Gay Middle East Web Site: http://www.gaymiddleeast.com/
More information about Islam & Homosexuality can be found at: www.al-fatiha.org
Other articles of interest can be found at: groups.yahoo.com/group/al-fatiha-news
Queer Muslim magazine: Huriyah
Gay Islam discussion groups:
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Gay Turks tearing down walls in Berlin Coming out can still be perilous, except for one night a month
by Deborah Cole, (AFP) Senior Culture Writer
Two men with black moustaches and muscle shirts dance cheek-to-cheek as a group of drag-queen belly dancers mount the stage. A rousing mix of Turkish, Arabic, Greek and Israeli music throbs from the speakers. "Gayhane (Gay Space)," the monthly party for Berlin’s burgeoning gay Turkish community, has grown so fast since it was founded six years ago that its venue in the diverse Kreuzberg district can barely contain the partygoers.
A winding line of lesbians, gays, transvestites and transsexuals outside the SO36 venue has become a fixture the last Saturday night of each month on Oranienstrasse, the main drag in Kreuzberg. Organizer Hakan Tandogan, one of the renowned cross-dressing belly dancers, says the queue out front is a sign that at least for one night a month, gays have an accepted public role in Germany’s large Turkish community. "If we were a few streets north or south of here, I’d have my face beaten in," said Tandogan, dressed in a revealing black lace number with earrings as big as saucers.
"Here, I feel free and safe." Over a vodka tonic at SO36 as the party was starting, Tandogan explains the battle he and other gay Turks have fought for acceptance. "In the beginning – we’re talking eight years ago – everybody led a double life," he said, referring to gays passing themselves off as straight, often in the context of a marriage, and living out their homosexuality in secret. "But the more there are of us who have come out, the easier it is for people to see they are not alone. Growing up, I thought I was the only one."
Tandogan is part of a growing number of homosexual Turks who consider Germany – home to 2.3 million Turkish immigrants – something of an oasis where they can live openly. The number of Turkish gays and lesbians in Germany who are "out" is estimated at up to 15,000. But the count of those still in the closet is thought to be far higher. Although there is a tiny homosexual minority in Turkish cities such as Ankara and Istanbul, gays who know the scene say the deeply conservative society considers homosexuality at best a disease.
Many in Germany’s Turkish community – most of whom are descendants of guest workers who arrived in the 1960s – come from rural regions like Anatolia where being openly gay would be unthinkable.
Hakan Tan, a journalist who moved to Germany at the age of 14 and is still in close contact with his family in Turkey, said it was unrealistic to hope a predominantly Muslim country could match Western Europe in its sexual tolerance – yet. "You can’t expect Turkey to be as far along as Western Europe. The gay and lesbian movement has only existed there for the last 10 or 12 years. It’s all pretty new," said Tan, 37, who had his coming-out in Germany two decades ago.
The German scene now has all the fixings of a community – websites, AIDS help groups, magazines and even its own float at Berlin’s giant annual gay pride parade. But as rosy as things can seem in anything-goes Berlin, Turkish gays and lesbians say they still are hit by discrimination on several fronts. "We still face racism in the (gay) scene," Tan said, lamenting that Turks are often viewed as "pickpockets or call-boys." "There are still loads of gay bars that don’t even let Turks in the door," Tandogan added.
He said Turkish gay men in particular are also often fetishized in the German gay scene, falling into the category of the "exotic lover" to be seduced but never considered a potential partner. And for many, there is still the threat of severe reprisals from relatives who learn they are gay, including violence, expulsion to Turkey and forced marriage, said Deniz Guvenc, a lesbian who works with a Berlin-based self-help group for homosexual Turks.
News from Kaos – a gay and lesbian organization based in Turkey <firstname.lastname@example.org>
June 1, 2004
We, gays and lesbians, are demanding protection under new Turkish Penal Code
Gay and lesbian activists from Lambda Istanbul visited Turkish Parliament on May 24, 2004 to call for changes in a Turkish Penal Code proposal in order to amend articles that discriminate against gays and lesbians. Representatives of Lambda Istanbul met with Republican Peoples Party deputy from district of Nigde, Orhan Erarslan, a member of the sub-commission in charge of new Turkish Penal Code proposal. During the meeting, the spokesman of Lambda Istanbul, Oner Ceylan,
demanded the inclusion of gays and lesbians among the groups that are protected by the Turkish Penal Code.
Ceylan emphasized the sentences for crimes perpetrated against gays should not be reduced by the court. He also added that laws should be further revised to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. (So far the only inclusion of gays and lesbians rights in the new Penal Code is Article 124 which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.) A transvestite named Hulya demanded equal opportunity for employment and asked for opportunities so that they wouldn’t have to be sex workers only. Republican Peoples Party (CHP) deputy Erarslan said that the sub-commission completed its Penal Code draft, but he would definitely pass the requests of gays and lesbians. He also added that preparations for the Turkish Penal Code should involve all portions of society, adding that they hoped the new Turkish Penal Code would satisfy the concerns of everyone.
The Lambda representatives issued a statement (see below) to the press at the Dikmen door of the Turkish Parliament before leaving the building.Kaos GL is a gay and lesbian organization that also publishes a bi-monthly magazine to cover Turkey.
