Human Rights

Gender Equality and Local Governments Conference held in İzmir

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

“International Conference of Gender Equality and Local Governments” organized by Black Pink Triangle and Kaos GL Associations was held on 23-24th of May in İzmir.

Gender Equality and Local Governments Conference organized in the scope of May 17 the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) was held with the participation of local and international speakers in İzmir.

On 23th of May, Erdem Gürsu from Black Pink Triangle Association, Sinem Tankoç from İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, Asiye Öykür Karaalioğlu from Çankaya Municipality and Eser Atak from İzmir Konak Municipality were given the opening speeches of the Conference. 

Why are we not eaqual?

During the first session of the Conference, “What is gender? And why are we not equal in terms of gender?” was discussed by social psychologist Prof. Dr. Melek Göregenli, Aylime Aslı Demir from Kaos GL and Nazik Işık from Karabağlar City Council. 

With the moderation of Demet Yanardağ from Black Pink Triangle, Prof. Dr. Melek Göregenli started the session by mentioning differences among people. Underlying the misunderstanding that inequalities is driven from our gender or SOGI differences, Göregenli told that the main reason of the inequalities is the system and ideologies we live in.

“While we are talking about struggling with discrimination, firstly we have to look at ourselves. Unless you touch with ‘the different’ and differences in some ways, you cannot realize the discrimination.”

Göregenli finalized her speech with the emphasis on local governments in terms of providing equal services and opportunities to different and unequal groups.    

Secondly, Aylime Aslı Demir spoke about the institutionalized (hetero-)sexism benefiting from the Path Dependency Theory. Mentioning the relation with local governance with this theory, she told: “The paths used by local governments are so heteronormative. Therefore, the first step that municipalities have to take is to find their paths and the ones/ groups who are left out of this path.”

Then, Nazik Işık, the Head of the Karabağlar City Council, gave an encouraging speech to change such inequalities. Mentioning their works and efforts within the Council, Işık told: “All these trainings may seem small and ineffective, but change starts with such steps. We know that we all face with gender inequality, but we also know that another world is possible and we can change it as we want. Therefore, we started to change our locals, and city councils are one of the very efficient mechanisms that we can learn from each other.”

Lastly, Political Scientist Banu Özdemir told about the political participation of women and LGBTIs into the political parties and the parliament by giving statistics of recent years. Özdemir, then, told about the %5 LGBTI quota of the City Councils of Bursa Nilüfer Municipality: “In spite of the negative reactions against this quota, we are all struggling for LGBTI rights, because we are not guests, but the hosts here.”

What can we do together to achieve gender equality?

In the second session of the Conference, “What can we do together to achieve gender equality? What are the roles of the municipalities within this issue?” was discussed by Elif Avcı from İstanbul Şişli Municipality, Equality Ambassador from France Arnaud Gauthier-Fawas, Simon Timmerman from COC Netherlands and Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette from CouleursGaies in France.

With the moderation of Dide Tayfur from Çankaya Municipality, Elif Avcı started the discussion by emphasizing the gender inequalities and invisibility of women and LGBTIs within municipal policies, activities and events. Avcı also reminded that municipalities which ‘has’ gender equality perspective do carry out works for women, but they forget about lesbian, bisexual and trans women. Avcı ended her speech by emphasizing the importance of Equality Units of the Municipalities.

Secondly, Arnaud Gauthier-Fawas from Embassies for Equality established in Paris told about their activities in local level and the guideline they prepared for municipalities. After mentioning the content of the guideline on what can local governments do to enhance LGBTIQ rights, Gauthier-Fawas ended his speech: “When local governments were pushed forward by organizations like us, they can be LGBTIQ-inclusive faster.”

Then Simon Timmerman from COC Netherlands told about their efforts on promoting LGBTI rights in local level in Netherlands. Timmerman also mentioned their latest Project on Rainbow Ballet monitoring how much municipalities would be LGBTI+ inclusive after the forthcoming local elections.

Lasltly, Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette from CouleursGaies told about their struggle on protecting LGBTI rights in France since the beginnig of 90s, and the transformation that society had göne through after all the efforts. Emphasizing the importance of the collaboration with familiar movements and organizations such as feminist organizations, Gatipon-Bachette also underlined the importance of working together with the city councils and the municipalities to achieve the transformation in local level.

If LGBTIs don't demand anything from municipalities, it does not mean they have no problems

Second day of the Conference continued with the same topic with the participation of Simona Topolinjak from Ljubljana Municipality, Ahmet Soner Emre from Konak Municipality and Halim Kır from Bursa Nilüfer Municipality.

In the moderation of Murat Köylü from Kaos GL, the first presentation started with Simona Topolinjak on LGBTI inclusive regulations and implementations of their municipality. Emphasizing the positive developments in Slovenia in terms of advancing human rights, Topolinjak continued to underline the existing needs to achieve the gender equality in the society in terms of LGBTI rights. She told that LGBTI awareness raising in the society was achieved by the action plan they prepared for the local governments and added the current developments such as LGBTI youth works in the city, a certificate for LGBTI inclusive municipalities they prepared, LGBTI awareness raising trainings and activities for public and private sector.

Secondly, Dragana Todorovic from LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey (ERA) started her speech by underlining the importance of the international collaboration and alliances with the Balkans and Turkey. Todorovic told that whereas Western Balkan countries have many rules and laws relating with the advancing LGBTI rights, these are mostly because of the EU accession process and in practice unfortunately discrimination and human rights violations against LGBTIs in the society still continues. She ended her speech with the emphasis on forcing local governments to provide regulations and services for LGBTIs as civil society organizations.

Ahmet Soner Emre from İzmir Konak Municipality told about the forthcoming HIV Test Center and Volunteer Consulting on HIV+/ AIDS issues in the municipality services. Emre told that the new service of Konak Municipality will be completely free and anonymous for the privacy of the consultees.

Laslty, Halim Kır from Equality Unit of Bursa Nilüfer Municipality told about the establishment of the equality unit within the municipality and trainings on LGBTI rights, awareness raising activities they carried out until today. At the end of his speech, Kır told: “If LGBTIs do not demand anything from municipalities, it doesn’t mean that they have no problems, but it means we could not provide an inclusive safe space for them. Therefore, we have to develop our regulations and services to provide more ‘equal’ services.”

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