Gay Turkey News & Reports 2010-11

Also see:
History of the LGBT Movement in Turkey
Turkish LGBT Rights Report Sept 2005
Turkey Photo Gallery
Travel story about sailing Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast

1 Sexual Orientation Discrimination at Work in Turkey: Is it finally in law? 1/10

2 Turkey urged to end discriminatory clampdown on gay rights groups 2/10

3 European Parliament says candidate countries must offer gays protection 2/10

4 Transgender Derya Y. Killed in Antalya 2/10

5 Cardin, Hastings Condemn Anti-Gay Hate Speech 3/10

6 Turkey’s transsexuals popular on TV but not at home 3/10

7 Gay Iranians increasingly fleeing their country after June’s crackdown 4/10

8 Turkish court refuses to ban Gay rights groups 4/10

9 Turkey: Harsh police violence against transgender activists 5/10

9a Whispers in Tehran 8/10

10 The World’s New Gay Rights Battlegrounds 10/10

10a Gay refugees in limbo in Turkey 11/10

10b Military denies asking for ‘photo proof’ of homosexuality 11/10

11 Homotopia and The Pansy Project go to Istanbul 12/10

12 Do Ask, Must Tell 12/10

13 Turkey: Transgender Activists Under Attack 1/11

14 Turkish LGBT group shut down by court 1/11

15 Transgender Individuals Sued after Groundless Custody 2/11

16 Turkey bans internet domain names with the word gay! 5/11

16b Istanbul becoming proud of Pride Week 6/11

16c AI report reveals widespread discrimination against LGBT 6/11

17 Turkish gay pride march draws thousands 6/11

18 Video: Discrimination and violence against LGBT in Turkey 7/11

19 Report Shows Improvement in Handling of LGBTI Refugees 8/11

20 Turkey fails to live up to standard 8/11

21 Credibility issues of LGBTI asylum seekers in Turkey 9/11

22 LGBT gains recognition from government for first time 9/11

23 Will Turkey Listen to LGBT Representatives? 9/11

23a "Honor killings" target Turkey’s LGBT community 10/11

24 The Situation of Iranian Queer Refugees and… 10/11

January 27, 2010 –

Sexual Orientation Discrimination at Work in Turkey: Is it finally in law?

Kaos GL Press Release
Prime Minister’s Public Officials Ethics Committee drafted a regulation for the use of inspectors in public institutions to investigate ethical issues in public institutions. According to AKSAM newspaper, an article on ‘sexual orientation’ is also included in 16-article draft. According to the draft, discrimination based on ones sexual orientation is prohibited. The Equality chapter in the draft Regulation on Ethical Behavior Principles for Public Inspection provides assurances for gay civil servants who are not only excluded in the society, but especially also in public institutions and offices.

"The transposition of EU Directives into domestic law must be completed"
Progress reports on the Turkey’s accession process to the European Union underlined no legislation exists in Turkey against discrimination based on sexual orientation since the initial one. It has been stated that EU Directives are not transposed into Turkish domestic law, and in the case of non-discrimination, it has been reminded that legislation against discrimination based on religion, race or ethnic origin, language, beliefs, disability, age and sexual orientation must be formulated.

The reports also mentioned that transposition of EU Directives relating to discrimination based on race or ethnic origin, religion of belief, disability, age and sexual orientation into national law is not completed.

"Legislation will cover, Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation"
If the draft regulations of Prime Ministers Public Officials Ethics Committee is adopted and enforced, it will be the first time for prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation to be included in national legislation.

The article of the draft text is as follows:
"Inspectors perform their duties without considering differences based on language, religion, race, sex, nationality, social class, disability status, age marital status, sexual orientation, social and economic status, political opinions and other reasons alike."

Kaos GL is a LGBT organization and a legally registered non-governmental organization that publishes a bi-monthly magazine to completely cover Turkey. Please refer questions here

10 February 2010 – Amnesty International

Turkey urged to end discriminatory clampdown on gay rights groups

Amnesty International called on the Turkish authorities to end its harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations after a new attempt to close down an LGBT group through the courts began on Tuesday. The case against the Black Pink Triangle association, which has worked in the city of Izmir to combat discrimination against LGBT people in since it was founded in February 2009, was adjourned after the first hearing, amid fears that the Turkish authorities will engage the group in a protracted – yet groundless – legal battle.

The association faces closure following a complaint by the Izmir Governor’s Office that its aims violate "Turkish moral values and family structure".

"The decision to adjourn the hearing rather than dismiss this baseless and discriminatory case is a signal that the judicial harassment of LGBT associations continues," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher. Amnesty International is concerned that this closure case follows similar cases targeting LGBT associations in recent years.

Cases were brought against LGBT association KAOS-GL in 2005 and Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) in 2006. In April 2009, the solidarity group Lambda Istanbul won its appeal against the closure of the association – but only after an arduous four-year legal battle. In the trial, which was observed by Amnesty International, lawyers for Black Pink Triangle association called on the court to uphold the right to freedom of association.

The public prosecutor stated that if the authorities did not audit associations such as the Black Pink Triangle, it "would turn social life into anarchy". The case was adjourned until 20 April after the judge said there had been letters from abroad regarding the case that he wanted translated before continuing.

Outside the court, Black Pink Triangle association issued a statement criticizing the authorities for attempting to close an LGBT association at a time when LGBT people are victims of hate crimes in Turkey. "The only way for LGBT people to resist the oppression, isolation and marginalization in social life due to their sexual orientation and gender identity is through solidarity and coming together," said the Black Pink Triangle spokesperson.

"A protracted legal battle, hampering the vital work done by Black Pink Triangle in defending the rights of LGBT individuals, would be a further indictment of Turkey’s failure to uphold the right to freedom of association and non-discrimination." said Andrew Gardner.

February 12, 2010 – PinkNews

European Parliament says candidate countries must offer gays protection

by Staff Writer,
The European Parliament has said that Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey must prove they can offer "genuine protection" to gay people in order to join the European Union.
The three countries have been criticised for their records on LGBT rights and reports given to the European Parliament reminded the candidates that protections such as anti-discrimination laws were "non-negotiable".

Croatia was criticised for its 2009 de facto ban on Zagreb Pride and the government’s failure to implement anti-discrimination laws. In Turkey, the country’s penal code raised concerns for "allowing for the systematic persecution" of gay, bisexual and trans people, while Macedonia was told to cover sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination laws.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said "I am happy that our amendments in favour of LGBT rights in the progress reports for Macedonia and Croatia were adopted by the European Parliament. We have reaffirmed that anti-discrimination standards must apply in candidate countries."

Michael Cashman MEP, Ms Lunacek’s co-president, added: "Accession criteria are crystal clear: minorities must be protected from discrimination as laid out in Article 19 of the Treaty – and that includes sexual orientation. "This is not an à la carte menu: it is at the core of the European Union, and we will be rigorous in its application."

14 February 2010 – KAOS GL

Transgender Derya Y. Killed in Antalya

by Bia News Center
35-year-old transsexual women Derya T. was stabbed to death at her home in Antalya on 8 February. The police are investigating the matter. Another transsexual women was injured with a knife two days earlier in Ankara.
Transgender Derya Y. was stabbed to death at her home in the Altindag district of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. The police has launched an investigation into the matter.

The LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite and transsexual) Rights Platform has scheduled a press release for today (10 February) at 3.00 pm in the centrally located Yuksel Avenue in Ankara. The platform will read out an annoucement concerning Derya Y. and transsexual women Zuhal who was stabbed in Ankara on the night of 6 February. As reported by, website of the Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (KaosGL), Derya Y. was killed at around 11.30 pm on Monday night (8 February).

The murder was reported by phone. When the police arrived at Derya Y.’s home, they talked to the victims friend I.Ö.. The body of Derya Y. was found in her bedroom. The police declared that Derya Y. was stabbed and died of loss of blood. Friends of the victim remained in front of her home until the morning. The police investigated the scene of crime and took Derya Y.’s body to the forensic medicine morgue.

March 9, 2010 – Commission on Security & Cooperative in Europe

Cardin, Hastings Condemn Anti-Gay Hate Speech

Washington -U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) today expressed their disapproval with recent anti-gay statements made by Selma Aliey Kavaf, Turkey’s Minister of State responsible for Women and Families. Kavaf called homosexuality a “disease” that “needs to be treated” in a newspaper interview.