Please refer any questions to: email@example.com
You can follow our up-to-date news about GLBT rights in Turkey from our web site:
June 5, 2004
Lambda Istanbul and Kaos GL Issue Statement of Changes in Turkish Laws
During the visit to Turkish Parliament on May 24, 2004, gay and lesbian activists from Lambda Istanbul and Kaos GL called for changes in a Turkish Penal Code proposal in order to amend articles that discriminate against gays and lesbians. They issued a statement to the press at the Dikmen door of the Turkish Parliament before leaving the building:
* It is a great improvement that the phrase, sexual orientation, was added to article 124, which is about discrimination. Discrimination based on sexual orientation will be considered a crime from now on. Discriminating against homosexuals when accepting employees will also be a crime. We believe, laying off, preventing promotion, exile, and forced resignation should also be added in this article.
* Also, the phrase sexual orientation was not added to article 3, which regulates equality before justice and law. We regard this as a contradiction within the draft.
* Homosexuality should not be regarded as provocation
* Crimes against homosexuals can be subject to a reduced punishment. The article should be restructured as to prevent reduction in the punishment of crimes committed against persons of homosexual inclination such as usurpation, attack, injuring or murder.
* The abstruse expressions about the morals of a society in the laws are usually used against homosexuals. Such articles should be reworded to prevent wrong interpretations.
* We demand that the word, exhibitionisms removed from article 227, which regulates shameful acts. Also article 228 about obscenity is very vague on what is obscene and what is not. We propose that sexual exploitations used instead of obscenity. The _expression, unnatural sexual behavior should also be lifted because it is vague.
* We want the expressions, sexual orientation, and sexual identity to be included into article 79, which defines genocide, and article 80, which regulates other crimes against humanity.
* We demand that the age of consent for sexual relations is reduced to 15.
* We propose that article 218 about thought crimes lifted. _Expression of opinion should not be regarded as a crime.
Kaos GL is a gay and lesbian organization that also publishes a bi-monthly magazine to cover Turkey. Please refer any questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org You can follow our up-to-date news about GLBT rights in Turkey from our web site: http://www.kaosgl.com/english/index.php
December 20, 2004
EU: an opportunity for LGBT rights in Turkey ILGA-Europe urges the EU to include the rights of LGBT people in the human rights monitoring process and as a part of assessing Turkey’s preparedness to join the Union On 17 December 2004, leaders of the European Union agreed to start membership negotiations with Turkey in 2005. Although the negotiations might take up to 15 years and there is no guarantee that Turkey will enter the European Union, this is a significant development in relations between the EU and Turkey.
ILGA-Europe urges the EU to include the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people in the human rights monitoring process and as a part of assessing Turkey’s preparedness to join the Union. Currently the Turkish legislation does not provide protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Turkey remains the only European NATO member state that bans LGBT people from joining the army. The army still refers to homosexuality as to a psychological disorder. Patricia Prendiville, ILGA-Europe Executive Director, said: "I hope the EU will pay serious attention to the human rights situation generally and to the human rights of LGBT people in particular when negotiating Turkey’s accession to the EU. I also hope that the negotiations will stimulate the Turkish authorities to comply with the EU standards on LGBT rights and adopt necessary laws banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity."
Via: "Kaos GL Turkey" <email@example.com>
January 17, 2005
Gays in Turkey want to be visible
Turkey: A purgatory for gays:
"Regarding the problems that gays have been experiencing due to their gender identities; Turkey is neither heaven, nor hell, says Ali Erol, an activist from Kaos GL, a civil society initiative that aims for the liberation of gays in Turkish society. Kaos GL is a member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). ILGA is one of the associations of which the European Union takes its reports into consideration concerning Turkey`s membership negotiations.
Kaos GL has been publishing Turkey`s first and only lesbian and gay journal, Kaos GL, since September 1994. Erol and Umut Güner are two names who have been struggling since then in order to expand a space for gays in Turkey to breathe. Erol said being gay has never been openly listed as a crime in Turkish laws as it was in Romania, the newcomer to the EU. Nevertheless, it didn`t mean that everything was fine for gays in this society. Illusions: "It leads to an illusion when looking from Western countries, said Erol. Concrete problems and barriers for gays are actually being observed in daily life in Turkey. They are being dismissed from work, thrown out of their houses or student dormitories because of their gender identities. The matter for gays in Turkey is in the public realm, Erol said.
"You first need to exist in that public realm where the problems occur. It`s a matter of becoming visible as individuals. Güner called attention to a different dimension of the matter at this point. He said most of the gays in Europe have been concentrating on the Muslim identity of Turkish society.
"The European organizations are generalizing the issue on the grounds of Turkey`s Muslim dominated culture. Whereas there’s actually no monotheistic religion that`s tolerant to gays, said Güner. Gays living in Turkey are being subject to humiliation, exclusion, threats and violence in houses, streets, schools, work places, hospitals, public and private institutions, added Erol.
It is a country where once a transsexual singer, Bülent Ersoy, was elected by the people as “the women of the year and trans-gendered singer, the late Zeki Müren, was elected as “the man of the year. However it`s the same country where the head of the military coup d`etat, namely Kenan Evren, banned Ersoy from performing on stage for many years immediately afterwards the coup in 1980. That`s Turkey where public opinion surveys demonstrate that people don`t want to have a neighbor who describes himself as gay or lesbian, despite honoring Müren with a title “Sun of the Art.
