Symposium against Discrimination took place in Ankara
5th Symposium against Discrimination, which is to be held in dedication to the International Human Rights Day by Kaos GL Association, took place on 8-10 December. This year, the Symposium was held with the theme of “Another Social Work is Possible!” in Hacettepe University Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences Tuğrul Çubukçu Auditorium.
Another social work is possible!
The Symposium started with opening speech of moderator Sema Buz from Hacettepe University. Then Hans Knutagard from Göteborg University took the stage with his presentation on social work and sexuality discussions. During his remarkable speech, Knutagard mentioned his first experiences as a social worker and during this process how he realized that sexuality as a basic issue in every aspect of our lives is omitted in social work field. In order to overcome this problem, he advised all social workers to firstly analyse themselves as social worker and get rid of all of their discriminatory state of minds before working in the field.
In the second session of the first day of the Symposium, with the moderation of Özlem Cankurtaran Nick Mulé from York University gave an informative speech on the responsibilities of social work(er) for LGBTIs. As founder of some queer organizations like Queer Ontario and Ontario LGBT Research & Policy Think Tank by Rainbow Health Ontario Mulé started his speech by explaining the basic concept such as social work, LGBTI, gender equality, sexual diversity and queer. After he mentioned the practical implementations of the theory in terms of social work, he emphasized that due to the fact that LGBTIs facing with prejudices, discrimination, marginalization and oppression in every aspect of their lives, working on these problems is the duty of social workers.
In the last session of December 8, Sema Buz was the moderator again and Özge Arslan, Burcu Yamaner, Erkan Yıldırım, Zeynep Yıldırım, Eren Köse, Tarık Şimşek, Esra Aynacı and Murat Özbek from Social Work Rainbow Forum shared their experiences which they gained during their internships in the field. While they were answering the questions of audiences, they drew attention on the importance of non-heteronormative social work in terms of their experiences with LGBTI clients.
Country- Level Experiences
Different reflections of social work on LGBTIs from different country perspectives were the main theme of the second day of the Symposium. In the first session, Dragana Todorovic from ERA was the moderator, and Marsida Cela from Albenia LGBTI Shelter, Marija Vuletic from CURE/ Bosnia-Herzegovina and Urban Nothdurfter from University of Bozen/ Italy were the speakers. The session started with Dragana Todorovic’s opening speech on the general situation of LGBTIs’ struggle against discrimination in West Balkans. Marija Vuletic as the first speaker firstly told about the situation of LGBTIs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, then emphasized the importance of working and struggling in solidarity in this movement. Then Marsida Cela took the stage, and told about the advantages and problems of their work in the LGBTI shelter in Albenia. Lastly, after shared his experiences on social work in Italy, Urban Nothdurfter emphasized the importance of a holistic view in education of social work.
In the second session of December 9, country-level experiences continue with the speeches of the social workers and experts from Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Firstly, Biljana Ginova from Macedonia LGBT Support Center started to speak, she told about the political crisis in both Macedonia and Turkey, and she added that whereas it is extra hard to fight for LGBTI rights especially in these crisis periods, they keep struggling solidarity with social workers. Second speaker Ivana Vujovic from Juventas/ Montenegro started her speech by mentioning their worries about the violence against trans sex workers in Turkey. Then she added that ‘our regional problems are so similar and there is so much to do, but our capasities are limited. One of the first problems is the sustainability of our work.’ Laslty, Kristian Randjelovic from Serbian Trans and Intersex Services took the stage and drew attention on the invisibility of intersex people, so he mentioned the importance of inclusion of intersex people in addition to anti-discrimination laws.
In the last day of the Symposium, three-round synchronous workshops took place in Neva Palas Hotel, Ankara.
In the firs round, Hans Knutagard had an amazing workshop on Gay and bisexual men raped by men – an invisible groupin social work which was also his academic study. During the workshop he shared his experiences while interviewing/ negotiating with the victims and shared interesting data collected during his researches. At the same time, Hayriye Kara from Kaos GL and Gizem Yıldırım from SHU had a workshop about social work with LGBTI refugees. During the workshop, they talked about the problems of social workers on providing help to LGBTI refugees and discussed the solutions of those problems.
In the second round, there were two synchronous workshops: One was Social Work with Lesbian and Bisexual Women and the other was HIV/AIDS and Social Work. The former was held by Biljana Ginova and Marija Vuletic, and Burcu Yamaner was the moderator. They mentioned the lack of visibility of lesbian-bisexual women on accessing the social services with the examples and experiences from Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia. Meanwhile, Hasan Atik and Yasin Erkaymaz conducted a workshop on HIV/ AIDS and social work.
In the last round, Tess Vo an academician in York University, who also works as a superviser in Griffin Centre which gives services to vulnerable groups such as young people and adults who suffer from mental and physical development impairment, had an informative workshop on Social Work with Disable/ Refugee/ LGBTI Children. At the same time, Kristian Randejlovic fro Serbia, and Şerife Yurtseven and Caner Yavuz activists from Interseks ŞaLaLa shared their experiences on the obstacles of intersex people by accessing social services.
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