“The wrongheaded remarks of the state minister for women and families in Turkey are shameful to say the least. In the wake of these harmful comments, elected leaders in Turkey need to stand up for the rights of all people and condemn such blatant hatred,” Cardin said. “I welcome the news that the Turkish minister of health voiced his disagreement with Kavaf’s comments and underscored the need for a more tolerant society.”

“This type of hate speech and ignorance is never acceptable and should never be tolerated, let alone uttered, by any political leaders ,” Hastings said. “The minister should apologize for her comments. As a government leader she should know that her remarks wrongly signal that it is acceptable to discriminate against any group. Hate is never acceptable.”

Chairman Cardin and Co-Chairman Hastings have been frequent advocates for rights of all minorities and have worked to combat forms of intolerance that continue to spread throughout the 56-countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including the United States.

March 25, 2010 – Asylum Law

Turkey’s transsexuals popular on TV but not at home

by Simon Akam
Istanbul (Reuters Life!) – Singer Bulent Ersoy is renowned for her elaborate wardrobe, formidable décolletage, countless albums, a stint on Turkey’s most popular TV talent show and a spin-off film career. She was also born a man.
The transsexual Ersoy — and a host of other ambiguously sexed entertainers — have achieved success despite the conservatism of Turkish society and the prejudice that faces the country’s gay and transgender communities.

According to Sahika Yuksel, a psychiatrist at Istanbul University who studies sexual identity, many Turks "don’t accept their neighbor’s son is gay, but they accept someone who is a figure outside, in television, in newspapers." Earlier this month Selma Aliye Kavaf, the Turkish minister responsible for women and family affairs, said in an interview with the Hurriyet newspaper that homosexuality is a disease and should be treated. Elsewhere, violence against gays and transsexuals is a regular occurrence. According to Human Rights Watch, at least eight transgender women have been murdered in Istanbul and Ankara since November 2008.

The most recent killing was of a transgender woman called Aycan Yener on February 16, 2010, in Fatih, a conservative neighborhood of Istanbul. Yet, tellingly, Bulent Ersoy’s most recent brush with controversy had nothing to do with her transgender status. In 2008 she stirred scandal when she said that if she had a son she would not let him fight in other people’s wars, a comment taken as a criticism of Turkey’s military operations against PKK separatists in the south-east of the country.

Observers see a number of reasons for the co-existence of popular transgender entertainers and widespread intolerance. Nazan Ozcan, who writes on human rights issues for the Turkish newspaper Radikal, believes that financial success acts as a license for behavior that would otherwise be unacceptable. "If you have money, if you are rich, you can be everything," she said. If you are ordinary people, you can’t be anything." Others regard the double standard as an example of a more widespread hypocrisy in public life.

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April 2, 2010 – The Washington Post

Gay Iranians increasingly fleeing their country after June’s crackdown

by Anthony Faiola
As Hassan walked — well, more like sashayed — through the market in this southern Turkish city, the population on the sidewalk — elderly women in dark veils, men behind stalls selling Turkish pears five to a bag, children in woolly striped sweaters — all gawked.
"Yes, look! Look all you want," Hassan said with a flourish, opening his arms in a benevolent gesture, as if their stares were rooted in adulation and not curiosity bordering on disgust. A portly, middle-aged woman narrowed her eyes and curled her lip at him. "What?" said the 34-year-old Iranian refugee. "Is this the first time she’s seen a man wearing makeup? Maybe she should take notes. She could use a few beauty tips."

Behind him, Farzan giggled. The slight 25-year-old sporting a shoulder sack that would be labeled a purse even in the male-bag capitals of Tokyo and Paris offered up a quick tale in his feminine lilt. "The other day I was buying some eggs, and the man would not even take the money from my hand," he recounted. "He looked at me and said, ‘Put the money on the table,’ and spat on the floor. He gave me no change."

"You should have thrown the eggs in his face," lectured Hassan, anger flashing in his eyes, their color hazel by the grace of contact lenses. "We’re out of Iran now, and you will not take that kind of treatment anymore. Not in Turkey, not anywhere. You stand up for yourself. One life being less than human was enough."

Applied for asylum
Freedom is relative. But for Hassan, mother hen to a gaggle of gay Iranians fleeing a nation where their sexuality is punishable by death, relatively secular Turkey is one step closer to a life less shackled.

He is one of more than 300 gays who have fled Iran since the rise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who infamously proclaimed in 2007, to guffaws from his audience at Columbia University, that there were no gays in Iran. Most have crossed the border into Turkey, joining 2,000 Iranian refugees — largely political dissidents and religious outcasts — facing waits of two to three years as the United Nations processes their applications for asylum. Those who agreed to be interviewed asked that their last names be withheld for fear of reprisals against their families.

Turkey grants the refugees sanctuary just until the United Nations can find them homes in the United States, Canada, Western Europe or Australia. To avoid a critical mass in any one Turkish city, the refugees are dispersed to two dozen locations. The list does not include more progressive Istanbul, gem of the Bosporus, but rather, smaller metropolises such as Isparta that remain influenced by Islam in the same way Christianity influences the Bible Belt. In Turkey, where the party that won the national elections in 2002 has sought to foster better ties with Tehranthe movements of the refugees are strictly limited. They can engage in no political activity, cannot work and must check in at police stations at least twice a week.

Human rights groups say the number of gays taking flight has jumped in recent months as some came out of the shadows for a fleeting moment around the time of the tainted elections last June. They attempted to join in the anti-government campaigns that have sparked a brutal crackdown against dissidents by the Iranian government. It marked the first time, gay activists say, that a reviled underclass in Iran poked its face to the surface. It stayed there just long enough to get slapped.

"The bravery that has come out of the gay community in Iran since the elections has been inspiring, but the government has not taken it lightly," said Saghi Ghahraman, an Iranian exile who helps operate a Canadian-based organization providing guidance to gays trying to escape Iran. "They have come down harshly and violently. They’ve made it more difficult than ever to be gay in Iran."
Driven underground

On the outskirts of Isparta, a southern Turkish city, the door opened to the living room of a recently rented basement apartment. Taymuoury emerged in one of the covering gowns of conservative Islamic women. He repeatedly bowed, praising Allah with fast-rolling trills off his tongue. Then, comically, salaciously, he opened his garment to reveal a blood-red bra, grabbing his stuffed chest to bursts of laughter from the gay Iranians in the room.

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30 April 2010 – Al Arabiya News Channel

Turkish court refuses to ban Gay rights groups

Ankara (AFP) – A Turkish court Friday rejected a demand to ban a group campaigning for gay rights, marking another victory for the fledgling movement in the mainly Muslim country, Anatolia new agency reported. "Homosexuals are free to found associations like all other people," judge Mursel Ermis said as he announced the ruling at a court in the western city of Izmir, Anatolia reported.

The dissolution of the association, Siyah Pembe Ucgen (Black Pink Triangle), was sought by the Izmir governor’s office on grounds its statute was in breach of "Turkish family structure and general morality." Turkey’s two leading homosexual groups have been targeted in similar cases initiated by government authorities. Last year, the Appeals Court quashed a ruling to dissolve Lambda Istanbul, and in 2005 prosecutors threw out an application to outlaw the Ankara-based KAOS-GL.

Same-sex relationships have never been criminalized in EU-hopeful Turkey as elsewhere in the Muslim world, but there are no laws protecting homosexual rights and prejudice against gays and lesbians remains strong in daily life. Family affairs minister Selma Aliye Kavaf sparked a wave of criticism in March when she described homosexuality as a "biological disorder, a disease" that should be cured.

May 18th, 2010 – Intergroup on LGBT Rights

Turkey: Harsh police violence against transgender activists

Yesterday evening, on the 6th International Day Against Homophobia, uniformed police forces violently attacked five transgender activists from Pink Life Association in Ankara, Turkey.

The activists were forced out of their private car on unclear motives from the police. Attempting to move away a large crowd of human rights defenders attempting to protect the transgender activists, police officers also kicked the crowd and used pepper spray on the defenders.TurkeyThe arrestees were then forcibly brought to the Esat police station sustaining visible injuries, including bloody mouths and noses. Turkish human rights activists have witnessed police forces attacking the 5 transgender arrestees by kicking and beating them with truncheons. They were held in custody until 06:00am.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights, declared: “Like homophobia, transphobia is not acceptable anywhere, be it inside or outside the European Union. We call for a serious investigation into these acts, and their outright condemnation by police authorities!”