The European institutions should be involved with these kinds of problems instead of problems stemming from the principles of religion. A side component of popular culture: One can easily observe the difference of attitudes in Turkey along recent years regarding gay identities and the way popular culture approaches these characters in soap operas, women`s magazines or television shows.
It`s not easy to say if this is really an improvement or not, because most of these characters are so far away from the ordinary lives of ordinary individuals as they don`t have to deal with the problems that an ordinary gay somehow has to face. The question should be asked, “Is the popular culture reflected in life? Does it offer an opportunity for gay individuals to set their own existence? Erol said. If one affirms that gays have a problem of their right to live in this society, then one should also admit that these problems can`t easily be separated from what people in Turkey experience as the violation of their human rights. Erol recalls a friend of him saying, “I have to hide in Istanbul that I`m Kurdish and I have to hide in Batman that I`m gay.
January 20, 2005
Equal rights: First step for protection in Turkey–`If the sexual orientation phrase was included in Article 10 of the Turkish Constitution that arranges citizens` equality before justice and law, it would sort out other legal deficiencies as well,` says Ali Erol, an activist from Kaos GL. It has gradually become an ordinary part of page three articles in Turkish daily newspapers that gay-lesbian people are being murdered because of their gender identities.
Moreover, murderers receive reduced punishment as homosexuality is regarded as a provocative element. This is probably an extreme example of what gay-lesbians are experiencing in Turkey. However, Umut Güner and Erol (both from KAOS GL) emphasize that as long as the necessary changes in the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) regarding the basic human rights of gay-lesbians are not carried out, it won`t be possible to say that gays or lesbians have no obstacles for the right to live in Turkey.
"If the `sexual orientation` phrase was included in Article 10 of the Constitution that arranges citizens` equality before justice and law, it would sort out other legal deficiencies as well, said Erol (from KAOS GL) and added that they were not asking for “special rights but were asking for justice and equality.
Here are some basic legal points underlined by the gay-lesbian activists:
* Turkish legislation does not provide protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The sexual orientation phrase should be in the articles arranging the protection of people who don`t fit into general gender norms of society.
* Discrimination practices that gays-lesbians are facing because of their sexual orientation should be legally charged. Redundancy, preventing promotion, exile, directly or indirectly forced resignation should be included in the TCK (Turkish Penal Code) for these practices.
* The reduction in the punishment of crimes committed against gays-lesbians such as usurpation, attacks, injury or murder, should be lifted.
* The obscure expressions concerning the morals of a society in the laws are usually used against gays-lesbians. Such articles should be reworded to prevent wrong interpretations. – The word ‘exhibitionism’ should be removed from the article. The article about ‘obscenity’ is vague as well on what is obscene and what is not. `Sexual exploitation’ should be used instead of obscenity. The expression, `unnatural sexual behavior’ should also be lifted because it is vague.
Kaos GL is a LGBT organization that also publishes a bi-monthly magazine to cover Turkey. Please refer any questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org You can follow our up-to-date news about LGBT rights in Turkey from our web site: www.kaosgl.com/english
"Kaos GL Turkey" <email@example.com>
March 1, 2005
A First for Turkey’s Gays and Lesbians: diplomats attend LGBT conference
On February 2005 for the first time Turkish government officials and embassies of Western countries attended a series of conferences concerning issues regarding Turkish gays and lesbians.
On February 15, 2005 a series of conferences were realized in Ankara to provide information to the Turkish and foreign public about “Human Rights Seminars for the LGBT Community in Turkey Project”.
“ Human Rights Seminars for the LGBT Community in Turkey Project” started in the spring of 2004. For 10 months Kaos GL, with the help of the United Kingdom Embassy, realized meetings in the cities of Diyarbakir, Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul. These meetings were organized in order to bring together gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender individuals with human rights activists.
This conference series is significantly important for the LGBT movement in Turkey because:
* For the first time the current Turkish government directly acknowledged and sent its representatives to a conference related with LGBT issues. MEP Faruk Unsal (Justice and Development Party) who is a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Parliament and one representative from Ministry of Health attended the conference series.
* For the first time embassies from different Western countries attended the conference regarding LGBT issues either by directly attending or sending one of their representatives (United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, USA, Germany, and Norway). Also representatives from European Commission and EU Reproductive Health Program were present.
* International political, human rights and LGBT organizations sent their representatives including: UN HIV/AIDS Advisor, World Health Organization, Turkish Psychologists Association, Amnesty International, General Secretary of ILGA (International Gay and Lesbian Association).
* There were also representatives from Turkish human rights organizations, women rights organizations, academics and the media
Why Did KAOS GL Organize A Series Of Conferences For Thr Foreign Public Concerning Issues Regarding Gays And Lesbians In Turkey?
The Ankara Agreement, which was signed on 12 September 1963, initiated relations between the European Union and Turkey. On December 17, 2004, 25 EU leaders approved the European Commission’s recommendation and decided that communication could begin for European Union membership on October 2005. Kaos GL believes that the European Union must recognize the importance of gay, lesbian and transgender equality when negotiations with Turkey begin on October 2005.
