağla Joker gets a sentence reduction because of his age, then a reduction for having been ‘unjustly provoked'”), Diken, 1 October 2015. http://www.diken.com.tr/cagla-jokerin-katil-zanlisina-yas-indiriminden-sonra-bir-de-haksiz-tahrik-indirimi/

Trans women Çağla Joker and Nalan suffered an armed attack in Tarlabaşı on the night of 20 April [2014], and 25-year-old Çağla Joker, wounded in the chest, lost her life at the site of the incident. H.T., sentenced to 16 years and getting a reduction for being 17 years old, said in testimony given in court:

“We met two persons who we supposed were women. We negotiated. He said he was a man. I asked him to give me back the money I had paid. He said he would not return the money and cursed vehemently.”

Though tried for intentional homicide and life in prison, the court reduced the sentence to 10 years in prison due to reductions for “unjust provocation,” “good behavior,” and on account of him being younger than 18.

Not returning the 50 liras was an unjust provocation

In its decision, the judicial panel gave its opinion that Çağla Joker’s failure to return the money that the defendant had paid constituted an unjust provocation. The following phrases appeared in the reasoning:

“The defendant wanted the 50 liras back, and when at every stage he demanded its return, the deceased asserted that they would not return the money; confronted with the declarations of the deceased, the defendant came under the influence of anger and distress, and under the influence of anger and distress drew his weapon.”

These punishments will not be effective in ending the murders

Lawyer Fırat Söyle, commenting on the decision for Diken, emphasized that the sentence reductions being applied to defendants accused of hate crimes would not help to end the murders, and said:

“Inflicting very severe penalties on those who act out of the hatred engendered by government and society will not put an end to hate-crime killings, nevertheless, we demand that the severest penalties be inflicted on defendants accused of hate-crime killings, in the name of satisfying a sense of justice within this system. Unless the material and moral culture of the government system and of society changes, the punishments handed down to defendants will, unfortunately, be ineffective in ending these murders.”

No one has taken ownership of the case

On the other hand, reacting to the fact that no one has taken ownership of the case, Söyle continued as follows:

“The slogans that slam the government, patriarchy, and transphobia, and the statements made by the press, fade away before three days have passed, and even before seven days have gone by, they are forgotten. Çağla, and people like Çağla, were not organized, and their circle was not ‘extensive.’ Çağlas are destitute people, and those who are left behind to weep and mourn for them are those who are like them. In the newspapers they get a single mention on the third page at most. The reactions immediately following their murders end up buried in deep silence as the trials progress.”

*Translator’s Note: The Turkish language does not have gender pronouns and translation into languages with gender pronouns poses a challenge. In this translation, we have opted to use several pronouns to describe the victim. In statements by the perpetrator, we used the pronoun “he” because the perpetrator argues that the victim was male. In statements by the court, we used the pronoun “they” because the sentences do not make clear how the court views the victim’s gender. This choice does not reflect an openness by the court to identify the victim as the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” but to reflect that the Turkish language does not have gender pronouns. In the journalist Burcu Karakaş’s narration, we have chosen the pronoun “she” as the journalist works on women’s and LGBTI rights issues.

Turkish MP Tanal’s press conference for Trans Day of Remembrance

Mahmut Tanal, MP from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), held a press conference for Trans Day of Remembrance on November 20th to commemorate the victims of transphobic hate crimes.

Buse Kılıckaya and Selin Berghan from Pink Life Association and Melahat Deniz and Murat Koylu from Kaos GL Association participated in the press conference organized by Tanal for Trans Day of Remembrance, commemorating trans people who have been victims of hate crimes.

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You can’t call it a reform if the Penal Code excludes the LGBTI

Source: Yıldız Tar. 2014. “LGBTİ’siz TCK Düzenlemesine Reform mu Denir?” (“You can’t call it a reform if the Penal Code excludes the LGBTI”). Kaos GL. June 6, 2014. Accessed June 6, 2014. http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=16789

 

Attorney Hülya Gülbahar evaluated the proposed changes to the Turkish Penal Code apropos sexual assault: “This is social engineering. LGBTIs are intentionally being forgotten, ignored. How can one call it a reform while excluding LGBTIs?”

