16/03/2023 | Writer: Defne Güzel

The 2023, which began with a hate crime, is going on with LGBTI+ hostility, under color of the Constitution, and with discrimination deepened after the earthquake…

Violation of rights against LBTI+s in January and February: The Constitution, earthquake, struggle and solidarity Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

Although we witnessed freedom and equality struggle of LGBTI+ movement in various cities last year, we opened our eyes to 2023 with a hate crime. Following trans woman Ecem Seçkin’s murder on January 4, İzmir November 20 Platform went out and said “Ecem Seçkin is our rebellion!” Young LGBTI+ Association stated that they would be a close follower of the judicial process and trans activists made a press statement gathering at the İstanbul Branch of Human Rights Center (İHD). On the other side, Platform for Eryaman-Esat Case raised voice gathering at Pink Life Association and said: “We are not a handful of people, in fact we are thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands of people, whose names are trying to be forgotten.” While People’s Democratic Party (HDP) İzmir MP Serpil Kemalbay submitted a parliamentary question about Ecem Seçkin’s murder, Direnişin Renkleri (Colors of Resistance) hung Ecem Seçkin’s portrait to the walls in İzmir.

Some of the violation of rights reflected in the press in January were as follows:

  • There was an extortion incident in Antalya. A person named Ramazan Y. extorted the person he met through a dating app.
  • Sanction decisions were on the agenda of the meeting held by Radio Television Supreme Council (RTÜK). Virgin Radio received its share of the censorship policy due to the statement including “homosexual relationship between women”.
  • The identity of a trans woman was disclosed in the police station according to the discriminatory news coverage took place in Medyatava..
  • As if the hate attacks being exposed to in İzmir, Turkish Women’s Union spread hatred against LGBTI+s by going house-to-house.
  • The program in which Murat Övüç would take the stage was cancelled as result of provocations and threats.
  • Another violation of right to work was revealed by the statements of Meli Bendeli. Meli Bendeli stated that their role in TV series titled Şahraman was taken away from them because of wearing skirt.
  • Deputy Minister of Interior Mehmet Ersoy pointed LGBTI+ organizations as a target by taking the floor within the context of the program of Leading Workshop for Foreign NGO’s.

A mind-blowing transphobia was experienced at Bakırköy Dr. Sadi Konuk Training and Research Hospital. Infection secretary insulted trans woman who wanted to register. Following her complaint was disregarded by the hospital police, S.A. applied to Patient Rights Unit. S.A. was called and told “necessary action will be taken” by the hospital.

Another remarkable incident was experienced after Havle Women’s Association became the counter signatory of the constitutional amendment proposal. Trolls pointed out Havle Women’s Association as a target on social media. They darkened the doorstep of the address they found and hung their own banners on. Following the incident, LGBTI+ associations made a solidarity statement for Havle Women’s Association. Solidarity with Havle Women’s Association grew incrementally.

Diyarbakır Family Assembly made one of its threadbare statements in January and targeted LGBTI+s and right organizations. It was revealed that Çiğdem, who was found seriously wounded in a forestland on February 25, in 2022, was attacked by a man named Ertan Karaca. Following the incident Konak District Governorship made a decision to seal Çiğdem’s house for three months. Their justification was the reports of the police. The perpetrator was sentenced fifteen years in prison and Att. Mahmut Şeren filed a lawsuit with the administrative court for the annulment of the sealing decision.

Another attention grabbing incident in January was Selin Ciğerci’s announcement regarding becoming a mother. Ministry of Family took action as fast as a greased lighting and turned to prosecution in order to investigate the allegations of adoption. The other incident would be the subject of a joke. The constitutional amendment proposal was discussed at Constitution Commission and an urologist was invited as an expert in order to express opinion on discriminatory proposal. Snowballing reactions were given against the proposal. İzmir Bar Association, Diyarbakır Bar Association, Turkish Medical Association and Psychiatric Association of Turkey reacted against the proposal. Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways published an open letter addressing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Meral Akşener. And thirteen LGBTI+ associations issued a statement and said: “You cannot make decisions on our behalf without listening to us!”