Previously, ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, Patricia Prendiville also said that she was hoping the process of joining the EU would help push Turkey in the right direction of LGBT equality. In a press conference she stated: “I hope that the negotiations will stimulate the Turkish authorities to comply with the EU standards on LGBT rights and adopt necessary laws banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Although EU and some human rights organizations frequently criticized Turkey’s human rights record, the issue of sexual diversity was often overlooked perhaps because there is no penalty for homosexuality in Turkish law. Kaos GL is calling not only the European Union but also the LGBT and human rights organizations to offer more support to the Turkish gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. Therefore we, Kaos GL, decided to inform the embassies, non-governmental organizations and the media about the problems of Turkish gays and lesbians. From now on Kaos GL will try to provide more information about LGBT issues in Turkey to non-Turkish political, human rights, health and LGBT organizations as often as possible.
Kaos GL Turkey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
14 March 2005
A New Step for Visibility of Turkish Lesbians and Transgenders
For the first time lesbians and transgenders from Lambda Istanbul joined the rally for International Women’s Day.
Since 2001, Lambda Istanbul and Kaos GL in Ankara participated in different demonstrations including May 1st Labor Day Celebrations and anti-war demonstrations. Demonstrators from these two LGBT groups also marched with women’s rights groups on September 15, 2004 in front of the Turkish Parliament to protest the proposed legislation, which gives no reference to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
And this year for the first time lesbians and transgenders from Lambda Istanbul joined the rally for International Women’s Day. The banners carried by lesbian and transgender activists read as follows:
“ Discrimination based on sexual orientation is a human rights violation!”
“ We, lesbians, exist!”
“ You cannot tell us, transvestites, how to live!”
“ Being a transgender is not being obscene!”
“Mom. I am a lesbian.”
“ No to forced prostitution!”
“The streets are ours!”
Here is an excerpt from flyers that lesbians and transgenders distributed on the streets of Istanbul during the rally:
We, the lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals, were always with you at the past International Women’s Day Rallies, however we were not visible. This year we are walking under Lambda Istanbul banner and we are waiting for other lesbian, bisexual, transvestite and transsexual friends to join us.
We, the lesbian and bisexual women, are doomed and discriminated because the people we love are women as well. Men see the women as their property and they see us a threat to their domination.
We, the transvestite and transsexual women, have faced discrimination in our daily lives because we refuse to be male. We do not receive any help in any aspect of our life therefore we have no option but to become sex workers. We always face obstacles when looking for a house or to bury a friend of ours. Many people do not accept that we are women, and we are here to make our voice heard.
We want discrimination based on sexual orientation to be a crime in the new Turkish Penal Law!
Hate crime murders are politic murders!
Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders are neither alone nor wrong!
Kaos GL is a LGBT organization that also publishes a bi-monthly magazine to cover Turkey.
Please refer any questions to: email@example.com
April 21, 2005
Press Statement about Turkish Penal Code
On April 1, 2005 the government decided to delay the implementation of the new Turkish Penal Code, which does not recognize the existence of Turkish people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). We are wondering what will change when the law goes into effect on June 1, 2005.
None of the demands we brought up during our face-to-face meetings with the Justice Commission members were considered. We, the Turkish lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, want to live in our country without being outlawed, stigmatized and discriminated against.
We urge the government to take the necessary action to amend the Turkish Penal Code to:
* Ban and criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation
* Remove the article penalizing consensual sexual relations between young people of 15 – 18 years of age. (which conflicts with the Children’s Rights Protocol and the Global Declaration on Human Rights, both ratified by Turkey)
* Amend the “obscenity” article by clearly defining acts of “obscenity”
Existing Situation In Turkey:
We, the Turkish lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, are trying to explain the larger community that homosexuality is not only about sex and sex is not only about pornography.
Although in Turkey homosexuality was never legally a “crime” nor a “disease”, the institutions of the Turkish government have always used pressure against the Turkish LGBT community.
The Turkish media cover the issues and demands of the LGBT community as if they were reporting sensational tabloid news. At the same time the ambiguity of the newly accepted laws punish LGBT people by not recognizing them.
KAOS GL’S Story About Turkish Penal Code
On May 24, 2004, representatives of Kaos GL and Lambda Istanbul met with MEP Orhan Erarslan, a member of the Justice Commission. During the meeting, the speaker of the LGBT groups demanded the inclusion of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders among the groups that are protected by the Turkish Penal Code. The speaker also emphasized the sentences for crimes perpetrated against gays should not be reduced by the court. In addition, he urged that laws be further revised in order to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians.
On January 29, 2004, the Justice Commission decided to add “sexual orientation” to the “discrimination clause”. This inclusion provides jail terms of six months to one year for people who discriminate against others on the basis of their sexual orientation. On July 6, 2004 Turkish Parliamentary Justice Commission overruled prison terms for ‘sexual orientation’ discrimination, following Justice Minister Cemil Cicek’s argument that discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation are the same things.
On September 15, 2004 representatives from Kaos GL, Lambda Istanbul and women rights organizations joined the first Parliamentary Session in reviewing new Turkish Penal Code. We demanded from the Justice Commission to put “discrimination based on sexual orientation” back into the Penal Code draft. This did not happen.
