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First Ever Openly Gay Mayoral Candidate in Turkey Launches Campaign

Can Cavusoglu is Turkey's first gay mayoral candidate, ANSA reports:

CavusogluA Turkish man who studied in the United States is aiming to become the first open member of Turkey's LGBT community to hold public office when he runs to become mayor of a small town on Turkey's Black Sea coast, as daily Hurriyet reports. Can Cavusoglu has said he will run in Giresun's district of Bulancak in the March 2014 local elections in a bid to become the first-ever openly homosexual mayor in the country, while declaring himself a "gay, activist, writer, thinker, painter, humanist and women rights activist."

The 43-year-old, who was born in Istanbul, has looked to win votes by saying only he can bring American investment to the town thanks to his connections with the U.S., according to a written campaign bid released yesterday.

Said Cavusoglu, who is running as an independent: "The international values I possess, the representation skills and governmental accounting can be found only in a few people."


LGBT Groups and the Protests in Turkey: Photos, Video, and an Interview with a Filmmaker

Istanbul
(dimiter kenarov)

The resistance against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in Istanbul's Taksim Square has inspired some of the largest and most violent demonstrations there in years. The protests, revealing a simmering discontent with growing authoritarianism and fueled by the proposed demolition of the city's Gezi Park, have brought together many of Istanbul's minority groups, including LGBTs.

Bulgarian journalist Dimiter Kenarov agreed to share some of his photos on Towleroad (you can see others here).

I'm also sharing a translation of a caption of the photo above by a Facebook user, Lachezar Georgiev:

"This is a photograph by the independent Bulgarian journalist Dimiter Kenarov, who is reporting on the events in Taksim Square in Istanbul. At the protests people are shouting "Taip (Erdogan's nickname) -- faggot," "son of a whore," "he runs like a woman."

In response... stickers and slogans like the one in the photo have appeared, on which is written "Do not insult (curse/swear at) gays, women and prostitutes, we are all here together." Because prostitutes were the first who rushed into the streets through the night to help people who had been beaten by the police. The gay community were the first at the protests. Women are on the front lines against the police."

Turkey2I also spoke last week with Mehmet Binay, a filmmaker who is currently in Istanbul working on a feature film, and did this brief interview with him.

Binay co-directed the 2012 film Zenne Dancer, about Ahmet Yildiz, a 26-year-old gay Turkish man who lived proudly and openly in Istanbul and was shot to death leaving a cafe near the Bosphorus Strait, the victim of an 'honor killing' by his own family. I wrote more about Zenne here.

What is the extent of the participation of the Turkish LGBT community in the protests?

Turkish LGBT have been taking part in the protests to a large degree as this is a protest against an ever growing authoritarian government.

How large, how many people from the LGBT community are participating in the protests

I couldn't say that. Perhaps 5-10% of the protesters.

What does the LGBT community believe it will gain from the protests?

The LGBT community has been suffering socially, legally and politically in Turkey. A more democratic government could help the LGBT's to get their rights, recognition and legal protection against hate speech and acts.

What is the reaction from other groups involved in the protests to the inclusion of LGBT groups?

Very welcome. Gezi movement has united people regardless of their sexual identity, political affiliation or religious practices.

What is the situation in general for gay people in Turkey and Istanbul?

Istanbul has been attracting a large LGBT community for the last 10 years. It has become easier to live out and proud in Istanbul and other cities like Ankara and Izmir recently. However, life is still very difficult for transgender and transsexuals even in cities like Istanbul where they are being mobbed (bashed) in neighbourhoods.

How has Erdogan's government behaved toward LGBT people? What policies has he put in place or taken away?

Erdogan said in 2000's that LGBT's should get their rights as well. He hasn't behaved supportively after he came to power. A recent AKParti minister for family affairs called gays "sick." There are dozens of gays and transgender people that were murdered by their families or others. No serious legal action has been noticed in terms of justice. AKParti also rejected calls from the opposition to recognise LGBT's in the new constitution which could give them legal protection from hate speech.

How long do you expect the protests to last and what is the goal?