The blanket bill* of changes to the sections of the Turkish Penal Code concerning sexual assault against women and children have been debated quite a bit and are still being discussed. Women’s rights organizations stated that the proposed changes will ease punishment for a number of crimes and will set free many rapists and abusers.

Flirt is becoming a crime

One of the problems under debate is the section of the proposed changes that increases prison sentences for relations between youths aged between 15 and 18. Women’s rights organizations have emphasized that this proposal “incorporates the act of flirting into the definition of a crime.”

The organizations stated that youth flirting and “underage and forced marriages” are two separate issues. “Neither the society nor the laws should be introduced to such a conceptual confusion on this issue. It is a shared responsibility for all of us to protect children from abuse; forbidding youth from expressing sexuality is a conservative policy that would produce new social rights violations.”

In the wake of the debates and the objections to the administration’s attempt at “conservatization” and “social engineering,” Attorney Hülya Gülbahar evaluated the proposal from an LGBTI perspective.

How can one call it a reform while excluding LGBTIs?”

Gülbahar, who noted that while the administration is discoursing about protecting women and children, it is actually enacting legislation in the opposite path, stated:

“Yet again, we are debating the Turkish Penal Code. The administration talks about ‘protecting’ women and children but there is no mention of crimes committed against LGBTI individuals! Yet, the Turkish Penal Code defines and regulates crimes. It is necessary for individuals to be protected from crimes while not being subjected to discriminatory practices. Yet, in this package of so-called “reformation,” there exists not a single word regarding LGBTIs. Just a few days ago,a defendant was rewarded with “provocation” and “good behavior” in the case of a trans murder. How can one call a proposed change in laws “reform”  when it does not incorporate the rights of LGBTI individuals, whose humans rights, including that of freely walking down the street, are being violated systematically?”

The same tune since 2005!

Gülbahar noted how sexual orientation and gender identity were excluded from the 2005 anti-discrimination law proposal:

“We experienced the same debate with the ruling party, the AKP, in 2005. We succeeded in adding an amendment against discrimination against LGBTI individuals to the proposed legal changes after intense struggle and extensive effort. But they removed this amendment from the final revision of that proposal… And so, not only were LGBTIs expunged from protection under the Turkish Penal Code, but also the society received a message that legitimized all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals.”

LGBTIs are intentionally disregarded”

Gülbahar, who noted that LGBTIs are intentionally being disregarded, evaluated these practices as the product of a certain social engineering project and added:

“They are yet again effacing the topic in the package of Turkish Penal Code changes being debated in the parliament. This is because the desire is for the continuance of the ongoing discrimination and violence. Indeed, regarding sexual crimes, there exists in this proposal an open ended medicalizing emphasis of “illness” that may lead to surgical castration. With regards to theft and drug-related charges, the punishments are extremely heavy. These are the product of a social engineering project… It is also a necessity of such social engineering to maintain silence on all sorts of identity-based crimes against LGBTI individuals. An intentional forgetfulness/ disregard… A dangerous silence…”

 


Translator’s Note:

  • “Torba yasa tasarısı / değişikliği,” here translated as “blanket bill of changes,” is a type of proposed changes to laws and regulations on a range of diverse areas, rather than a specific legal issue. In Turkey, as in abroad, this political strategy is employed often when the proposed changes to law include controversial items that would not be approved by themselves or when some changes, often buried into the “bag of changes,” take away certain rights from citizens or enable governmental and/or corporate corruption, while others, often emphasized during the promotion of the “bag,” provide changes perceived to be positive.

Killing a Trans is Reason for Reduced Sentences

Source: Burcu Karakaş, “Trans Öldürmek İndirime Gerekçe,” (“Killing a Trans is Reason for Reduced Sentences,”) milliyet, 3 June 2014, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/trans-oldurmek-indirime-gerekce–gundem-1892227

Soybozkurt, a felon who murdered a trans woman in Avcılar and for whom the prosecutor asked for a sentence of life in prison was given a reduced prison term of fifteen years.

Regarding the case of B.Ü., the trans woman beaten to death in 2013 in Avcılar (Istanbul), the court issued a reduced penalty on account of unjust provocation and good behavior. As the reason for the reduced sentence, the court cited the possibility that the felon’s statement might be true. The felon had claimed in his statement that “he beat the victim in anger because she was a transvestite and she propositioned him.”