Since that time, in order to explain our demands and worries about the new Turkish Penal Law, we issued numerous press statements and forwarded them to the members of the Justice Commission, Turkish MEPs and the Turkish public.
What Will Happen If The Demands Of Turkish LGBT People Don’t Realize?
* Kaos GL has been publishing a political LGBT magazine since 1994. In 1999 during a trial about the magazine, the prosecutor decided the magazine was harmful to minors. This decision put Kaos GL Magazine into the same category as a pornographic publication. Therefore, Kaos GL Magazine was sold in a covered envelope for several months until the judge ruled in favor of the magazine. Will the Turkish Justice Commission and the Parliament put the demands and thoughts of Turkish LGBT people in an envelope again? Or, if that will not be enough, will we be put in prison?
* The current situation stigmatizes and demeans the existence of homosexuals and finds our sexuality “immortal and unnatural”. Will the revision of the laws produce more stigmatization and discrimination because we are not legally considered?
* In the work place, we are often not hired or we may be faced with obstacles to being promoted or we may be laid off because of our sexual orientation. Which law or regulation will protect LGBT employees from such discrimination based on our sexual orientation?
* LGBT government officials are forced to deny their sexual orientation otherwise they risk termination of their contract with the government.
* We face violence and oppression. We are forced to get married or murdered because we are lesbians.
Turkish government officials claim that the penal code legislation was drafted to increase rights and freedoms and bring the Turkish justice system in line with European Union standards. What freedoms will the new Turkish Penal Code bring us if it mutes our voices, stigmatizes our sexuality as something unnatural, refuses to recognize our relationships and permits employers to fire us because of our sexual orientation?
Revision and harmonization of all Turkish laws or regulations pretend that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders don’t exist. This is both not based on reality, but also not based on equality and justice.
Letter Addressed To:
Joseph Borrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of European Commission
Olli Rehn, European Commission, Commissioner for Enlargement
Vladimír _pidla, European Commission, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Ambassador Hansjörg Kretschmer, Delegation of the European Commission to Turkey
Mr. Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the Council of the EU
Paul Richmond, an expert on Turkey of the ICJ
Michael Cashman MEP, European Office, West Midlands Labour Party
Kaos GL is a LGBT organization that also publishes a bi-monthly magazine to cover Turkey.
Please refer any questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
01 June 2005
Gay Turkish activist jailed and beaten
London – Imprisoned Turkish gay activist and conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan is being violently abused in the military jail at Sivas in eastern Turkey," reports David Allison of the gay rights group OutRage! "There is a serious danger that he will be murdered – either by fellow prisoners or by the Turkish military authorities. The prison guards are encouraging other prisoners to attack Mehmet, by spreading the lie that he is a terrorist.
Mehmet is now on hunger strike in protest at his detention and maltreatment. Following his refusal to cooperate with the military authorities, he is charged with "insubordination in front of the unit", which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment under Article 88 of TACK (Turkish Military Penal Code). "Mehmet’s trial is scheduled for 9 June. The Turkish legal and military systems are notoriously unfair and harsh. There is no way he will get a fair trial," added Mr Allison. OutRage is backing an URGENT ACTION campaign by War Resisters International (WRI) to press the Turkish government to halt the violent abuse of Mehmet and to release him from prison.
OutRage! is appealing to friends and supporters to:
1) email the Turkish President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, at: email@example.com
2) email the Turkish Ambassador to London, Mr Akin Alptuna, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) write to The Ambassador, Mr Akin Alptuna, at: Turkish Embassy, 43 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PA.
More info below and at: http://wri-irg.org/co/turkcampaign-en.htm
Further information: Brett Lock, OutRage! 0770 843 5917
Andreas Speck, War Resisters’ International, 020 7278 4040
Email email@example.com Web http://wri-irg.org
EQUAL GROUND "Striving to establish equitable status for all sexual orientations and gender identities"
August 13, 2005
Lawyers call record imprisonment for conscientious objector ‘intimidation’
A military court’s decision to sentence a gay Turkish conscientious objector to a record four-year prison term is a “political sentence” and actually serves only to intimidate all conscientious objectors as well as homosexuals in Turkey, his lawyers claimed yesterday. Mehmet Tarhan, a pacifist and gay rights activist who refused to serve his compulsory military service, was arrested in April and interned in a military prison in the central Anatolian province of Sivas.
“ Starting from day one following his arrest Tarhan was subjected to psychological pressure and physical violence due to his being a conscientious objector and a homosexual,” his lawyers, Suna Co_kun and Senem Do_ano_lu, said. Under Turkey’s Constitution military service is compulsory for all males except those physically or mentally handicapped. Amnesty International earlier expressed concern that the right to conscientious objection is not legally recognized by authorities in Turkey and that provisions do not exist for an alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors.
After being arrested and imprisoned in April, Tarhan was asked to apply for a discharge from the army on the grounds that he is an openly homosexual man, but he refused to do so, calling it discrimination. In June a judge ordered his release because he had already served the minimum three-month term of imprisonment and returned to his army unit.
However, Tarhan was subsequently charged by the Turkish Military Penal Code (TACK) with Article 88, namely, “Insubordination in front of the unit,” which carries a penalty of between three months and five years’ imprisonment. The court duly dealt with the original offense and the second one – Article 88 — and sentenced Tarhan to a four-year and a two-year sentence of imprisonment to run concurrently. The defendant’s lawyers announced they have appealed both sentences.
