Friday, 27 May 2011

Video: “Ahmadinejad! We’re right here!” LGBT Iranian asylum seekers march in Ankara

By Paul Canning

Turkish LGBT group Kaos GL reports that a group of Iranian LGBT asylum-seekers took part in the fourth March against Homophobia and Transphobia, held 22 May in Ankara. Amongst their slogans: "Ahmadinejad, we’re here!"; "Iranian queers will not keep silent anymore!"; and "Iranian queers, we’re altogether now!."

They are not allowed to live in Ankara so a shuttle bus was organised from the town of Kayseri to facilitate their participation in the March. It is the first time that LGBT Iranians have participated in a Turkish gay pride march.

The group also carried the old Iranian flag during the March attached to the rainbow flags.

Iranian LGBT on the Ankara march
Kaos GL organised another first 12 May, bringing together LGBT asylum seekers and relevant Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) at a Refugee Workshop jointly with Amnesty International Turkey.

The other participants of the Workshop included representatives of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, Human Rights Joint Platform, Positive Living Association, Multeci-Der (Refugees’ Association, Human Rights Association, Human Resource Development Foundation and Human Rights Agenda Association and Mazlum-Der (Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People) and Human Rights Research Association were also invited, yet did not participate in the workshop.

One asylum seeker told the workshop
"We cannot find a job and even if we do, we cannot get our fees. Access to healthcare is really difficult; we cannot get any medicine but they do give away the drugs once they’ve expired."
"Lack of a command of the language is a rather serious problem. We are alienated not only by the public, but also by other asylum-seekers. Trans-gender asylum-seekers are exposed to severe incidents of physical violence and harassment both at their workplaces and on the street."
"The conditions of the satellite towns we’ve been sent to are really poor. I cannot tell my real reason for asylum; I say it’s on political grounds. UNHCR does not accept bisexuals."
A report by Human Rights Watch published last December detailed the problems which Iranian LGBT asylum seekers face in Turkey.

Because of their resettlement in small, conservative cities like Kayseri, LGBT asylum seekers suffer discrimination and abuse at the hands of local townspeople, difficulties with Turkish government authorities including the Turkish police, and they also have problems with locally recruited and sometimes other UNHCR staff.

As a result of the workshop a report on whether Turkey's 'Draft Law on Foreigners and International Protection' provides sufficient guarantees for the rights of LGBT asylum-seekers - Turkey has removed 'sexual orientation' from the Draft Law.

As well as the workshop, Kaos GL held a pioneering conference last week, the 'Regional Network against Homophobia' initiative, with the participation of people from the Caucasus, the Middle East and the Balkans. Iranian LGBT also attended..
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