A Kaos GL Representative in IGLYO

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hakan from Kaos GL was chosen as a board member of  International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organization (IGLYO), so that we had an interview with him on the election and the importance of having a close contact with IGLYO.

In the last annual conference of IGLYO, Hakan from Kaos GL became a board member of the Organization. Hence, we had an interview with him about the election and the importance of having a close contact with IGLYO.

First of all congratulations Hakan! As a young person, I’m giving so much importance to your active participation to IGLYO an international LGBTI youth organization. How is everything started, could you tell us?

Kaos GL got in touch with IGLYO firstly in 2009. After Kaos Youth the youth group of Kaos had reached out IGLYO, Kaos became a member of the organization. However, a period when IGLYO had planned its annual conference in Tel Aviv, their connection had weaken, because Kaos supported three Palestinian LGBTI organizations (AIQaws, Aswat ve PQBDS) while they were boycotting the IGLYO’s executive board that had decided to organize the event in Israel.   After IGLYO had announced a statement that location of the meeting would have been put to the vote, Kaos GL and Pink Life published an open letter to IGLYO that the issue could not be open to democracy. Then, the conference was not taken place in Israel, but the relationship of the two organizations started to get weaken due to that manner.

I went to a meeting of IGLYO at the end of 2014 for the first time and I thought that we could also be part of their executive board.  They had not had any Turkish board member before, while they had from Armenia, and now from Serbia. I also thought board of IGLYO should have diversified geographically. It is also a part of IGLYO’s regulations: gender identity distribution both equally and geographically... I have been thinking about it since 1 year, then this year I applied and it happened.

According to you, what is the importance to be part of IGLYO worldwide?

IGLYO is an international LGBTI organization that was created in 1984 as a reaction to the need for better cooperation among regional, local and national LGBTQ youth and student organizations. It is an umbrella organization which has more than 90 member organizations in more than 40 countries. That means it has a wide range individual membership, so IGLYO advocates on behalf of all of its member organizations to European and international institutions, and headquartered in Brussels, IGLYO is situated to lobby EU and UN decision makers on issues affecting LGBTQ young people. That is, through IGLYO as an umbrella organization, Kaos GL can reach out many other international institutions which are normally hard to interact.

IGLYO is also a great chance for networking activities; for example, when I went to an IGLYO meeting , I could meet seventy activist from many different countries. Now it is almost impossible to take action on anything against the government because of the state of emergency in Turkey, but such institutions like IGLYO give us chance for our actions on the international level.

So at that point how can IGLYO make a contribution to the LGBTI organizations in Turkey? What do you think?

In the last July, IGLYO organized a regional meeting with the participation of the member countries such as Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Turkey. As a result of the meeting I can say that they give so much importance to capacity development activities, and they want to focus on the regional problems without ignoring the geo-political reality. This is a need for the organizations in Turkey and so important for the regional reports as well. For example, Kaos GL has been working on the regional report with ERA, a West Balkan- Turkey organization by considering the reality of the region.

Currently IGLYO is conducting a study on an education system in Europe in which they research the social inclusion of the European education system. As Kaos GL study group, we are also planning to participate the study in order to analyse what is more and less, so we will be able to develop a further study according to the results of that.

After being part of such an international organization, you might also face with some bothering comments like “You are trying to adapt studies reflecting the other countries’ reality into Turkey…etc”. How is your response for this kind of interpretations?

In the executive board elections there I talked about the state of emergency in Turkey and the increasing number of violence cases. The other country representatives also talked about their problems. Then you realize that just negative situations became the subjects of the meeting. But sometimes I can say that: it is not our reality, because even the problems of West and East Europe are very different. How can we develop a common solution for all these?… Therefore, I think that those meetings should focus more on experience sharing, because whatever their realities are, every country certainly turns some sharp bends for enhancement.

During my election speech, I mentioned several crisis management points which I have learnt thanks to Kaos GL; for example, how we can form defense/ resistance mechanisms for violence against Pride Parade. After my recommendation for these kinds of information/ experience sharing, another organization agreed with me that in the European Commission we could touch such points and look the situation from different point of views etc.

As Kaos GL, of course we work by taking the conditions of Turkey into consideration, but we can also see clearly the importance of solidarity at the international level particularly in the time of crisis. As a result, by considering these discourses we should benefit from the international solidarity and cooperation.

Turkey is regarded as “20 years behind Europe” in terms of LGBTI movement. That means after 20 years Turkey would be the same with today’s UK, for example. As we mentioned some certain turning points/ bends before, do you think that every country experience this movement in the same way? With respect to your overseas experiences, do you think that this process (time) passes stable for each country? 

Not at all… Before judging Turkey with falling behind of Europe, for example, we should firstly consider the conditions and realities of Turkey. I think that the pioneers of the movement in Turkey in the late 80s and in the beginning of 90s had taken proper steps by considering the social reality of Turkey at that time.

In this context, 20 years ago UK was experiencing 90s, but now as we can see the situation here it is not like their 90s actually, because social conditions are not the same with 90s. At the same time, when we look at Turkey’s momentum in the last decade by considering the current social conditions, we can clearly see our improvements particularly in the last 6-7 years. Therefore, Turkey’s momentum will determine this process/ time in the long run.

I think the same with you. For instance, the movement is spreading more quickly in terms of the extent of awareness, but not in terms of the legal extent. I mean, while discussing the ‘falling behind’ issue, we should consider each aspect of the movement separately. 

Yes, I agree. In the legislative level, we could not gain a lot, but in the social level no one can deny the changes and improvements which LGBTI organizations have made.

In this respect, the effect of the media is also so important. In the past, LGBTI issues had taken place in the news just with violence or rejection, but now Pride Parade, for example, can be shown even in 10 seconds in the news.

Yes we can see the changes in the media also. For me it is because of the popularity firstly, but still it is important to make interviews with trans-artists on gender identity etc.

Let’s go back to IGLYO… IGLYO is a youth organization, so it is important for us to cooperate with the student organizations. Especially after 2013 number of LGBTI student groups has increased and they started to internalize the movement.

Absolutely! Increase in the number of LGBTI youth organization has accelerated the dynamics of the movement. In other words, it is not the LGBTI associations’ problem/ responsibility anymore, because youth groups can also form their dynamics and develop their solutions for their problems.

It’s so important to have youth branches within the movement because today’s youth resistance is very different from the one 20 years ago. Now their experiences can light our way, but adopting the same way of organization today is to move away from today’s conditions and to come from behind actually. What I mean here is to benefit from their past experiences but to draw our own way of struggle by considering the current situations and practices.

Exactly at that point it is important to join such groups like IGLYO. Even among the cities in Turkey experiences and conditions are differentiated, and each movement in each city can learn something different from each other. Therefore, it is so precious to be in an open international platform like IGLYO to share experiences and benefit from each other.

For now just 3 organizations from Turkey are members of IGLYO, but I think that the more the number of organizations from Turkey be part of IGLYO, the more we can reveal our reality there. As the last words, I invite all youth groups to join to IGLYO! :)

Translation: Damla Umut Uzun

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