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-president of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, further added: “How can Turkey claim to be a true democracy if police forces disregard the rule of law, and attack those it must protect? We call on Turkish authorities to reprimand these police officers, and clearly affirm that LGBT people, and in particular transgender people, must be protected from violence.” The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights strongly condemns the attacks, and will further seek to include mentions of these breaches of human rights by authorities in accession talks between the European Union and Turkey.

August 7, 2010 – BiaNet
Poor Google translation Turkish to English

Whispers in Tehran
– A trip to Tehran–talking Turkish, Armenian and Persian–about a common vocabulary

by Mehmet Binay, Istanbul
Countries, politicians, priests and the church split, "said Archbishop Sarkissian, head of the Armenian Church in Iran. Courtyard of the archbishop’s office in Tehran, St. Sarkis Church yudumluyoruz Lebanon coffee flavor will remain in my mind 40 years. St. Sarkis Church, images of the now almost 10 years ago in Iran ‘ When I had shot for a television program. He did not know that more than once in the presence of Armenians in Iran. Now the younger in 1976, Mr. Sarkissian was religious in Anatolia, in executing the hometown of their ancestors telling me to travel. Set out from Antep, Malatya, Erzurum via Harput spread from the old Armenian villages and towns they had visited. As with every trip, the doors to them, their homes, which also met with people but the gendarmes had been in the Armenian gold LOOKING complaint alleged.

I ask the 70s were returned to Turkey after the Archbishop Sarkisyan’a. ‘Yes, of course I went! says, ‘Finally, in 2005, and a very farkilastigini Türkiye’deydim saw, felt, and the democratization of civil society also noticed stronger. " Sarkisyan’la speak on the importance of dialogue with the Turks of the Armenians in the meeting a personal level, is so important to the speech They may listen to stories and talking about each other. Sarkissian, "Whispering Memories Photos and talking ‘Old belgesellerimizden While praising his fotograflarini I got it. Chamber of religious motifs in a beautiful, old photos, tables, and animations of monasteries destroyed and there are now various parts of Anatolia …

Out are also available in the courtyard of a small building near the carnation where there is a genocide. Filtering, just behind the eyes of the courtyard of St. Sarkis Church has a huge mural of Ayatollah Khomeini. Today, 75,000 Armenians live in Iran, the Islamic Republic. That the majority of the community 400 years ago by the Persian ruler Shah Abbas, the present Armenia to the land around the layout. A small number survived the massacres of Armenians in Anatolia in 1915 and settled here since then they lived happily with the cultural and religious rights.

Tehran to host me that my friend Rafi Pirumyan, ‘Farsiler treat us very well, and the cultural, religious liberties in place’ he says. Talking about the same thing they all speak of the Armenians in Tehran, Iran, of course, political, and social problems that affect every segment of society in the way they hit retirement, but a discrimination against the Armenians, they say. The fall of the Shah’s regime coming to power in 1979, and since the application of Sharia in a descending order of the Armenian population in question. Penalties and one more thing NEVER had complained only of economic problems and difficulties of the regime … Today, Iran is trying to push a serious economic crisis. High unemployment, especially among young people, the democratic development since last year by the conservative government has harshly suppressed.

Muslim women must cover their heads, such as Christians, but no longer ‘hijab’in only the name has remained … Women protest the sake of covering only one third of their heads, to react to women who paint their hair RED stand out on the streets. The streets of Tehran while visiting the city of Ankara in the 1970s to become what seemed like architecture. Poorest neighborhoods in the south of the city today with a huge 15 million human hosts. The slums in the south, and new apartment buildings, collectively, that receives the votes of President Ahmadinejad’s poor and conservative bastion sector. By serving the poorest people in towns and villages who migrated to Tehran mayor, then the chairman to the Islamic Republic of Iran extending to both long and short … Tehran, the powder painted in different hues and interesting political and social public art works can be viewed through the streets of the city. Novice, the most beautiful examples of fine art in the vermis and the Arabic alphabet has displayed one of the nations most influential art of calligraphy.

South-North axis extending from Tehran’s northern city mahallalerinde huge skyscrapers and new housing constructions stand out. Iran, one of the elements of the region’s largest economy, China, Russia and Venezuela, his commercial treaties with countries such as the anti-US axis is trying to establish an alternative power. Tehran’s public housing, subway and road construction project seems to always signs of the signature of the Chinese companies. The country, the Middle East, Syria, Lebanon, founded by countries such as socio-economic, military relations, and the Gulf coast should not ignore or to affect a large population of Arab Shi … Istanbul and Cairo, the city streets towards afternoon traffic kipirdamayan reminds me. People waiting for taxis and buses that run between the road around the edges of a woman attracts attention for the majority of the population.

Iranian woman has been ordered to indoor exhibits fascinate audiences with its fashion sense. Developing an understanding of fashion from time to time to Tehran of Turkish modern mahram must organize the tour happened to be there. City turns to the right by the north of Vanak Square, passing through the rich neighborhoods come to Ararat Cultural Center. Burasi high walls, separated by a whole neighborhood, in a totally different world for which our own sosyallestigi Armenians in Iran, makes spores, cultural organizations, in executing the massive complex. Founded in 1954, head, breathes of the Armenian community in Tehran, the only place dolasabildigi WOMEN also uncovered. Ararat, the Armenian youth at the same time in their history they have learned. Ararat is an Armenian friend in Los Angeles after the 1979 immigrants who wish to hear, said: ‘There were Armenians, and taught me how to swim’.

Edge of the southern part of the football field on foot of Ararat, "Whispering Memories and Talking Pictures’ belgesellerimizin shown we reach an open area. This diyasporaya ‘third trip Müslümanlasan Armenians show you the story. Guests also have among the Acemler, two weeks before his team for the documentary in the Persian Episode hazirlatmis Ararat. Warm, friendly welcome awaits me in the eyes of the ‘Turkish documentary that? " reflections have a curious question. The show that evening is a total of 400 people, dozens of people came to meet me, wants to establish a connection. One of the interesting personalities Armenia’s ambassador to Tehran …

Armenian Ambassador Kirkor Arakelyan’i ‘Barev saying, "We continue to greet you and our conversation in English. Insisting Turkish Ambassador to speak Azeri dialect of the language of sense is in operation. This time, i learned of Baku in Azerbaijan would continue to speak with Azericesiyle büyükelçiyle. Arakelyan, a former Iranian citizen born in Tabriz. Enlarged neighborhood of speaking Azeri, Armenian Iranian Azeris of me says it all in how the amicable relations. Azeri Turks and Armenians in the musical and poetic konusurken chat with each other is that, how important is recognition of each other are talking about. Open borders policy on the one hand on his heart and let people break the easy-ambassador Arakelyan says.

Darkness Falls was established close to 400 evening guests OPEN AIR cinema "Whispering Memories Fotograflar’i watching and talking behind me leaning on their faces and I am watching the reactions and expressions. Quietly, his hands resting on the table watching the documentary, Archbishop Sarkissian, Ambassador Arakelyan whispers something in the meantime, the Turn. Müslümanlasan remained the Armenians in Turkey after 1915, a brand new story for the community here, but watching the documentary images of the different components of empathy. The reason? Lives in a close geographical area, and a similar culture to have a common heritage, while watching the documentary will help them.

Geben village wedding in the town while the story remained hidden in Taurus and have some fun in places, occasionally shaking their heads in sorrow diving. After only 14 minutes long, 42-minute Whispering Memories Fotograflar’ i watching and talking to the right end of the tutamiyorlar tears. History and the history of her hometown in search of a person who had to leave the sad story of the Armenians in Iran drowned in tears. Who knows, maybe one day they have to leave this country can remain always the possibility of holding a corner of their minds.

