Human Rights / Education

The first official LGBTI student club at a Turkish state university

Monday, December 9, 2013
The Queer Studies Club to work against heterosexism was officially established within the scope of the Cultural and Sport Clubs at Galatasaray University (GSÜ). The Board of Management’s decision on November 28 was publicly announced on December 5. With this decision, the club became the first LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex) student community to be officially acknowledged at a state university in Turkey.
Research Associate Dr. İdil Engindeniz, who is a member of the Kaos GL Association, will be the club’s consultant. Engindeniz stated that their aim with this club is to create an archive which includes academic and non-academic studies undertaken at the university on the subject of ‘queer’.
One of the students who contributed to the foundation of the club, Seçil, answered’s questions concerning the club and its official recognition.
How did the team that created the club get together?
The skeleton crew that founded the club already knew each other in some way outside of the university through connections from Lambda or Kaos GL. For instance, I also had met a friend in Gezi Park and then they also came to study at Galatasaray. We both had this idea of founding an LGBTI student community at the university. We talked to a few more friends and thought it over and established Lion Queer. Actually, the foundations were laid on September 30.
Did you expect the university to acknowledge you officially?
The decision of acknowledgement shocked everyone. I used to say in the meetings that we should act as though we were not going to be recognized. We even talked about how not being accepted would create a more challenging attitude. The decision threw us a curveball. But our challenging attitude will not change. Of course we are going to make use of being official, like being able to put up posters, arranging activities, requesting a hall, inviting people to the school; these things are hard to do without permission on our little campus.
What are you planning to do after becoming official? What kind of effects do you think your club will have?
To talk about what we want to do; we want visibility and to create awareness in the university. To put foreign terms such as “queer, heteronormativity, intersex” into people’s heads. To make them realize the psychological and physical violence LGBTIs are subjected to and to fight this violence. We want to show them that not everyone in the school is heterosexual and they do not have to be. For instance, after we started our activities, “There is no place for faggots in this school” was written on toilet walls. So does this mean weren’t there any faggots in the school before? Did this come into their mind just now? Yes, now we’ve made them think about it! That’s why I can even say that I was happy to see that writing. Besides, there may be new LGBTI students coming to the university who are leaving their families. Now they will know that they are not alone.
Translation: LGBTI News Turkey    
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