Turkey is signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights which says everyone has the right to conscientious objection; however, Turkey doesn’t yet recognize the right of objection in its statutes.
From: "Kaos GL Turkey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
11 June 2005
Gay singer bids to host macho Turkish oil wrestling contest
A gay singer has made a controversial bid to host the national tournament of one of Turkey’s oldest and most macho sports – male oil-wrestling, the national press reported. Fatih Urek, an openly gay singer who often appears on television and in the trendy bars of Istanbul, announced his intention to be a candidate for the host or "Aga" of the oil wrestling tournament held every summer at Kirkpinar in the Edirne Province, in the northwest of the country. The highest bidder in an auction is designated the "Aga," a prestigious position in Turkey’s Muslim circles. " I still haven’t made a final decision but if anybody can run, then I can also be Aga, it’s simple," Urek told the newspaper Hurriyet.
However former "Agas" and even deputies have strongly criticized the possibility of Urek becoming the host for the event, which legend dates back to the 14th century and a wrestling match to the death between two soldiers who were brothers. "We cannot accept that these wrestling matches will be stained by this incident," said ruling Justice and Development party deputy Necdet Budak. The deputy claimed he "respected all lifestyles" but said a gay Aga had no place in Kirkpinar.
The wrestling matches are a national and international attraction with the wrestlers or "Pahlivan," meaning brave warrior in Persian, wearing only leather shorts and covering themselves in olive oil which is designed to make balance more important than brute force to win the contest. A delegation from the gay community in Turkey was going to attend the tournament, which is attended by the Turkish president, but they decided to cancel the visit.
Kaos GL is a LGBT organization that also publishes a bi-monthly magazine to cover Turkey.
Please refer any questions to: email@example.com
28 June 2005
The 12th Annual Pride Events in Istanbul
The 12th annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride events will take place in Istanbul between July 1 and July 3, 2005. All events are free of charge, with the exception of the party “Dance at BE Club”.
History of rice Events in Turkey:
The Christopher Street Day Sexual Liberation Activities, a gay and lesbian pride conference in Istanbul originally scheduled for July 2-6, 1993, was banned at the last minute by the governor of Istanbul, apparently on the grounds that it would be contrary to Turkey’s traditions and moral values and that it might disturb the peace. This was despite the fact that the Interior Ministry had previously provided the organizers approval to conduct the event. The governor allegedly sent his agents to many hotels in Istanbul, instructing them not to provide lodgings to the participants. The next day, Turkish authorities detained 28 foreign delegates. At the time of their arrest, most of the detainees were in transit to a press conference in protest of the ban. They were detained for over five hours, threatened with possible strip searches and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) tests, and deported on a Turkish airliner to Germany.
The most striking result of this event was the immediate establishment of Lambda Istanbul, which, to this day, remains one of the most active LGBT organizations in Turkey. Right after the Istanbul city government banned the conference, a group of gays and lesbians, formerly named "Gokkusagi" (Rainbow), renamed themselves “Lambda Istanbul”. The group’s first activity was to work with other organizations seeking to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Working with Turkey’s AIDS Prevention Society, Lambda Istanbul prepared the first safe sex brochure that directly addressed gay men. Lambda Istanbul became a member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in 1993.
But things have changed since 1993. Now such repression would be almost inconceivable. With the prospect of European Union membership, Turkish LGBT organizations, such as Lambda Istanbul in Istanbul and Kaos GL in Ankara, have begun to benefit from relaxed censorship and a more open civil society. In 2001, Kaos GL participated in the May Day labor demonstrations in Ankara under its own banner and signs. This was the first time that Turkish homosexuals participated in a public forum. It also paved the way for Lambda Istanbul to join the May Day labor demonstrations in Istanbul in 2002 for the first time.
In June 2003, Lambda Istanbul celebrated its tenth Gay Pride week and the anniversary of its establishment. For the first time in Turkey’s history, about 50 gays and lesbians marched down Istiklal Street in Istanbul and issued a press statement at the end of the parade. The press statement pointed out that “The Right to Live Proud” is an indispensable part of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The statement also indicated the problems Turkish gays and lesbians continue to face in their lives. Other events followed the parade, including the traditional pride party, the showing of the legendary movie “Stonewall”, a symposium and a poetry recital. Since 2003, Lambda Istanbul in Istanbul has been organizing Pride events every year.
Friday, July 1, 2005
19:30 – Cocktail Reception
21:00 – Movie “My Mom Loves Women”
Saturday, July 2, 2005
11:00 – Picnic at Heybeliada Island
Sunday, July 3, 2005
15:00 – Pride March starting from Taksim Square
15:30 – Press Statement
16:00 – Slideshow about LGBT issues of Turkey in 2004
18:00 – Symposium “Homophobia at Turkish media”
20:00 – Party “Dance at BE Club” http://projectbe.com/
All events will take place at Karakedi Cultural Center, except the picnic, rally, press statement and the party.
Karakedi Cultural Center is located at Istiklal Caddesi, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak, No:8 K:4 Beyoglu, Istanbul.