Armenian and Persian, after your speech is a short documentary salutes the audience’s attention and pull the names of the documentaries. The first documentary, whispering, and the second speaks, here in recent years in Turkey, passes such a challenging, but also a dynamic way. Persian viewers, Turkey is also beginning to change, 1915 konusulabildigini now says that other issues such as civil society develops talking about. Follow me worse than Turkish-speaking Archbishop Sarkissian, a long sermon outlines, pastor hospitable I sipped coffee in the morning, in front of the audience turns into a real politician. Instead of talk about the importance of dialogue, strengthening of the Armenian community hafizalarindaki stereotypical image of the Turkish State. Some of her guests a sitting at the table around me, looking at the irony of listening to me talking. I sipped bitter coffee of the morning, enjoy the Lebanese remember the sentence, and Sarkisian told me I repeat:

"Politicians countries, the priests and the church split," said Archbishop on the morning of the same …
A deep suspicion these days who think some of these receptors, the Turks and Armenians, and chronic state of sadness, I find myself in front of my eyes watching. Beginning of last century imams and priests, I think that incite the masses of people … Forever ‘back-stabbing Armenian Us’ and’ Killer Turks’ image of the sigh And I wonder if we can be rid of a number of new question arises: ‘What happens when the maturity of listening to the angle of the reach of each other?’, ‘Armenian or Turk, I met even a single 20 Keeping in mind the things that separates us from the beginning of the century a common hundreds of years of life remembering how sürdügümüzü? ‘, Or’ other ‘so-called enemy of the church, then release the other within us, as members of civil society, independent of what steps we can take the time? ..

All I do a short but intense trip to Tehran last night, my friends Lusin, Rafi, Nayiri and a beautiful outdoor Sassoun me ‘taking Sofrahane’ye. Turkish, Armenian and Persian are talking about a common vocabulary and similarities, to us, and these days, banned female singers from the period of the vendor Sah Suze and is taking Gugus’un CDs, Tarkan, Sezen Aksu and manga talking about. They are funny stories describing the relations of men laughing girl in Istanbul’s entertainment life, I’m talking about, listen to ADMIRATION. Sertab Erener devotees listen to a fan of manga is Sasun’a friend, rock and heavy metal festival is organized every year in Istanbul, telling …

The other rumor I put the guests seated around us, whom worn, how the girls in the men’s hand when talking about each other, actually maintains a freely admit how much less tanidigimizi … Pleasant conversation, in 1915, genocide, massacres, and politics to pop music, cinema, meals and travel to the lure of the common openings. I had beautiful new Armenian friends from Tehran to Istanbul ayrilirken there, their degimiyle Bolis’e invite them to come close to the word of the get. Because there’s much more to talk. (MB / EU)

* Mehmet Binay is documentary filmmaker in Istanbul

2010 November 13 – The Star

Gay refugees in limbo in Turkey

by David Graham, Living reporter
Van, Turkey—From the passenger seat of a white minivan, Farzan Shahmoradi stared out the window, still unsure whether he had crossed the border. They countryside, all hills and rock and bushes, looked the same. Then, as the van rounded a bend, Shahmoradi’s smuggler pointed to an enormous flag — a white crescent moon and star on a red background — flapping on a hilltop.

He was in Turkey, but he was far from safe. He still had to get to the United Nations refugee agency without attracting the attention of Turkish police, who could deport him if they knew he had no passport. For three days, Shahmoradi had entrusted his life to smugglers, paid the equivalent of $1,400 U.S. to secret the gay man across the border to Turkey. In the eastern city of Van, about 100 kilometres from the border, Shahmoradi went straight to the apartment of another gay Iranian refugee who agreed to put him up. He hid out for two days, waiting until he knew a Farsi interpreter would be on duty at the agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR.

After a lifetime of hiding his sexuality, Shahmoradi, 30, had to convince a stranger he was gay and explain what would happen if he was sent back to Iran. An insular Muslim country, Iran’s sharia laws are based on a strict interpretation of the Qur’an. Sex between anyone other than a husband and wife is a sin, and homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Shahmoradi had heard about two teenagers, believed to be a gay, hanged in the holy city of Mashhad in 2005. He had seen pictures of masked executioners fitting nooses around their. The next frame showed their bodies dangling from ropes in the middle of a street.

Although most Iranians, including refugees, can travel to Turkey on a valid passport, Shahmoradi’s had expired. He told the UN officer he was ordered to report to court when he tried to renew it. Shahmoradi had been ignoring repeated requests to come in for questioning after he and a friend were arrested for playing loud music in a car. Now he started to think about leaving. He already had a record. He was just 19 when police raided a gay party and took him to a Tehran prison, where he spent six terrifying nights. Shahmoradi feared this second brush with the law could result in much stiffer punishment, such as flogging or imprisonment, especially if the judge knew he was gay.

People like Shahmoradi don’t need to have a death warrant in their hands to seek asylum in Turkey, says Brenda Goddard, an officer at the UNHCR in Ankara. “We simply want to know why they left and what will happen if they return.” The UNHCR is a key player in the protection of refugees who come to Turkey from non-European countries, most of whom enter legally with passports by train, plane or bus. In the case of gay refugees from Iran, they help get temporary asylum in Turkey and refer their cases to countries that sponsor refugees. The three that accept more cases out of Turkey all together than others are the United States, Canada and Australia.

The acceptance rate for refugees from Turkey is quite high at about 60 per cent, says UNHCR external affairs officer Metin Corabatir. At the agency office in Van, Shahmoradi registered as a refugee and was told to remain in Van and report to local police a couple of times a week. He had nothing but a black nylon backpack filled with two shirts and a pair of jeans, and the equivalent of $350 U.S. in his pocket. Shahmoradi was free to go, but faced a long wait.

He still had to have his determination interview, where the UNHCR would decide if he was a refugee. And then he would have to wait to see whether Canada would sponsor him. He told his UNHCR officer looking after his case he wanted to move to Canada. Like many gays, lesbians and transgendered people leaving Iran, he knew it as a liberal country with a universal health-care system, where gay marriage is legal. He also requested it because of an aunt who lives there, and his connection to Parsi. The UNHCR acknowledges wait times are too long and officials there are optimistic that an infusion of money from the U.S. will help them hire more legal officers to handle the caseload.

Read Article

November 19, 2010 – Daily News and Economic Review

Turkish military denies asking for ‘photo proof’ of homosexuality

Istanbul – Turkey’s military is asking for “photographic” proof that people seeking an exemption from compulsory military service on the grounds of their homosexuality are actually gay, the daily Milliyet reported last week, citing recent EU progress reports. Many homosexual citizens have reported being asked for photographs or video footage during the process of obtaining a report proving their ineligibility for military service, according to Firat Söyle, a lawyer for LAMBDA Istanbul, a gay, lesbian and transsexual rights association, daily Taraf reported last week. Although such a practice is not listed in the regulations, people are still being asked, Söyle said.

In both the 2009 and 2010 of the European Union’s progress reports for Turkey, gays were allegedly asked to provide “photographic proof” of their sexual orientation to avoid service. The Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, however, has denied that it asks for photos or video footage from gays to prove their sexual orientation in response to a recent report from German weekly Der Spiegel on the matter. Der Spiegel claimed in its report that the TSK had “the world’s greatest porno archive” because of its policy of asking for proof of sexual orientation from people who seek military service exemption, daily Milliyet reported Nov. 14.

Asked by Turkish website Gazeteport whether the claims were true, the TSK said it had filed a complaint against the weekly with the German Press Council because of the false claims and demanded a correction. “The TSK absolutely does not ask for photo or video footage from those who say they are gay. Even if a person brings photos or video footage, they are not considered during the process. The claim that TSK archives those kinds of photos is absolutely false,” the military said.

The Der Spiegel article also said people with disabilities were required to fulfill military service as well, a claim that was also denied by the military. “People with disabilities who can prove their situation with a report from a board of doctors are kept exempt from compulsory military service,” the TSK said. The TSK, in its complaint letter to the German Press Council, said the headline of Der Spiegel’s article was “Porno for the General,” which intentionally connected high-ranking officials with pornography and was an deliberate attempt to create a false perception among readers.

7 December 2010 – PinkNews

Homotopia and The Pansy Project go to Istanbul

by Staff Writer,
A gay arts festival and a project to remember victims of anti-gay hate crime visited Istanbul last week. The Turkish city is the 2010 European Capital of Culture and Liverpool-based arts festival Homotopia and The Pansy Project planted hundreds of pansies at the British Consulate. The week-long visit also included presentations and workshops with diplomats, local artists and local gay activists. It is hoped that a Homotopia festival can be held in Turkey in future.

The Pansy Project was created by artist Paul Harfleet. It is described as part memorial and part art installation and a gesture of “quiet resistance”. After a homophobic attack, he finds the closest spot of soil to where the incident occurs and plants one unmarked pansy. The flower is then photographed and given a caption, which often relates to the homophobic abuse shouted at the victim.

