Friday, 3 December 2010

British gay arts projects take human rights message to Turkey

Barbers' Garden 2008: PansiesImage by bill barber via Flickr   
Source: Pink Paper

By Joanne Dunning

Homotopia, Pansy Project, Amnesty International and Lambda Istanbul will team up to plant hundreds of pansies in Istanbul to commemorate all victims of hate crime and persecution.

Merseyside's LGBT culture festival Homotopia are working with Pansy Project artist Paul Hartfleet and Amnesty International to take their human rights and social justice work to Istanbul, as part of the city's European Capital Of Culture celebrations.

Homotopia will be producing a series of interventions, organising debates and carrying out research in Istanbul, but the week will culminate with the planting of hundreds of pansies on 2 December, to symbolise the ongoing international struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Gary Everett, Artistic Director of Homotopia highlighted the importance of doing this work in Istanbul: "In a country like Turkey, where prominent politicians find it acceptable to call homosexuality an offence and immoral on the TV and radio, and where many LGBT people still don’t feel able to come out or be accepted, this project is an important and a timely reminder of why such work is vital."

Homotopia hope that their work in Turkey will act as a creative intervention against trans and homophobic violence in Turkey and around the world.

Jessica Hand HM Consul-General to Istanbul will plant the first pansy to commemorate all victims of hate crime and persecution. She said: “Protecting the rights of minority groups, wherever they may be, is a shared responsibility for all. Prejudice and discrimination are destructive to societies and individuals."

The Homotopia Festival ran in Liverpool until the end of November, Gary Everett then took the festival's social justice message to Istanbul.
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