Seda (B.Ü.), the trans woman, lived in her friends’ apartment at Avcılar Meis Housing Complex, which was the site of attacks against trans residents and where the apartments of trans residents were sealed for allegedly being used for prostitution. B.Ü. died after she was found beaten on the street on 01 March 2013. Ramazan Soybozkurt, who was tried for murder, claimed that he did not intend to murder the victim, but he beat her upon getting upset by her proposition.

The verdict was issued on February 26, 2014 after the trial at the Bakırköy Fourth Criminal Court for Aggravated Crimes. The verdict cited as the reason for the reduced sentence the victim “being a transvestite.” The convicted felon Soybozkurt was given a reduced sentence due to provocation taking into account that “his statement might be true.” His sentence was reduced from life in prison to eighteen years; his prison term was further reduced to fifteen years for “good behavior.”

“They think it is entirely reasonable”

Fırat Söyle, the lawyer, reacted to the verdict by calling attention to other similar court verdicts for trans murders. He stated: “This is a verdict far from justice. The felon’s statement is not an unheard of defense. Courts find such statements as “they propositioned,” or “they propositioned for anal sex;” “I thought they were a woman” all as entirely reasonable defenses that warrant reduced sentences. If the murderers do not confess to their crimes, it is even possible that they may be acquitted.”

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?”

Reasoned Verdict in the Court Case of Roşin Çiçek: Killing Someone Because of Their Sexual Orientation is Unacceptable

Source: “Roşin Çiçek Davasında Gerekçeli Karar: Cinsel Yöneliminden Ötürü Öldürülmesi Kabul Edilemez,” (“Reasoned Verdict in the Court Case of Roşin Çiçek: Killing Someone Because of Their Sexual Orientation is Unacceptable,”) kaosGL.org, 20 Mart 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=16113

The court announced its reasoned verdict in the case of Roşin Çiçek, who was killed by his father and two uncles in Diyarbakir in July 2012 with the justification that he was a homosexual.

The reasoned verdict for the trial held on February 10, 2014 sentencing murderer father Metin Çiçek  to aggravated life in prison and the murderer uncles Alican Çiçek and Şeyhmus Çiçek to life in prison, states that it is unacceptable to violate the right to life on the basis of sexual orientation. Unlike many other murder cases that involve homosexual and trans people, there was no reduced sentencing for the convicted based on unjust provocation.

The verdict stated that Roşin Çiçek was subjected to mistreatment and insults by his father because of his sexual orientation and ran away from home because he was beaten. The court also drew attention to the fact that Roşin Çiçek, who had found a job in a maritime company in Mersin, was fired after his mother met with his employer.

Below are some of the headlines from the reasoned verdict of the Diyarbakir Third Criminal Court for Aggravated Crimes:

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The Rights Violations Against LGBT People: Selected Case Analyses

Source: Sosyal Politikalar, Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği. (Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) LGBT Hak İhlalleri: Emsal Dava Analizleri (The Rights Violations Against LGBT People: Selected Case Analyses.) Istanbul: Punto Baskı Çözümleri, 2013. Available at: http://www.spod.org.tr/turkce/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/emsal-dava-analizleri-son1.pdf   

The Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association has been working in the field of access to law and justice since it was founded two years ago. We have organized educational workshops on LGBT rights for lawyers in order to strengthen LGBT people’s methods of accessing justice. We have also given legal aid to LGBT people whose rights have been violated. Our other work includes tracking legislation, participating in the New Constitution drafting process, and pursuing selected cases.

This report includes case summaries and analyses of SPoD’s selected cases. The selection has been made according to the LGBT public’s key issues. Cases based on the frequent violations of LGBT people’s right to life, work, and housing have been chosen. Emphasis has been placed on joining cases as joint plaintiffs while working with lawyers, NGOs, and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) for positive results. Furthermore, the media has been lobbied for the selected cases to ensure the flow of correct and effective information to the public and to make sure that victims are not doubly victimized by the media’s homophobic/transphobic language. A legal battle has been waged against the “hate language” produced by the media in general. Therefore, we did not focus solely on the legal aspects of the cases but also on their background in order to change the biases that lead to rights violations.

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