Yıldız Tar

KaosGL: How does the state of emergency affect Turkey’s LGBTIs?

Kaos GL’s Seçin Tuncel speaks with activists involved in LGBTI policy-making to ask how Turkey’s state of emergency, declared after the July 15 failed coup attempt, affects the lives of LGBTI individuals.

Source: Seçin Tuncel, “LGBTİ’ler OHAL sürecinden nasıl etkileniyor?” KaosGL.org, 22 March 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23366

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Ayşe Panuş- Eğitim-Sen (Education and Science Workers’ Union) Istanbul No: 3 Branch LGBTI Commission: Rainbow against the One!

“The rainbow is liberation. With the rainbow against the [rule of] One”

The coup attempt of July 15, 2016 resurrected existing homophobia and transphobia against LGBTI public servants. Just as it was before the coup attempt, unionized LGBTI workers found themselves in an environment of nationalist, religious, conservative and militarist violence.

Even though the LGBTI movement continues its organized resistance through this period, the present climate resulted in the closure of the cracks that were opened in the workplaces and unions. The threats against and the targeting of LGBTI public servants via the press, were ignored by the unions and the answer of the union administrators to questions asked was “We have no LGBTI.” The union, heavily influenced by the conservative aspect of nationalist, conservative and militarist violence has abandoned LGBTI public servants both politically and with regards to social rights. Such institutional abandonment led the LGBTI public workers to a greater anxiety, as they were already forced to work hiding their identity.

After the declaration of the state of emergency, nationalist, conservative, militarist and male violence has escalated. Since government practices were eager for this drift, the expulsions and suspensions through government decrees resulted in the silencing of LGBTI public workers who have already been ignored politically within the union.

Yet, despite all attempts of homophobia and transphobia to close the cracks, LGBTI public workers do not refrain from making their voices heard. The unions should come together against nationalist, conservative, militarist, male and heterosexist impositions and build an LGBTI policy on this basis: rainbow is liberation, with the rainbow against the [rule of] One.

Yalçın Koçak- Lawyer for Pink Life Association: “We are under state of emergency, it shall be as we want”

Without a doubt, the “state of emergency” practice which has been going on since July 20, 2016 has had a negative impact on LGBTIs, as it did on many other sectors of the society. It should be stated that in such periods when security-based “unlawfulness” substitutes “the law,” the victimization of the disadvantaged, socially marginalized and othered groups increases.

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LGBTI Peace Initiative Established in Turkey

LGBTI Peace Initiative declares its foundation purpose to be against war, which stands for the continuation of discrimination, tyranny and violence against all those considered to be “other.”

Source: Yıldız Tar, “LGBT Barış Girişimi Yola Çıkıyor”, (“LGBTI Peace Initiative Established”), kaosgl.org, 24 August 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20068

LGBTI Peace Initiative, which believes peace to be an immediate necessity, declared “War and the violence of the palace is fed by militarism and a patriarchal mindset. As LGBTIs we reject this war. This masculine, patriarchal war.”

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The full text of the declaration is as follows:

We are setting out as the LGBTI Peace Initiative in the pursuit of peace, democracy and humanity

We have been dragged into a new wave of war and violence in the aftermath of the massacre that took place in Suruç on July 20. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who only two years ago declared “we will try every way for resolution. If the only way is to drink hemlock poison, we will drink that too in the pursuit of peace,” has now become the most public perpetrator of unrest. Erdogan’s illegal attempts to paralyze the political space clearly indicate the presence of a coup. The palace has taken democracy and peace as hostages. The failure to recognize elections, the arrest of politicians and proclaiming all who demand peace to be guilty are simply not acceptable. How many more have to die in order for people to understand that those who would like to postpone the possibility of peace will always lose?

We see war, which stands for the continuation of discrimination, tyranny and violence agaisnt all those who are considered to be “others,” as declared on us LGBTIs. It is impossible to talk about an ideal of equality or freedom without peace. We believe peace to be an immediate necessity for everyone. War and violence of the palace is fed by militarism and a patriarchal mindset. As LGBTIs we reject this war; this masculine, patriarchal war.

We demand an immediate policy return to a platform in which guns are silent. During the Gezi Resistance, we witnessed the power that emerges when we speak out collectively, listen to and reach out to each other. That is why we call for an immediate end to the deafening sounds of war drums. The resolution of the Kurdish issue is only possible through political understanding and peaceful dialogue. Military, police, guerilla and civilian casualties must immediately stop. We are certain that as a nonviolent and peaceful language emerges, humanity will prevail and only a handful of war hawks will object.