Consul-General to Istanbul Jessica Hand, who helped plant pansies at the Consulate, said: “At a first glance, all are pansies but each pansy is different from the other. This is how it is in the society we live in; though we all look alike, we are different from each other.” She added: “I fully support this project. Protecting the rights of minority groups, wherever they may be, is a shared responsibility for all. Prejudice and discrimination are destructive to societies and individuals – tolerance may be more challenging, but it is ultimately more rewarding.”

Homotopia artistic director Gary Everett said: “In a country like Turkey, where prominent politicians find it acceptable to call homosexuality an offence and immoral on the TV and radio, and where many LGBT people still don’t feel able to come out or be accepted, this project is an important and a timely reminder of why such work is vital.” Paul Harfleet added: “The Pansy installation commemorates all victims of transphobic and homophobic violence both in Turkey and around the world and symbolises our resistance and solidarity in protecting these values.”

December 7, 2010 – Foreign Policy

Do Ask, Must Tell
– Turkey’s military doesn’t just discriminate against gays — it humiliates them.

by Piotr Zalewski
Istanbul — As the United States considers repealing the ban on gays serving in the military, they might want to consider consulting their allies in NATO with whom they serve in Afghanistan and Iraq. The vast majority of the organization’s 28-member states allow gays to serve openly. But Turkey offers an instructive, and extreme, contrast.
Where the U.S. "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy has been the subject of fierce political debate since it was launched by Bill Clinton’s administration two decades ago, Turkey’s ban has seen few public challenges. When Turkey’s minister for women’s and family affairs, Selma Aliye Kavaf, declared this March that homosexuality is a "disease that needs treatment," she wasn’t just pandering to popular belief; she was repeating the official stance of the Turkish armed forces. Indeed, Turkey’s gay conscripts are routinely forced to endure humiliation and abuse at the hands of their country’s military authorities.

What makes that fate especially terrible is that it’s practically impossible for Turkish men to avoid exposure to military life, and the burden is on them to prove they are unfit for service. Every man between 20 and 41 years old is required to serve at least six months. Exemptions are granted only under two conditions: a mental or physical disability, and homosexuality. Turkey does not recognize the right to conscientious objection. Fearing rejection by relatives and discrimination by potential employers, many gay men have chosen to lie to army doctors about their sexual orientation. "Because you’re asked at every job interview to say whether you’ve completed your military service, and to explain why not, the decision to get an exemption brands you for life," says S., a gay draftee in his mid-20s, over coffee at a restaurant in Istanbul. "Some people decide to deny their homosexuality and enter the army instead." (To protect the identities of certain people interviewed for this article, their names have been abbreviated with their first initial.)

Many gays also conceal their sexual orientation to avoid the humiliation of having to prove it. According to the official commentary to the army’s health regulation, for a homosexual to be exempted from service, "documentary evidence must prove that the defects in sexual behavior are obvious and would create problems when revealed in a military context." In the military’s understanding, says L., a psychiatrist with experience on military health panels, "If a man is gay, it’s not a problem as long as he is not behaving that way." According to S., "You have to prove that your homosexuality prevents you from being a soldier, from holding a gun, that it makes you effeminate, that it might affect your safety and make you vulnerable, and that it might endanger the unity of the military."

To seek exemption, therefore, many gay men have to endure pseudo-scientific tests designed to appraise both their homosexuality and the extent to which it might render them "unfit" for service. "Parts of the test I took included having to draw a picture of a tree, a house, and a person," says S. "You’re given a lot of crayons, and then you have to answer why you drew things the way you did." Other gay conscripts report having been asked whether they liked playing with dolls as children or enjoyed wearing women’s clothing. Military psychiatrists who know better have to pretend that there is a scientific value to such examinations, says L., "because it’s in the regulations."

Astoundingly, some gays also report that they were asked to produce photographs showing them as participants in anal intercourse. Even then, Turkish authorities are said to apply special criteria. According to the military, and Turkish society at large, penetrating another man does not necessarily qualify as a homosexual act; only being penetrated is undisputedly homosexual. Hence the unwritten rule when it comes to such photos: "The man should be in the passive position, K., a gay man in his mid 20s who works at an NGO, was called up to the military this year. "The first time I went for a medical examination," he recalls, "I told the psychiatrist in charge I was gay, but he claimed that I was pretending." K. was forced to spend a night in a military psychiatric hospital where, he says, another doctor asked him to provide pictures documenting his homosexuality. K. then asked a friend to take photos as he and his boyfriend had sex in their apartment. At his next meeting with military doctors, K. handed over the prints. The first doctor’s assessment was overturned: K. was declared gay and, as such, ineligible for service. "Mine is not an isolated case," he says. "I know of many other gays who have been asked for photos."

The army flatly denies such claims. In a statement issued recently to Gazeteport, a Turkish news website, the Turkish General Staff’s information office asserted that the military "absolutely does not ask for photo or video footage from those who say they are gay. Even if a person brings photos or video footage, they are not considered during the process."

Read Article

January 2011 – IGLHRC

Turkey: Transgender Activists Under Attack

Pembe Hayat, or Pink Life, activist group from Turkey.
On May 17th, 2010, a few hours after the end of a ceremony marking the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, five transgender activists were arbitrarily stopped by police. Upon the activists’ refusal to be detained without reason, the police resorted to violence. The activists were handcuffed, beaten with batons, kicked, and sprayed with tear gas, before being taken to the police station. Witnesses to the incident reported that the police screamed at the activists, "Faggots, next time we will kill you!" The women, members of Pembe Hayat LGBTT Solidarity Group – an Ankara-based transgender rights organization – were indicted by Ankara’s public prosecutor and charged with resisting authorities. This was before the prosecutor had even concluded an investigation into their complaint of ill-treatment.

IGLHRC, in collaboration with Pembe Hayat and human rights groups in Europe and the U.S., led a successful international campaign in support of the activists. We issued a press release and sent a strong letter to Turkish authorities protesting these human rights violations and calling for the charges to be dropped immediately. The case received broad media attention, in part due to IGLHRC’s campaign, within and outside of Turkey. Finally, in late October 2010, the charges against the women were dismissed by the presiding judge for lack of evidence. The judge reprimanded the police for their mistreatment of the activists and referred to their actions as “totally wrong.”

This case is but one example of a pattern of violence and discrimination faced by the transgender community in Turkey. Amidst a series of social, political and legal reforms implemented by Turkey as it seeks membership in the European Union, Turkey’s LGBT community experiences systematic violence, discrimination and prejudice. Although same-sex activity is not criminalized, Turkish LGBT people face violence and exclusion within their families and communities – it is not uncommon for families to disown their LGBT children. Despite increasing international pressure, in particular from European countries, the government has, so far, failed to pass any legislation to protect the LGBT community. In the face of extreme violence, this is unacceptable.

Over the past 20 months, at least 12 transgender people have been murdered across the country in hate-motivated crimes. There are also many other cases of targeting and mistreatment of transgender women by police, who often detain and harass gay men and transgender people on spurious charges. Turkish law-enforcement authorities regularly enforce a range of laws against transgender people, particularly the Law of Misdemeanors (No. 5326) that purports to protect public order and security. Research by non-governmental organizations has shown that, as is the case in so many other jurisdictions around the world, the law’s broad and ambiguous language is used to justify unfair harassment of anyone deemed “undesirable,” particularly transgender people. These laws must be repealed and replaced with effective legal protections against discrimination.

6 January 2011 – PinkNews

Turkish LGBT group shut down by court

by Staff Writer,
Another Turkish LGBT organisation has been ordered to close. A criminal court in Bursa, north-west Turkey, ruled that the Rainbow Association must shut down after claims by the local government that its members had engaged in prostitution. However, the LGBT group denies the allegations and says that no illegal activity has taken place.

Rainbow Association president Öykü Evren Özen said his group would appeal the ruling. He added that the group would continue operating during the appeal and would reform under a new name if unsuccessful. According to the Gay Middle East website, the Bursa local government has been “harassing” the Rainbow Association since early 2007 and has previously denounced it as “immoral”.