Lambda Istanbul’s contact information:
Address: Istiklal Caddesi, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak, Halas Ap., No: 20/4, Kat:3 Beyoglu – Istanbul
Tel/Fax: 0212 245 70 68 (between 15:00 – 20:00)
Web site: http://www.lambdaistanbul.org
September 26, 2005
Turkey Moves to Ban its Largest Gay Group
Turkey last week initiated legal action to ban its leading gay organization, Kaos GL (whose website has an English-language section.) And the oldest Turkish gay group, Lambda Istanbul — which this year sponsored a Gay Pride March in Istanbul that drew 150 participants — may soon find itself targeted as well.
Selahattin Ekremoglu, deputy governor of the Turkish capital Ankara, on September 15 wrote a letter to the gay and lesbian group Kaos GL that said a court procedure had been opened to dissolve the organization. He claimed that the name and regulations of the group violated a provision in the Turkish Civil Code that forbids "establishing any organization that is against the laws and principles of morality." This government ukase contradicts the long Turkish literary gay tradition — notably in the divan poetry much admired in the Ottoman Empire of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries from poets like Hafiz and Muhammed Ibn Hassan Al Nawaji — of which the openly gay Turkish poet-novelist-scenarist Murathan Murgan is the most prominent modern inheritor.
The International Lesbian and Gay Association denounced the move to shut down Kaos GL last week in a statement, and today Human Rights Watch issued a similar protest . "Turkey has a long record of suppressing civil society and harassing human rights defenders," said Scott Long, director of HRW’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project. "This dangerous new move shows that old habits die hard, and calls into question recent advances in rights protections."
Kaos GL Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Organization is an 11-year-old, Ankara-based collective that operates a drop-in center providing social and cultural support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The group also advocates for measures to end discrimination and violence, and it publishes a magazine that has been registered as a legal publication since 1999.
On July 15, Kaos GL applied to the Ministry of Interior for recognition as a nongovernmental organization. The ministry initially approved the request, but the Ankara deputy governor, who reports to the Interior Ministry, has now responded by launching a lawsuit to close the organization.
" Sweeping references to ‘morality’ in the Turkish Civil Code still offer a pretext for discrimination and abuse of basic rights," said Long. "Equal protection doesn’t include exclusion for sexual orientation or gender identity."
Turkey has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects freedoms of expression and association and also forbids discrimination on the basis of sex. In 1994 the U.N. Human Rights Committee held that "sexual orientation" was a status protected against discrimination by the treaty.
Turkey has also ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which affirms freedoms of expression and association. The European Court of Human Rights has condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in a succession of cases.
In a briefing paper on Turkey’s progress toward admission to the European Union, Human Rights Watch last year said that, "The government continues to ease the restrictions on associations by small degrees." However, the paper also noted, "for organizations viewed with suspicion by the authorities, including human rights organizations, day-to-day life feels like life under a police state: annual meetings and press conferences are often monitored by plain clothes police officers toting video cameras, while local prosecutors maintain a hail of litigation."
The Turkish tourist industry harvests a lot of Western and gay tourist dollars each year. That’s why an effective way to protest is to write to Ambassador O. Faruk Logoglu, Embassy of the Turkish Republic, 2525 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008, or e-mail him by clicking here — and, whether you’re gay or straight, tell Ambassador Logoglu that you won’t visit Turkey as a tourist and spend your money there until it stops its anti-gay actions like its move to shut down Kaos GL.
October 12, 2005
Turkish gays win first legal victory on road to EU
Turkish gays on Wednesday won their first victory since the start of European Union entry talks last week when prosecutors rejected an official demand to shut down a newly-formed homosexual association. Ankara ‘s deputy governor last month asked the courts to order the closure of the Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association, established on July 15, calling it immoral.
" Kaos GL Association will not be closed," the group said in a statement, adding that the prosecutor’s office had informed their lawyer of his decision.This is a big step forward for homosexuals in achieving the equality and justice they deserve and in abolishing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in all fields of social life," Kaos said in its statement.
Unlike many Muslim countries, homosexuality has never been illegal or criminalised in , but there are no laws to protect gay men and lesbians from discrimination and hostility.A clause offering such protection was originally inserted into penal code reforms passed last year as part of ‘s EU bid, but was removed by Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, gay rights activists say. The Ankara governor’s office said the association’s title and purposes violated the Turkish Civil Code, which states that associations against law and morality cannot be established.
The governor’s action sparked a letter campaign from international gay groups, which wrote to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan asking him to protect human rights as Ankara has pledged to do under international agreements. Kaos said Ankara prosecutor Kursat Kayral said in his ruling that the American Psychiatric Association did not rate homosexuality as a disorder and the words "gay" and "lesbian" were widely used in daily life and scientific research.
" At a time when Turkey is debating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the prosecutor has ruled that being homosexual does not mean being immoral," said Kaos. The EU has made no specific references to gay rights in its demands on . Most Turkish homosexuals keep their personal lives well hidden and there is hardly any gay "scene" outside cosmopolitan Istanbul .
19 October 2005
Turkish gay group wins shut-down fight
One of Turkey’s few lesbian and gay advocacy group has won its fight to stay open, despite a senior politician arguing for its closure.
Kaos GL won the right to offer resources and information to the country’s LGBT communities despite calls from Ankara’s deputy governor for it to be shut down.