We, as the LGBTI Peace Initiative, took our first step by coming together against war, to defend humanity’s and nature’s right to life. We are determined to multiply the voice of peace. Only the combined scream of LGBTI and all other pro-peace individuals can stop the deaths, destroy the current environment of fear and build the peace. We set out with this belief. As LGBTIs who voice their opinion against war in every possible situation, we are commencing our efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire and eventually communal peace.

LGBTI Peace Initiative was formed by the coming together of various LGBTI solidarity associations and independent activists. Our aim is to communicate and organize peace. We will defend peace and humanity against those who want to sentence us to a lifetime of war. We call on all LGBTIs who wish to side with nonviolence and democratic conflict resolution to join our initiative and peace efforts.

Rampant Transphobia in Turkey: Trans Dentist Ece Loses Her Job But Is Defiant

Ece is a 41-year old dentist and a trans woman. A week ago, she lost her job, because her colleagues refused to work with her. Ece wants everybody to know that there is a trans dentist in Turkey.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Bir Trans Kadın Mükemmel Olmak Zorunda” (“A Trans Woman Has to be Flawless”), kaosgl.org, 23 August 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20063

In Turkey, being a trans woman is associated with one single thing: hate crimes. We associate trans women with bodies ruled by violence and life that resists violence. However, transphobia is not just hate crimes. Discrimination is ordinary and rampant. Making a living, finding accommodation, having access to medical treatment like everybody else are treated like excessive demands when they come from trans people.

Recently I received a phone call about this sort of discrimination. Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association told me about a 41-year-old trans woman who recently lost her job. Ece was fired from the clinic where she worked a week ago.

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I called Ece and introduced myself. Speaking hurriedly, she told me about herself and what she’d been going through. We scheduled an interview right away.

I first saw her in front of the French Cultural Center. She was sitting next to street musicians and listening to their music while waiting for me. We talked all the way down to Cihangir. She spoke with the palpable excitement of having finally found an audience.

“I thought I couldn’t find a job because I didn’t have experience”

Ece graduated from Marmara University in 2000. Two years later, she started working at the clinic where she was recently fired from:

“No one gave me a job back then except for them. At the time I didn’t understand what was wrong. I thought I couldn’t find a job because I didn’t have experience. The truth turned out to be different.”

Ece continued her work all the while knowing that something was wrong. Then she left for New Zealand, Thailand, the US, and the Netherlands. Back in Turkey, she returned to her former employer.

“The saddest part is not being accepted by my colleagues”

“I went back to my former employer because I had to: they were the only ones who treated me fine. I started immediately and went on for two years. At first, I felt accepted. Then I started putting on makeup. The other girl did too; why wouldn’t I? What mattered was my work. I wanted them to respect me the way I was and approach me knowing who I was. The truth is, no matter what I did, I wasn’t appreciated. Patients picked others over me.

“My colleagues called me ‘Bey’ [‘Mister’]. I asked them not to: I wanted them to simply call me ‘Doctor.’ The patients were confused by this.

“Finally my boss told me that he couldn’t tolerate the complaints about me anymore. He said we couldn’t work together anymore but it didn’t have anything to do with my work as a doctor. I offered to finish the scheduled work with my patients. He said no. I think the other doctors at work didn’t want me either. And that is the saddest part: that my colleagues would not want to work at the same place as me. I had to leave immediately.”

Ece reminds persistently that she was good at her job and that her boss acknowledged her skills too: “I love my job. I believe that I do it well. I’m certain that I’m not inferior to my colleagues and that I often approach my job more humanely than them. Money has never been the goal for me.”

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“Should I become a prostitute at this age?”

Having lost her job due to transphobic pressures, Ece asks if she is supposed to start prostitution for the first time to support herself. She doesn’t know what to do. On the other hand, she says she will start hormonal treatment in a couple of months. Hormonal treatment and the surgery to follow require money, a lot of money…

“I’ve always felt like a woman. I’ve always been trans but I’ve been lied to. Not one person told me that I was trans. And I didn’t consider myself trans either. Being gay and being trans are mixed up often. I think it has to do with the fact that most trans women are forced into prostitution. Even I believed that you weren’t trans if you didn’t do prostitution. Because I wasn’t a prostitute, I felt conflicted.