The January 2nd ruling follows a lawsuit originally brought against the group in 2008. Lawyer Esra Yener told English-language website bianet that even if Rainbow Association members were working as prostitutes outside the group, it would be contrary to the law to associate their activities with the organisation. Gay Middle East pointed out that Turkey, as a member state of the Council of Europe and part of the United Nations, has signed both the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The website urged the Turkish government to quickly pass a bill to uphold the rights of LGBT people. At least three other Turkish LGBT groups have fought legal challenges to stay open in the past six years. In 2009, Lambda Istanbul was granted permission to continue operating after it was ordered to be dissolved the previous year.

Ankara-based group Kaos GL was ordered to close in 2005 by city deputy governor, Selahattin Ekmenoglu. The closure petition was dismissed by prosecutors. Last year, The Black Pink Triangle Association of Izmir was taken to court after the city of Izmir accused it of immorality. It later won the right to stay open.

25 February 2011 – Bianet

Transgender Individuals Sued after Groundless Custody –
Three activists of the Pink Life LGBT Association are sued for alleged resistance against the police. They had refused to be taken to the police station without a concrete reason. The complaining police officers failed to appear at any of the hearings.

by Burçin Belge
Three activists of the Pink Life Association stand trial for alleged resistance against the police. The three members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization were stopped by the police in a traffic control in Ankara. After checking their IDs, the police decided to take the three individuals to the police station without giving a reason. This was the third hearing of the case against the LGBT activists. As in the two previous sessions, the complaining police officers again failed to appear at court. The defence lawyers stated that there was no evidence that would confirm the allegations and requested their clients’ acquittal.

The judge decided to review a CD that contains footage of the three activists being exposed to violence while they were taken into police custody and to investigate the statements of the lawyers related to a solution. The police officers were absent despite a decision to appear on compulsion. The Ankara 15th Criminal Court of First Instance decided that they had to attend the following hearing on 3 May.

"Criminal complaint of Pink Life members not considered"
The Pink Life Association criticized in an announcement that trials against defenders of transgender people’s rights were being continued while criminal complaints filed by transgender activist who were exposed to violence did not advance at all. "Transgender individuals are in the focus of violence every day. They remain even more defenceless in the aspect of the negative attitude of the judiciary against transgender individuals and regarding the impassiveness towards arbitrary custodies or applications of violence by the police".

Arbitrary application of Law on Misdemeanour
The police stopped the three transgender human rights defenders on 19 June 2010 on the busy Baglar Avenue in Ankara. The police wanted to take them to the police station by reason of the Law on Misdemeanour and was going to apply a monetary fine. The Pink Life members protested the applications. Thereupon, the police made the three individuals to leave their car and took them into custody. The three persons later on filed a criminal complaint by reasons of ill-treatment and insult experienced at the Esat Police Station. At the same time, two police officers complained about the three activists.

The complaint of the three Pink Life members was not being considered, whereas the complaint filed by the police officers resulted in a trial under allegations of "resistance against the police", "insult" and "harming public property". The defendants are facing prison terms of between six months and three years. The first two hearings were held in October and December 2010. The court decided to bring in the two complainants on compulsion after they had not appeared at either of the sessions.

Similar cases resulted in acquittal
Five other transgender human rights defenders, also members of the Pink Life organization, experienced police violence and ill-treatment on 17 May 2010 in the same area. Subsequently, they stood trial on charges of "resistance to the police" and "insult of a civil servant on duty". The case was criticised by the European Human Rights Commission, the Council of Europe and international human rights organizations. At the first hearing, the judge decided for the acquittal of the defendants due to lack of evidence for the alleged offences. (BB/VK)

28 May 2011 – GME

Turkey bans internet domain names with the word gay!

by Dan Littauer, Executive Editor
The word "gay" and its turkish pronunciation "gey" have been banned from Turkish Internet domain names. Any sites containing such words faces immediate closure. The Turkish Telecommunications Directorate sent a list of 138 words to Turkish web-hosting firms on Thursday, ruling the words are not allowed to feature in domain names and websites that do use them will be shut down.

Any combination of a domain name with these words would be banned. For example: (meaning, would not be permitted to operate as it has the word "anal" in its name! Websites cannot have the number 31 in their domain names either because it is slang for male masturbation. Even the word “yasak” (forbidden) is banned!

Gay Middle East calls upon the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate to review its list and omit gay and gey as banned words, as this contravenes various international agreement Turkey is a signatory to. In addition it can be constituted as a homophobic decision.

Source Hürriyet Daily News

June 19, 2011 – Hurriyet Daily News

Istanbul becoming proud of Pride Week

by Emrah Guler
Istanbul – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s LGBT communities and their supporters will be flying the rainbow flag high as Istanbul’s 19th Pride Week kicks off Monday. A week of events will be capped by next week’s Pride Parade, during which thousands will march against discrimination. The Hürriyet Daily News talks to event organizer Rüzgar Gökçe Gözüm about the week’s history.

It’s that time of the year for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, people to put on their high heels, get their rainbow flags out of the closet and strut their stuff on the street to Lady Gaga’s anthem on acceptance, “Born This Way.” June is Pride Month in many countries as LGBT communities the world hold events in time with the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots that kick-started the gay rights movement in the United States. While the colorful, often stereotyped, and mostly marginalized photos of Pride parades around the world are splashed over the pages of newspapers in Turkey, not much is seen or read about the country’s very own Pride Week, which began nearly two decades ago and returns this year on Monday. The very first Pride Week goes back to 1993 when the organization of the events opened the way for the establishment of lambdaistanbul, the biggest LGBT organization in Turkey.

“A group of LGBT people that would be the backbone of lambdaistanbul wanted to organize a Pride Parade back in 1993. However, the Istanbul Governor’s Office didn’t give permission,” Rüzgar Gökçe Gözüm, a volunteer both for lambdaistanbul and an organizer of Pride Week, told the Hürriyet Daily News this week in an interview about the week’s upcoming events, Pride Week’s history and the difficulties of planning and running a highly visible LGBT event in Turkey. “The group then decided to organize a Pride Week, in which there would be meetings and panels, with events held at closed locations. The objective at first was to reach out to as many LGBT individuals as possible.”

It was not until Pride Week’s 10th anniversary that the event closed with a parade. “The first Pride Parade took place on Istiklal Avenue with the participation of not more than 30 people. But the number increased exponentially each year, with around 5,000 people gathering and marching against homophobia and transphobia last year,” Gözüm said.

Parade increases visibility
Asked what kind of impact the increasing participation in the Pride Parade had on the LGBT cause, she said, “Our visibility increased tremendously, which, in turn, meant we were able to reach out even further.” Pride Week includes a diverse range of events from workshops and panels to film screenings and parties, covering issues on discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and hate crimes. “While there’s a certain number of people joining the parade, we are able to reach out to many people through our selection of events,” she said.

Last year’s themes at Pride Week were family, hate crimes and religion. This year, the events will center around themes of taboos and laws – “themes that have an impact on everyone, not only LGBT communities,” she said. Issues such as gender roles, the institutionalized family, politics of the body and identity, the patriarchal urban structure, transformation, as well as the politics of discrimination, are some of the issues that will be discussed at this year’s Pride Week. Although lambdaistanbul is the organizer the event, Pride Week is essentially a volunteer event, a collaborative effort among organizations and individuals supporting LGBT causes. Gözüm said the organization was apprehensive about receiving sponsorship from major companies and brands – as happens in some Western countries – because those “Pride events are stripped of their political nature and transformed into ‘carnivals.’” Still, the organization receives modest financial support from certain nongovernmental organizations and consulates.

No help from authorities
“Primarily, it’s difficult to organize an event of this scale with financial limitations,” Gözüm said in discussing some of the challenges facing the event’s organization. “But a bigger problem is finding venues. Either the venues are all booked or they’re asking for unreasonable amounts. And there are those places that keep us waiting until the last day, or change their minds at the last minute.” Another problem is the treatment by the state. “While municipalities in Europe and the U.S. are opening their doors wide to LGBT organizations, you can’t even get an appointment here. We are not receiving any support from the municipality or the government. Sometimes, it comes to the point that we are willing to forego any support as long as they don’t cause problems,” she said.

The celebration of differences, politics of identity and good old-fashioned fun go hand in hand at the Istanbul Pride Week. This year the colors of the rainbow will hopefully fly even higher with more participation both in the events and in the parade next Sunday that will close Pride Week. Check for the detailed program.