The course of cases and hate speech in January

While the struggle for freedom and equality grow against violation of rights targeting LGBTI+s on one hand, cases brought against LGBTI+s and hate speeches against them went on in January. Minister of Family Derya Yanık’s expressions were on the agenda beside the President Erdoğan, who stated that the constitutional amendment proposal would protect family institution from pervert movements. 115 right organizations reacted against Derya Yanık’s discriminatory speech and underlined that “the minister should make a fuss over hatred targeting LGBTI+s”. The course of the cases in January were as follows:

  • The case brought against the ban on Eskişehir Pride March was rejected.
  • Termination decision of the İstanbul Convention is at the Constitutional Court.
  • The case brought against the İzmir Bar Association on the grounds of reacting against the hateful khutbah of the Turkish Religious Affairs in 2020, will be heard on April 24, on the anniversary of the khutbah.
  • Esenler Municipality Assembly Member from Justice and Development Party (AKP) is on trial on the grounds of insulting LGBTI+ activist Cem Öztürk. The case was postponed to March 28.
  • The perpetrator of Nefes Balkan’s murder appeared before judge. While the case was postponed to a later date, continued detention of the perpetrator was decided.
  • Serdar Gülsoy, who killed Mira Güneş, hid her in a sofa, extorted her and went to a wedding ceremony stealing her car, was profited from unjust provocation! His penalty of imprisonment was reduced to fifteen years. 
  • Journalist Semra Çelebi’s case which was brought due to sharing rainbow flag was postponed to a later date.
  • On the other side acquittal decisions are going on for the cases brought against Pride March. Seven LGBTI+ activists were acquitted within the context of the 2021 Pride March 1. Cihangir case. Another acquittal was given for Mis Street case. All detainees were acquitted who were taken into custody in Mis Street. And the case brought against people, who stood in solidarity with those, who were detained at the İstanbul Convention protest, will be heard on April 12. .

Violation of rights in February

In February, there was an earthquake disaster, in which people are left helpless, multiple violation of rights experienced and people tried to heal their wound with solidarity. Unjust treatment against LGBTI+s increased by leaps and bounds due to the earthquake and multiple violation of rights from housing to accessing aid, were experienced. Solidarity was achieved thanks to the organization of LGBTI+ people in various cities.

Although violation of rights against LGBTI+s in February, were barely reflected in the press, the following incidents were paid attention:

  • The allegation of rape of a trans woman in Antalya L-type Prison was brought to agenda.
  • Journalist Sibel Yükler revealed the harassment of the police force at the 2022 METU Pride March.
  • The book entitled Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson was announced as an obscene publication.
  • Trans woman Deniz was left to die because she was exposed to ill-treatment and she was not allowed to women’s shelters due to the incoordination between her gender identity and the gender written on her ID.
  • In February, Eryaman-Esat case was postponed to May 25, Tarlabaşı Community Center (TTM) case was deferred to May 22, Hande Şeker case was adjourned until May 8, and Ahmet Yıldız case was postponed to July 4. On the other side a lawsuit was filed against LGBTI+ activists who participated in the Ankara Pride March. And the last case regarding the 2021 İstanbul Pride March also resulted in acquittal. And in late February, the Ankara 8th Administrative Court ruled a verdict that the ban on Pride March, which was given by the METU Rectorate, was unlawful.

While the expression told by the president at the beginning of February as “What does LGBT have to do with us, we have neither interest nor relevance to LGBT” left its mark in our minds, we learned that Turkey ranked the second last regarding LGBTI+ rights according to the report of ILGA Europe, in a way that confirms the President’s statements. LGBTI+s, who were left in a manner of speaking all alone in the earthquake disaster, organized the solidarity themselves.

  • Solidarity organizations created in various cities stood in solidarity with earthquake survivor LGBTI+s, who moved to their cities or who stayed in the earthquake region.
  • Accessible support mechanisms were listed for earthquake survivor LGBTI+s, who came to Ankara. 
  • Amnesty International urged the state to call speeches and attacks targeting LGBTI+s to account.
  • Actions to be taken against violence and discrimination after an earthquake was compiled.

Translation: Selma Koçak

Tags: human rights