Selahattin Ekremoglu had refused to officially recognise Kaos GL and has called for legal action to be taken against the group, claiming it goes against the country’s morals. He also said the group’s title was offensive to the majority of Turkish people. However, prosecutor Kursat Kayral ruled that the words “lesbian” and “gay” were now part of the country’s everyday language, and that homosexuality was no longer perceived as an illness. He said the governor had no right to call for the group’s closure.
Those behind Kaos are celebrating the decision, saying it was vital such a step was taken in light of the recent EU accession talks.
"This is a big step forward for homosexuals in achieving the equality and justice they deserve and in abolishing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in all fields of social life," the group said in a statement.
"At a time when Turkey is debating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the prosecutor has ruled that being homosexual does not mean being immoral," it added.
Talks about Turkey joining the EU were confirmed earlier this month and are likely to take place later this year. However, western members have called for the country to make steps towards improving its human rights record. There are no laws against homosexuality in Turkey, although there is no legislation protecting lesbian and gay people from discrimination. According to Kaos, the majority of lesbian and gay people still feel they must hide their sexuality from their friends, families and authorities.
November 4, 2005
Gay Conscientious Objector Ends Hunger Strike, Prison Sentence Overruled on Appeal
Mehmet Tarhan, the gay Turkish conscientious objector, has stopped his hunger strike after winning most of his demands. And Tarhan has had his four-year prison sentence overruled by the Military Court of Appeal The hunger strike lasted for 34 days, starting on September 30 following the forcible and violent shaving of his hair and beard. He was protesting the unjust and arbitrary practices of the authorities in Sivas Military Prison.
All his demands were met, except for a medical examination by a civilian doctor. Tarhan’s lawyers announced his demands: “Protesting the unfair and inhumane treatment he received, legal action against the perpetrators, civilian doctor’s examination, having the same rights as all the other prisoners”…
The verdict that sentenced Tarhan to four-years was overruled on the grounds of procedure, it appears. There has been no official announcement. It is expected that Tarhan will be tried again by the Sivas Military Court on the charges of “insistent insubordination before the unit with the intent of evading military service altogether.”
Mehmet Tarhan was taken into custody on April 8, 2005 on the grounds that he was a “military service deserter,” and, accompanied by police, was transferred to Tokat 48th Infantry Regiment. He had declared his conscientious objection to military service on October 27, 2001 at the Ankara branch of IHD(Human Rights Association). On April 10, 2005, Sivas Military court filed a lawsuit against Mehmet Tarhan on the charge of “insistent insubordination before the unit with the intent of evading military service altogether” (Article 88 of the Military Criminal Code) after he refused “to wear military uniform.” Mehmet Tarhan was kept in Sivas Military Prison from April 20–26, 2005 for examination about his homosexuality and his psychiatric condition.
But Tarhan refused examination, defining the “unfit for service” report (widely known as “rotten” report) as the “rottenness of the militaristic order itself.”. It was reported that from the day Mehmet Tarhan was imprisoned until May 19, 2005, he was constantly threatened, harassed, subject to blackmail and beatings by other inmates, who were encouraged by prison staff. Tarhan’s lawyers applied to the Military Prosecutor about these atrocities.
Also shortly after the atrocities were revealed to the press, on May 25, 2005 Tarhan’s hair and beard were violently and forcefully shaved by seven soldiers. Tarhan who sustained injuries during these events went on a hunger strike with the demands of “Protesting the unfair and inhumane treatment he received, legal action against the perpetrators, civilian doctor’s examination, having the same rights as all the other prisoners.”
This first hunger strike lasted for 28 days. On June 9, 2005, the third hearing of the case was held and Tarhan was released in order to be tried as a ‘free man’. But the vicious cycle of Military Recruitment Center, Military Unit, and Military Prison was put to work again. Tarhan was sent once again to the Tokat Infantry Regiment escorted by the police. As he again refused to wear military uniform, a second lawsuit was filed on June 10, 2005 on the charge of “insistent insubordination before the unit with the intent of evading military service altogether.”
On August 10, 2005 the cases were concluded and Mehmet Tarhan was sentenced to 4 years (2 years for each case) in prison. The decision was appealed. On September 30, 2005, Tarhan’s hair and beard were again forcefully and violently shaved by seven or eight soldiers. After this torture, Tarhan went on another indefinite hunger strike with the following demands: “Protesting the unfair and inhumane treatment he received, legal action against the perpetrators, civilian doctor’s examination, having the same rights as all the other prisoners.”
After the negotiations by his lawyers, his demands were met on November 2, 2005 and he ended his hunger strike. On October 26, 2005, a delegation from Human Rights Association, visited Tarhan and gathered information about the marks of violence on his body, the prison conditions and the torture.
On October 31, 2005 two doctors from the Sivas Doctor’s Association met face to face with Tarhan, and although they could not medically examine him, they got information. From October 31, 2005 on, as a result of the negotiation efforts from Mehmet’s lawyers, agreement was reached about his demands. On November 2, 2005 his statement in relation to the complaint was taken by the Military Prosecutor. And on the same day, he ended his hunger strike
Original Link: http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/2005nov/0402.htm
Kaos GL is a LGBT organization that publishes a bi-monthly magazine to completely cover Turkey.
Please refer any questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org and refer to the web site for information: http://www.kaosgl.com/english