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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Turkey: Struggle against Homo/transphobic Discrimination in Professional Life

Source: bianet

LGTB organization Kaos GL held a "LGB Employees Meeting" in Ankara to draw attention to the discrimination of homosexual and bisexual people in professional life. One of the most urgent problems is the rejection of applications because of a person's sexual identity.

What do lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees experience in job interviews? What kind of treatment are they exposed to? Which problems do they have to expect when they start working? What are the similarities and differences for LGB workers who had and did not have their coming out yet? What kind of problems arise in military and civil surroundings?

The Turkish LGTB organization Kaos GL called for a "LGB Employees Meeting" with employed and unemployed participants in Ankara to highlight the answers to the above questions.

Education: LGB workers experience the most difficult period after high school graduation when they enter university and after university graduation when choosing a profession. A large number of homosexual and bisexual graduates heads for professional fields perceived as "homosexual professions" even if they lack expertise and desire for these professions. On top of the list are professions such as interior architecture, advertising, film industry and fashion.

Job application: Some problems are widely spread in the private and public sector for LGB job applicants. The most urgent ones are listed as follows:

* It can be a reason not to be hired if a person "appears to be homosexual" or without declaring it is "supposed to be homosexual" in the job interview. Therefore, many LGB applicants are forced to give a heterosexual impression by matching their appearance according to the general picture regarding clothes or body language.

* It is problematic for all males not to join the military service. However, homosexuals who obtain a report of psychological disorder are directly disqualified from military service

* Checks on the private life on an applicant are done for some public sectors in particular. They enter the private environment and asked the people around for infromation about the applicant. If the people asked give information about any problems regarding the sexual identity of the person, he can be prevented from working in these public sectors.

* Additionally there is a 2-year period for civil service posts to decide whether the candidate "is suitable for the civil service or not". During this period of time the applicant has to live in accordance with social norms and public morality.

* When applying to a magazine, publishing house or newspaper for example, the applicant cannot mention in his CV that he contributed to a magazine such as Kaos GL out of concern to reveal his homosexuality.

* For applications in the academic sector previous work experience in the LGBT field can be a reason for not being hired.

* Furthermore, it can create problems in the job application to come out openly as homosexual.

According to the experiences of the participants in Ankara, "Even if an LGB person has the suitable features and physical or academic qualifications, the applicant might not get the job because of the employer's or human recourses department's homophobic attitude, their political ideas and/or moral perceptions".

LGB people who jumped the hurdle of application and became employed experience further problems regarding their sexual orientation.

Participants of the LGB Workers Meeting explained that they cannot live their sexual identity openly in the public sector at all and seldomly in the private sector. They are experiencing the following problems:

* Problems in social life and isolation is created by heterosexually dominated social structures and the per se perception of everybody being heterosexual.

* The "doubt of homosexuality" can be an obstacle to promotion. This can also be in the way of being exiled to another position or city.

* When the spouse, child of fiancée of a heterosexual person gets sick, the person can take a day off whereas a homosexual or bisexual person's partner gets sick, he or she cannot take a day off.

* Mobbing politics are applied in public to people whose sexual orientation comes out. The purpose is to make the person resign due to this attitude so the company does not have to pay compensation.

* The martial status has influence on the distribution of work fields in the company. Work related to late working hours or travelling is generally allocated to single persons. Whereas heterosexual single people get away from this situation by marriage, LGB employees in Turkey are experiencing this problem permanently since they have no legal basis to marry their partner.

The situation for transvestites and transsexuals is even more difficult because they are not being invited to job interviews in the first place.

Transsexuals Complain at Prime Ministry about Police Violence

By Bawer Çakir

About 80 people gathered in Ankara upon the call of the Pink Life Transgender Association. Despite police resistance they managed to hand their petition for redress to the Human Rights Presidency of the Prime Ministry. The petition is concerned with police violence against transvestites and transsexuals and rights violations occurring in the Act on Misdemeanour.

Members of the Pink Life LGBTT Association handed a petition to the Human Rights Presidency of the Prime Ministry considering grievances in the "Act on Misdemeanour". According to this law arbitrary police fines for transvestites and transsexuals have been abolished. The petition draws attention to the fact that nevertheless, the police goes to their houses with orders of confiscation and fines, arbitrarily arrests and detains transvestites and transsexuals and closes down their homes.

Supporters of the Pink Life LGBTT Association gathered on Ankara's popular Yüksel Avenue before they submitted their petition on 23 October. In the petition they asked, "How much longer will the injustice against us continue, which is acted out by the police force of the Ankara Public Security branch staff, the Esat Police Station, the Kavaklıdere Police Station, the Anafartalar Police Station and the Karşıyaka Police Station? How many more of our homes will be closed by the Ankara Governorship?"