22 June 2011 – Gay Middle East

Turkey – Amnesty report reveals widespread discrimination against LGBT people

by Amnesty International
People in Turkey are often compelled to conceal their sexuality from employers, officials and their own families due to fear of violence and prejudice, according to a new report launched by Amnesty International today (21 June). Hate crimes, including violent attacks and murders, are prevalent but largely ignored by the authorities. Transgender women are at particular risk of such attacks says the report, which highlights the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in a country where there are no provisions to prevent it.

Amnesty International is calling on the Turkish authorities to amend the constitution to prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Laws should be brought into force that will protect LGBT people from widespread discrimination, including from officials in health services, education, housing and the workplace. At Pride marches across the UK this summer, Amnesty will be asking people to take action in solidarity with LGBT people in Turkey, by adding a picture of themselves, holding up the message “Turkey: Human rights are my Pride!” to a Flickr photo petition at

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey, said:
“The pervasive prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey and the fear of ostracism and attacks, means that many feel compelled to conceal their sexual orientation, even from their families. Homophobic statements by government officials have encouraged discrimination against individuals. Rather than repeat past failures, the new government must respect and protect their rights through words and actions. It is the responsibility of all the parties in the Parliament to ensure that any new constitutional settlement in Turkey outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexuality or gender identity. Comprehensive legislation to counter discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is a must – and it should come as soon as possible. However, the authorities must also show the political will to combat discrimination by demonstrating that homophobic public discourse is unacceptable.”

Amnesty’s 50-page report, “Not an illness nor a crime: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey demand equality”, also reveals how transgender women can suffer particular abuse. Of the 104 transgender women who took part in a survey conducted by the LGBT solidarity organisation Lambda Istanbul in 2010, more than 89 per cent said that they had previously been victims of physical violence in police detention.

Arbitrary fines issued by police officers against transgender women going about their daily lives amount to systematic harassment and a punishment due to their gender identity. Those who challenge this practice can face threats and violence from the police.

June 27, 2011 – CNN

Turkish gay pride march draws thousands

by Jeremiah Bailey-Hoover, For CNN
Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) — Thousands of Turks marched through Istanbul in a demonstration calling for improved rights and greater social acceptance for the country’s homosexual community. Activists say the annual Turkish Gay Pride Parade, now in its ninth year, is the only march of its kind in a majority-Muslim country. Several thousand supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights carried signs and rainbow flags as they made their way down one of Istanbul’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfares.
Participants chanted slogans against harassment and blew whistles, waved large rainbow flags and carried signs in Turkish and English that sported messages like "We’re everywhere, get used to it" and "Dance, dance, against homophobia, dance."

Other signs referenced Ahmet Yildiz, a 26-year-old who was shot to death in Istanbul in 2008. Yildiz’s father has been accused of traveling almost 600 miles to shoot him in what has been called an "honor killing." According to Yildiz’s partner, Ibo, Yildiz sought protection from prosecutors after receiving threats of violence from his family. His case was featured in an Amnesty International report on the status of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals in Turkey entitled "Not An Illness, Nor A Crime." The report says it later emerged that the prosecutor’s office erroneously transferred the complaint to another office and failed to investigate the claims, in what some activists view as the unwillingness of the authorities to confront homophobic violence.

The political impact of gay marriage
Sunday’s march blurred ethnic and religious lines. A group of about 20 Kurdish activists, fleeing police tear gas that was fired at an unrelated nearby political demonstration, were greeted by a round of applause as they joined the colorful crowd. Tear gas from the same demonstration wafted over parts of the crowd, causing the march to stall briefly as people took cover to stave off its effects.
Gay rights organizations have accused Turkey’s government of expressing hostile attitudes toward the country’s homosexual community. Activists point to a statement made by Aliye Kavaf, Turkey’s minister for women and family affairs.

"I believe homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness, and should be treated," she said in a 2010 interview with the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. One parade-goer, who was a part of a tango group moving through the crowd, wore a bright red head scarf with a checkered red, black, and white tie as she danced with her partner. The dancer, who wears a head scarf in daily life, said that Islam and homosexuality are not incongruous. "Religion is not a fixed thing," said Iz, who declined to provide her last name. "It has been interpreted throughout history, is still being interpreted and it needs to evolve."

In accession talks with the European Union, Turkey has been gradually improving its record on homosexuality as it makes changes to conform to EU policy on human rights laws. Many marchers on Sunday came out to improve social consciousness of homosexuality. "The big-bellied, mustached men are looking, trying to figure out what’s going on. They’re learning what a rainbow is," said Natalie Aslan, 23.

3 July 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

Video: Discrimination and violence against LGBT in Turkey

Source: AmnestyFrance


04 Aug, 2011 – Oram International

Report Shows Improvement in Handling of LGBTI Refugees in Turkey

Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM), a U.S.-based non-profit organization that helps refugees fleeing sexual and gender-based violence worldwide, issued a new report showing significant progress in how the UN Refugee Agency treats lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees in Turkey, and urging the government of Turkey to curb the increasing anti-LGBTI violence there.

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM), a U.S.-based non-profit organization that helps refugees fleeing sexual and gender-based violence worldwide, issued a new report showing significant progress in how the UN Refugee Agency treats lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees in Turkey, and urging the government of Turkey to curb the increasing anti-LGBTI violence there.

"Unsafe Haven" is co-authored with Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Turkey, the country’s leading refugee advocates. The report draws on in-depth interviews with 108 LGBTI refugees, most from Iran, who fled to Turkey for safety after being persecuted in their home countries because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

An update on a 2009 report by the same name, "Unsafe Haven" shows how ORAM’s groundbreaking work with partner organizations, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey, has led to dramatic improvements in the treatment of LGBTI persons in the refugee system – most notably by reducing their wait times for legal status and resettlement to the U.S. and other safe countries. At the same time, the report depicts an increased environment of hostility toward sexual minorities – including 45 murders last year alone – and urges Turkey to do more to protect them.

“LGBTI refugees are already among the most vulnerable asylum seekers in Turkey. Amidst increasing threats and violence against LGBTI people, we see a beacon of hope in the steps local and international organizations are taking to protect this population. However, much more needs to be done,” said Neil Grungras, Executive Director of ORAM.

Among its key recommendations, the report urges the Turkish government, civil society and the international community to take action to:
— Enact legislation protecting LGBTI people from hate crimes and discrimination;
— Treat LGBTI refugees with sensitivity and respect; and
— Increase resettlement of LGBTI refugees to safe countries.

View original article here (pdf)(

August 28, 2011 –

Turkey fails to live up to standard

by Emilie Eaton
Two and a half months ago, I began preparing for a one-month study abroad program in Istanbul, Turkey to study journalism. Many people questioned my decision to travel to a country that still associates with the Middle East. I explained to them that Turkey was a fairly developed country with a democratic secular political system. And while this is true — I still had a naive outlook on the nation that would become my home for the next month.

Turkey is perhaps one of the most developed countries in the Middle East, but there are still many issues facing the country. In recent months, many commentators and activists have called for countries like Libya and Egypt to model their new government after Turkey. Certainly, Libya and Egypt should take Turkey’s model into consideration, but they should also recognize the blatant violations of human rights that still exist in Turkey. This column is the first of three columns that will address the biggest human rights issues facing Turkey — the first of which is LGBT rights.

The LGBT community in Turkey faces significant discrimination, violence and hatred, and many gay Turks cannot find support or protection from any part of society. Discrimination is present everywhere. For example, Aliye Kavaf, a government official, told the Turkish newspaper The Hurriyet that “Homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness and should be treated.” An Amnesty International Report published in 2011 documented the story of Ahmet Yildiz, a Turkish man who many believe was killed by his family for his sexual orientation.

Yildiz’s murder is suspected to be an ‘honor killing’, Amnesty International reports. Families, horrified by their children’s sexual identity, decide to kill them “honorably.” This story may shock many Americans, but it is common in Turkey. It not only demonstrates the astonishing amount of prejudice that exists in Turkish society, but also the tendency of the judicial system of ignoring violence in the LGBT community, and failing to serve justice. It has been three years, and no one has been convicted of Yildiz’s murder.

Police and military are also a party that oppresses the Turkish LGBT community. “(Turkey’s LGBT) are often berated, beaten or imprisoned by the very police and military that should be protecting them,” said Phyllis Guest in the newspaper the Dallas Voice. Demet Demir, a transgender woman who volunteers for LGBT organizations in Istanbul, has encountered violence firsthand by police. She spent two years in jail and was teased relentlessly for her sexual orientation. Prison guards made her cut her long hair and wear men’s clothing.