“I’ve been teased for acting like a girl, I’ve been lonely, I haven’t made friends. When you’re pushed into loneliness, you try turning into a man. I couldn’t see the truth that everybody else could. I’m really angry with myself.

“Being strong keeps you from seeing certain things clearly. I was not aware of my intelligence. I was not aware that I could perform pretty well. I tried to perform that I was a man. They thought I was a good performer, I thought I was terrible.”

“A trans woman has to be flawless”

I broach the topic of family. Without any reservation, she says she does not talk to them and goes back to discussing her employment:

“I haven’t talked to my family in 4 years. I was tired of hearing that I should get married every time I saw them. They were literally teasing me. My father passed away recently and I kept working even then. Nobody else would do that. I had to do it not to lose my job. Even though I didn’t talk to him, he was my father after all. You could say he was cold and heartless, but it’s more complex than that. A trans woman has to be flawless. Being average is not enough. So I am trying to be flawless. I try to conform to every situation. I even try to conform with my clothes, but I’m at my limit.”

Ece thinks she will face discrimination in any job:

“It won’t be different if I work as a sales clerk. They will tease me, stare at me, giggle, and complain to the boss. Now I understand why people go on to prostitution. I was mad at the people who chose prostitution but I think I understand them now. If you don’t have money, I don’t think there’s anything else for you to do.”

Ece explains that many trans women retreat into themselves because of their life experiences: “We shut ourselves in our homes. We shut ourselves off from the world.” And she asks:

“Is it okay when rock stars do it and not so when I do it?”

“Why am I harmful if I don’t bother anyone? What did I do to you? How have I done harm? Why do you care what I wear? Do I tell you what to wear? Is makeup for women only? Don’t men put makeup on too? Is it okay when rock stars do it and not so when I do it? Do you really have to be a rock star? The thing I want most is to be pretty. Nothing else. Why are they against beauty so much? What’s so wrong if we’re dolled up freely? I’m more comfortable with women’s clothes, that’s all.”

Ece says she stays strong despite everything and she will keep up the fight. I realize at that moment that I’m talking to an Amazon warrior like many other trans women. Her poise and words prove me right:

“They don’t like seeing a trans woman who has self-confidence. They don’t like seeing that we are strong despite everything. I want everybody to know that there is a trans dentist in Turkey. Knowing that would help the next trans doctor or dentist. We will free ourselves when we come together.”

Ece will continue fighting for her right to work. She will meet with the Chamber of Dentists and look for jobs with her open identity. Time will tell if her colleagues will show solidarity with a woman who has nothing left to lose except for her wish to tell the world that there is a trans dentist in Turkey.

Homophobic Attack in Datça

Yasin Keskin of Vegisso Kitchen suffered a homophobic attack in Datça. Another person alleged to be a plain-clothes police officer participated in the attack. The police who responded to the attack then mocked Keskin rather than catching the attacker.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Datça’da Homofobik Saldırı” (“Homophobic Attack in Datça”), KaosGL.org, 17 August 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20030

On the night of Saturday, August 15th, Vegan LGBTI activist Yasin Keskin suffered a homophobic hate crime in the town of Datça in Muğla province. Keskin, who first encountered disconcerting looks while dancing at the bar he went to have fun, later took a punch from an unknown person as he left the bar. Following this, a person alleged to be a plain-clothes police officer attacked Keskin with a pipe.

They saw him inside the bar and attacked outside

Keskin explained his experiences to KaosGL.org:

“We went to Datça for a one-day holiday as three friends. In the evening we went out to have fun and were dancing. While there I noticed that a group of men was giving us dirty looks. At the end of the night we came across a fight outside. A group of men was fighting.”

“At that point, although we had nothing to do with the fight one of the people from inside who had been giving us bad looks suddenly came up to me and smacked me. The area under my eye is still deep purple. After being hit I started yelling. The person who hit me ran away but then someone else started to attack me, this time with a pipe. Later the people around us said that the second attack was by an undercover police officer. And the bar owner, rather than helping us, threw us outside.”