Demands: stop violence and arbitrary applications

The transvestites and transsexuals participating in the protest had printed their demands on the t-shirts they were wearing, including slogans such as "Get your hands off my body, police", "'transphobia' kills", "We want work" and "Stop Misdemeanour Law".

Participant Buse Kılıçkaya read from the petition, "As citizens we cannot benefit from any civil rights because of the pressure applied by the state politics. Every day we are being exposed to more violation of rights".

Furthermore, the petition mentions violations like police raids at houses of transvestites and transsexuals, arbitrary police applications, fines under the pretence of the Misdemeanour Law, arbitrary arrests and violence.

Police tried to prevent submission of the petition

After the group had read out their demands, they wanted to walk to the Prime Ministry to submit their petition. As reported to bianet by Kaos GL spokesman Barış Sulu, the police tried to prevent the group from entering the Prime Ministry by setting up barricades.

Later on Pink Life members Kılıçkaya, Fulden Aras and Sevgi Yıldırım entered the Prime Ministry as representatives of the association and went to Human Rights Chairman Mehmet Yılmaz Küçük's office. In the meantime Küçük had agreed that the group could come one by one to hand in their demands. However, the police did not allow this for some more time.

Finally, the participants of the protest were allowed to go to Küçük's office in groups of five to hand in their requests.

"Public Morality" Disturbed by LTGB organization

By Bawer Çakir

The governorship filed a closure case against the Black Pink Triangle association in Izmir under charges of "opposing the public morality and the Turkish family structure". The first hearing is scheduled for February next year.

The Siyah Pembe Üçgen ('Black Pink Triangle') LTGB association is facing a closure trial on the grounds of "running contrary to the public morality and the Turkish family structure". The first hearing will take place on 19 February 2010. The association is the 5th LTGB organization established in Turkey after Kaos GL, Bursa Gökkuşağı ('Bursa Rainbow'), Pembe Hayat ('Pink Life') and Lambdaistanbul.

Siyah Pembe Üçgen member Hülya Sur argued, "The prosecutor's request to close down our association is a violation of the civic rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals (LGBTT). If the establishment of an association is a constitutional right and if the prosecutor wants to deprive a part of this right from the citizens, then we can speak of constitutional inequality".

Once more the reason is "public morality"

Association member and joint attorney Elif Ceylan Özsoy talked to bianet about the establishment of the association and the launched court case.

"As the Siyah Pembe Üçgen LGBTT Association we presented our regulatory statute and the necessary documents to the Izmir Provincial Association Directorate on 20 February. The directorate was supposed to examine our regulatory statute and to inform us in written form about the approval or the provision of lacking documents within 60 days. We did not receive any information within this period of time".

Özsoy continues, "I called the Directorate and they said 'It was sent to the Ankara Association Office Presidency for examination and we still did not receive an answer from them'. So I called Ankara. They informed me that the request had not reached them yet. We faxed an application to the directorate in Izmir to speed up the process. Another 60 days had passed but there was still no written response".

An answer was received on 26 May. The directorate requested to amend article 2 from the regulatory statute because it allegedly opposed article 43 on public morality and protection of the family; furthermore, a couple of lacking signatures had to be provided.

Özsoy indicated that their regulatory statute was not any different form the other LGBTT organizations in Turkey. They completed the missing signatures and sent it back without further amendments of the relevant article.

"This article is included in the regulatory statute of the 4 other LGBTT organizations as well and it is entered in their registries accordingly. We stated that this request was opposing the state's principle of equality. Additionally, we reminded the fact that the Court of Appeals had rejected a closure request in the case of Lambdaistanbul, which had been filed on the grounds of opposing the article on public morality and protection of the family. We declared that we were not going to make the referring modifications".

According to information from Özsoy, upon this response the governor applied to the Izmir Public Prosecutor's Office on account of the Izmir Provincial Association Directorate for closing down the Siyah Pembe Üçgen Association. Prosecutor on duty Sami Dündar opened a court case on 16 October on the grounds of completing the deficiencies as notified within 30 days according to article 60/2 of the Anti-Terror Law.

"This case is the result of communication problems of the judiciary"

Hülya Sur claims, "Has somebody got a scale for evaluating citizenship? So let them feel comfortable and exclude LGBTT people from citizenship".

The association member sees a communication problem within the judiciary since another closure case has been opened against an LGBTT organization despite the fact that the court of appeals decreed against the closure of Lambdaistanbul.

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