I had the honor of speaking to Demir while I was in Turkey, and she also recounted the story of a transgender who was attacked by police and shot in the leg. The woman was paralyzed, Demir said through an interpreter, and pursued a lawsuit. However, she agreed to drop the lawsuit once the police bribed her with the equivalent of approximately $1,000. The examples are numerous and omnipresent. Discrimination and violence exists in government, military, law and families. Turkey’s government has allowed this discrimination and violence to become widespread, and has refused to take steps to ensure the safety of the LGBT community. The government needs to take notable measures now to become the great nation many believe it already to be.

13 September 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

Paper: Credibility issues of LGBTI asylum seekers in Turkey

by Marta D’Epifanio
Recent research has shown how after a general acceptance of the fact that it is a human right to live out sexual orientation and gender identity and claim the refugee status on the persecution on such ground, the process to prove the genuinity of such an identity has encountered several obstacles. While usually information and reports come from English speaking countries and common law jurisdictions where the asylum procedure is run by different institutions, the UNHCR runs the refugee status determination (RSD) procedure in Turkey. Turkey has ratified the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol which removed the previous limitations; however, despite many calls for the lifting of the limitation, Turkey still maintains the geographical ban created by the Refugee Convention

It was not until September 2008 that UNHCR started to include sexual orientation or gender identity as a field ‘of action’. That same year, UNHRC issued a guidance note recognizing that individuals being persecuted due to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) should be considered to be ‘fleeing due to membership of a particular social group.’ This applies to Turkey too so that in the aftermath of the decision by the UNHCR, asylum seekers are either resettled to a third country or deported. Despite these limitations, Turkey is the recipient of the largest number of Iranian LGBTI refugees because of its position in close proximity to the Islamic Republic of Iran and because it does not require a visa for Iranians. that prevents the resettlement of non-European refugees inside the country. Non-European asylum seekers are considered as ‘temporary asylum seekers’ and are allowed by the ‘foreigners’ police to stay in the country while waiting for the assessment and decision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In this paper I will address the process of credibility assessment for LGBTI asylum seekers in the interviewing process by the UNHCR in Turkey, differences from earlier years and what are the indicators considered in order to ‘confirm’ a LGBTI identity.

21 September 2011 – Today’s Zaman

LGBT gains recognition from government for first time

Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Sahin, who met with civil society organizations on Wednesday to discuss violence against women, also invited a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender [LGBT] organization to the meeting, the first time the LGBT community has been represented at a meeting organized by the government. Belgin Çelik from LGBT organization the Pink Life Association expressed her gratitude to Minister Sahin and told reporters following the meeting that she had submitted a proposal for the acceptance of homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals in the new constitution that Parliament plans to draft in the coming legislative year.

Sahin encouraged the proposal, saying, “We would like to actively work with you and your participation and suggestions will help us learn and acknowledge the problems you face.” Calling on members of Parliament to handle the proposal positively, which concerns gender identity and sexual orientation, Sahin asserted that “if freedom and equality is for everybody, then sexual orientation discrimination should be eliminated and rights of these [LGBT] citizens should be recognized.”

New standards for women shelters
Sahin also commented on new reforms discussed last month that aim to improve the standards of shelters. Sahin told reporters at the meeting that it is not right for women who face all kinds of problems, including abuse, prostitution and economic hardship, to live together in the same place and that these women should be separated into different rooms or shelters depending on their problems so that there needs can be best served. According to the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, there are only 65 shelters in the entire country, which is insufficient with the rising number of women suffering from abuse. Sahin said a law stipulating that women’s shelters should be opened in all cities and districts with a population of more than 50,000 would be considered by Parliament.

September 27, 2011 – Care2 Make a Difference

Will Turkey Listen to LGBT Representatives?

by Paul Canning
Turkey has taken one small step forward for LGBT recognition with, for the very first time, a government minister meeting LGBT representatives. The Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) Association were invited to a meeting with civil society organizations on Wednesday, September 21 to discuss violence against women with Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Sahin. Belgin Çelik from Pembe Hayat told reporters following the meeting that she had submitted a proposal for the acceptance of homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals in the new constitution that Parliament plans to draft in the coming legislative year.

Sahin encouraged the proposal, saying:
“We would like to actively work with you and your participation and suggestions will help us learn and acknowledge the problems you face.”

Pro-gay Turkish MP Aylin Nazliaka has asked for LGBT groups to be consulted over the new constitution.

Calling on members of Parliament to handle the proposal positively, Sahin said:
“If freedom and equality is for everybody, then sexual orientation discrimination should be eliminated and rights of these [LGBT] citizens should be recognized.”

However, Turkish MPs may face a problem reading any proposals. A report last week said that web access in the Turkish Parliament to the websites of various LGBT organizations is blocked and workers or MPs have to submit a written request for them to be unblocked. Blocking of LGBT and other online content is widespread in Turkey. In May, there was a huge protest against the internet filtering system. According to a representative of Lambdada Istanbul. “BTK (The Information Technologies and Communication Authority) has determined some banned words from domain names. ’Gay’ and ‘lesbian’ are on this list. Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) Association, an LGBT organization in Ankara, has been warned by their web hosting company saying their website might be shut down. There is no pornographic content whatsoever on Pembe Hayat’s website but they have been warned just because they use those words.”

In June, Amnesty International published ‘Not an illness nor a crime: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey demand equality.‘ It said: “Not a single provision has been brought before Parliament to protect the right to non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Instead, there has been a long line of discriminatory statements by government officials from which the government has failed to distance itself or issue apologies for.”

October 12, 2011 – CBS News

"Honor killings" target Turkey’s LGBT community

by GlobalPost’s Jodi Hilton.
Istanbul – On the walls of buildings and along the back alleys of the trendy Tunel neighborhood here in an old part of the city, graffiti art of a ruggedly handsome man with a beard and gentle eyes first began appearing in 2008.
Three years later the black-and-white image, drawn by a renowned Japanese manga named Gengoroh Tagame and carrying the slogan "Ahmet Yildiz is My Family" has become ubiquitous.

An international community of friends, activists and civil rights supporters have posthumously adopted Ahmet Yildiz as a brother and as a cause, they say, after his father killed him for being gay. "Ahmet’s so-called family killed him," reads a blog established in the wake of his death. "Fortunately, he still has a real one: Us." Ahmet’s father, Yahya Yildiz, stands charged with murder after traveling 600 miles, allegedly hunting his son down and then shooting him five times on July 15, 2008. It is viewed as the country’s first reported anti-gay "honor killing." And critics say that after three years, a pattern of indifference by the police in prosecuting the crime underscores the injustice.

The long history of "honor killing" against women and girls is well documented in the Middle East and elsewhere. But LGBT activists in Turkey and around the world say homosexuals are now increasingly targeted. They fear that a series of attacks targeting gay and transgendered Turks is a backlash against the LGBT community’s rising profile in a country where the official stance on homosexuality is that it is an "illness." Honor crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are hard to document in Turkey. Human rights advocates say they are often quietly covered up by families and that police often avoid investigating such crimes. The Yildiz murder has been closely watched by activists and now a new case of "honor killing" is drawing considerable attention.

Read complete article here

October 20, 2011 – Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees Inc.(IRQR)

The Situation of Iranian Queer Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Turkey

by Arsham Parsi, Executive Director of the IRQR with assist of Pelin Gul,Volunteer Researcher
A rapid increase of number of Iranian queer asylum-seekers and refugees continues as the political situation in Iran affects more people. The hope of hundreds of Iranian queers who leave their country is to live freely and not have any problems because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Instead, they have endless legal problems in Iran as well as being subject to discrimination, intolerance and hate crime and discomfort. They feel that they are like unwanted guests – and that feeling paves the way for a deeper humanitarian crisis.

Turkey continues to be a transit country for many refugee and asylum seekers, especially from Middle East, Asian and African countries. According to the 2011’s UNHCR country operations profile, Turkey maintains a geographic reservation to the 1951 Refugee Convention. That Convention provides that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for rea¬sons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is out¬side the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

However, in accordance with Turkey’s status as a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), the Government has committed itself to harmonizing its legislation with that of the EU on asylum and related areas, such as migration, border management and administrative and judicial reform. This commitment is the foundation for discussions concerning the potential lifting of the geographical reservation to the Convention.

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