21 Nov Being LGBTI in Turkey -Emirhan Deniz Çelebi
*Content Warning: This post discusses violence and suicide*
‘What is it like to be an LGBTI person in your country?’
I believe that we should consider our losses, the ones that are visible in the media and known by us, and the ones that we do not know that occur in the suburbs of my country. Those being raped, or are targeted by transphobia and hate crimes in the backstreets of Tarlabasi or other cities in this country.
I really do not know where to start or which part of the LGBTIQ acronym to discuss first.
There is X’s story, which ends in a forced marriage to ‘correct’ her lesbianism or his gender identity. Imagine a father saying “You’ll remember being a woman after having a penis inside of you!”
The story of Ahmet, who was stabbed many times by his own father because of his sexual orientation. Who is the perpetrator?
Let’s go on to Okyanus Efe, who hanged himself out of balcony bars. The only sentence left after him was this question: ‘What’s the fucking use of being normal’. I do not have an answer for this question. Do you?
Hande Kader, the Turkish sex worker trans woman murdered in August, which you may have heard of it. Her the last recorded remarks: ‘You are recording, but not publishing it on anywhere! You are not! Nobody hears our voice!’
The government ignores the LGBTI community in Turkey, despite constant threats of violence and hatred. They have not tried to add a single clause to new hate crimes laws to include LGBTI persons, which clearly means that our right to life is not guaranteed under legislation. At state of emergency times, it has also brought arbitrary detentions along with it. For instance, dear Levent Puskin, LGBTI rights defender and lawyer, is under custody as I am writing this!
To live in Turkey as an LGBTI person means that you walk the streets with fear of being killed or targeted by homophobia or transphobia. You must stand strong against potential hate crime or speech. Imagine that the first thing on your to-do-list is to survive because of security problems. Can you imagine being an activist screaming against transphobia in this insecure environment? There is a lot to say. I would like to tell the personal stories of all my LGBTI friends, but it would be much too long.
I would like to remind you of our motto in Turkey: Get used to it, we are here and not going anywhere. We may disperse in our march or stand strong in Istiklal Street proudly. We may fall seven times, but should stand up eight!
We are proudly trans, gay, lesbian, bisexual or neither fish nor fowl. We are proudly ourselves! This inspires us and keeps us strong despite all obstacles.
We keep this hope alive in our hearts for the sake of defending our rights, now and then!