Homophobic Discrimination from the Police

Immediately after the attack, Kesin called the police. He then recounted the attack to the police squad that came, but the officers laughed at him instead of taking his statement:

“The police came a while after I called them. I ran to the police car right away, but they didn’t pay attention to me. When I explained what had happened, the police and other people there laughed at me. I experienced violence, but they were preoccupied with making fun of me, probably because they were thinking, ‘What are we going to do with a fag?’” I said for them to take me to the police station and take my statement but they would not take me. They refused to carry out the procedure.”

Keskin reminded us that while he was living in Istanbul, he had faced violence from the police because of his homosexuality, and that following the homophobic attacks he has suffered in the past he again encountered discrimination at the police station and in the justice system. “Both because they laughed at me and because of my previous experiences, I distanced myself from the police,” he said.

“They were already watching you…”

While Kesin and his friends were trying to get away from Datça, two motorcyclists began following them. According to what Keskin explained, the motorcyclists’ words summarize the events of the night:

“The people inside were already watching you all. Be careful and get out of Datça. They will lynch you here. They are dangerous.”

Legal Precedent: “Houses where people reside cannot be sealed” in case against trans women in Antalya

In the court case that started after trans women’s houses in Antalya were sealed and then broken, the court ruled that “no matter what, sealing and therefore preventing the use” of houses where people reside is against legal principles.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Mahkemeden emsal karar: İkamet edilen evler mühürlenemez!”, (“Court’s decision as precedent: Houses resided in cannot be sealed”), kaosGL.org, 29 July 2015, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=19928

On 25 December 2014, the Antalya Governorate’s Presidency of Commission on Venereal Diseases and Anti-Prostitution ordered the sealing of houses where trans women live in Antalya, claiming that the house “provided place for prostitution”. On 30 December, a case was started against the trans women for breaking the seals.

Acquittal for the crime of “breaking seals”

In the trials conducted at the Antalya 20th and 4th Criminal Courts of First Instance, the trans women were acquitted of the crime of “breaking seals”. In both cases, the trans women stated that they were about to leave the house, that the process of sealing the house was illegal, that they were not in the house while it was being sealed and they moved after it was sealed. The court commissions accepted the trans women’s arguments and decided for acquittal.

Court: Sealing houses is against legal principles

The investigation led by the 4th Criminal Court of First Instance in Antalya has revealed that the sealing process was illegal. The court’s ruling serves as a precedent on house sealings and procedures. The reasoning for the acquittal is:

“The house in the report is where the defendants live and no matter what, sealing and therefore preventing the use of a place used for residence is to be considered contrary to legal principles. The reports on 25/12/2014 sealing and 30/12/2014 breaking the seal are not accepted as fitting the procedures of the scope of the Turkish Criminal Code’s Article 203. Therefore, it has been decided that the two defendants be acquitted of the predicate offense.”

“The administration’s arbitrary seal is a rights violation”

Lawyer Ahmet Çevik who worked on both cases evaluated the decision with KaosGL. Çevik said this decision is an important one for Turkey’s normalization and for sexual orientation and gender identity. He said:

“The court made the decision because it was against law’s general principles and not because of inadequate evidence. This is a decision that can serve as a precedent. We used to argue that home sealings are done arbitrarily by administrations and that this is illegal. Antalya’s 4th Criminal Court of First Instance has accepted this.”

“The decision is an important step against violations”

“Sealing people’s homes without a court order is both against law’s general principles and also against international conventions like the Istanbul Convention. With these kinds of seals, the right to private property, the right to privacy, the right to life, and the right to housing are violated. With this landmark decision, an important step has been made to end such rights violations.”

Cyber-attack against Kaos GL on Pride Day

Tar: “That the cyber attack was deployed simultaneously with the [police] intervention to the Pride is of great significance. That a cyber attack is deployed while LGBTIs who exclaimed ‘homosexuals will not remain silent’ on the streets were assaulted with tear gas means that there is a [coordinated] effort to silence LGBTIs.”

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Onur Gününde KaosGL’ye Siber Saldırı” (“Cyberattack against Kaos GL on Pride Day”), bianet, 29 June 2015, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/165656-onur-gununde-kaosgl-ye-siber-saldiri

Kaos GL was inaccessible for hours on 28 June due to a DDoS attack while police assaults continued on Istiklal Street.

Kaos GL’s editor Yıldız Tar spoke to bianet and, drawing attention to the simultaneous attacks on the streets by the police and cyber attacks online, expressed that the attack against LGBTIs’ news website is a planned assault on the freedom of speech and the right to be informed:

Yesterday, our Kaos GL website was targeted at the very moment police assaults began against the Pride Parade. The attack continued for a long time, preventing access to the website. At first we thought this to be a technical problem but out communications uncovered this to be an attack.

That the cyber attack was deployed simultaneously with the [police] intervention to the Pride is of great significance. That a cyber attack is deployed while LGBTIs who exclaimed ‘homosexuals will not remain silent’ on the streets were assaulted with tear gas means that there is a [coordinated] effort to silence LGBTIs.

Our website was unable to recover until late last night. This prevented us from communicating rights violations. We experienced violence on the streets as well as intervention with our right to speech.

We do not know who the assailants were, but we witnessed tweets pointing Kaos GL as a target and claiming ‘this is how we silence you’ Naturally, we have documented each of these instances.

We believe that this was a concerted attack. They tried to silence us and failed. Just as the rainbow flag was flying over everywhere yesterday, Kaos GL too continues its broadcast.

What is a DDoS attack?

DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) is an attack where a server receives considerable amounts of requests by many computers simultaneously to the point of inoperability. It does not [necessarily] mean that the server in question was breached.

Homophobic attack in Istanbul: “Faggots, nonbelievers can’t come in here”

Three young gay men were attacked by homophobic insult “faggots, nonbelievers can’t come in here” in Istanbul. Police came late to scene of crime and prolonged process of testimony. The hospital delayed treatment on the excuse that ‘we don’t have tomography’.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Homophobic attack in Istanbul: “Faggots, nonbelievers can’t come in here”,” KaosGL.org, 3 July 2015, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=19770

Just days after police attacks on Pride March and hate campaigns organized via social media, three young gay men were attacked at night in Istanbul on June 30.

Forum AVM security officers did not help the young people, who were attacked in Bayrampasa Forum, either.

Attackers ran away as police arrived late to the scene of the crime.

“We are not going to let you in Bayrampasa, you faggots!”

M.Ö, one of the attacked gay men, told the moments of the attack to KaosGL.org:

“We went to Bayrampasa Forum AVM, while passing a wall someone suddenly said ‘what are you looking at’. We were looking at our phones at that moment; I turned my back to look at my friends and escape from there but he suddenly jumped on us. That one screamed and two friends of his pounded us, they were also insulting us by saying that ‘we are not going to let you in Bayrampasa, you faggots!’, ‘we are going to kill and bury you in here’ and ‘faggots, nonbelievers can’t come in here.’

“Police came late, attackers ran away”

Indicating that the security in the mall only watched the attacks, M.Ö said police came late to the scene of the crime:

“It almost took one hour for the police to come. We went to the Bayrampasa police station, they did not take care of us for such a long time. They made us wait for hours recklessly without even taking our statements. While they should have taken us to the hospital for a battery report, they told us to do it ourselves. After Lawyer Rozerin Seda Kip’s talked to them on the phone, they took our statements but they did not want to file it as a hate attack. They tried to gloss over the event but at the end we were able to convey everything objectively.”

“It is directly related to the attacks on Pride March”

M.Ö indicated that the attacks are related to being shown as target and the hate campaigns that started before and after Pride March:

“It is directly related to the Pride March, insults against us are all because of it. Insults are parallel to the hate organized via social media. It is a place we went to before but we did not encounter any attacks like this before.”

Lawyer Kip: The recklessness of the police and the hospital is more disappointing

Lawyer Rozerin Seda Kip criticized the police by saying that they did not fulfill their duty because of their “reckless behaviors” and homophobic discrimination.

“The recklessness of the police and the hospital is more disappointing actually. Police took the victims to the station but did not take their statements for hours. I was able to talk to the officers after persisting for a long time and arguing with them. I told them that they should take their statements and take the victims to the hospital, otherwise; as the police, they will be responsible for the assault.”

“After nearly one hour, one of the victims called me and told me that they were still waiting for their statements to be taken and so, I told them that they should wait for the statements and reminded the police that it’s the police’s duty to go the hospital together to get report on the beating.”

Lawyer Kip summarized the discrimination at the hospital:

“First the victims went to the Bayrampasa State Hospital as wounded victims, the hospital tried to gloss over the event especially after the Pride March. Then the victims are sent back with an excuse that they don’t have tomography equipment. On the other side, the police did not want to take them to another hospital even though it’s their responsibility. These are serious violations and homophobic discrimination.”