The goal has become to criticise the government's authoritarian stance and PM Erdogan's mentality of not listening to his own people.

***

I'm also posting a video (about the whole movement, not just LGBTs) AFTER THE JUMP which is the best primer on what is happening in Istanbul that I have seen to date. It was produced by VICE.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

2_istanbul
(dimiter kenarov)

Continue reading "LGBT Groups and the Protests in Turkey: Photos, Video, and an Interview with a Filmmaker" »


Catch Up on the Demonstrations in Turkey in 7 Minutes: VIDEO

Turkey

IF you haven't been following the demonstrations in Turkey, or are aware of the uprising against the government underway at the moment but not in on some of the details, here's a great video that will get you caught up.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

The resistance against Erdogan's government are some of the largest demonstrations in years, and have brought together many of Istanbul's minority groups, including LGBTs.

The Guardian:

Resting in the shade of a tree next to a stand manned by the LGBT activists of Lambda Istanbul, 29-year-old consultant Onur Aygünes said that for the first time he felt as if there was real momentum behind a larger political movement: "My friends and I felt increasingly oppressed in Turkey, but this is very inspiring. Most of the people here have never been politically active."

Aygünes, who has participated in rallies such as the Istanbul Gay Pride or Mayday demonstrations, believes the excessive police violence used in the square was counter-productive, bringing more and more people onto the streets, rather than deterring them. "I  have been teargassed for the first time here, and all it did was to make me more determined."

Turkey2

Continue reading "Catch Up on the Demonstrations in Turkey in 7 Minutes: VIDEO" »


Cristiano Ronaldo Meets His Turkish Impersonator and #1 Fan: VIDEO

Ronaldo

Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo met Gokmen, Akdogan, a 23-year-old man who makes a living impersonating Ronaldo, in a strange and funny moment after a match on Tuesday in Istanbul, Yahoo reports:

Akdogan (below), who also plays semi-professionally for lower-league side Seyhanspor, makes it his business to dress like Ronaldo, have his hair cut like Ronaldo... and apparently he even takes his free-kicks like Ronaldo. And the facial similarity is there for all to see.

Both men were all smiles when they met after Tuesday's match - a meeting which appears to have been engineered by Turkish TV - with Gokmen understandably delighted at meeting his idol, having previously said it would be a "dream" to shake the big man's hand.

One place where they don't measure up is height though - the Real Deal is a good three or four inches taller than his lookalike.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Akdogan

Continue reading "Cristiano Ronaldo Meets His Turkish Impersonator and #1 Fan: VIDEO" »


Dutch Lesbian Couple Hides As Foster Son's Turkish Parents Demand Return

TCustody2There may be an international incident brewing in The Hague, Netherlands, where a lesbian couple raising a Turkish foster son have gone into hiding to avoid returning the son to the biological parents from whose care he was ordered removed (pictured).

According to NPR, the 9 year-old boy, Yunus, was a baby living in The Netherlands with his Turkey-born parents when child services removed him from their care. Two other children were also meant to be removed but the parents took them back to Turkey before child services could intervene.

Now, as Turkish politicians rally against the concept of same-sex parents raising Muslim children, Yunus' parents are calling for his return, a call that comes just as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepares for an official trip to The Netherlands.

While hardliners back home want Erdogan to fight for Yunus' return, his government doesn't really want to get involved, particularly because Yunus' placement with the couple was an official child service's decision. From NPR:

Lodewijk Asscher, the Dutch vice prime minister, told reporters Friday that the issue is an internal Dutch matter and that political interference from Turkey is "inappropriate."

Child social services in The Hague said there was no specific threat against Yunus or his foster parents, but he has been kept home from school as a precaution since the interview aired.

The Hague Youth Services Agency has decided it is better for Yunus and his foster parents "to stay at another address for a time, partly in connection with the visit of the prime minister next week," spokeswoman Tanja van Dijk said in a telephone interview with national broadcaster NOS. "For safety, and also because of the quiet that both Yunus and his foster parents of course now need."

Asscher also praised the lesbian couple for raising a child that was "in danger" in his biological parents' care. "People who are willing to take care of somebody else's child deserve our admiration," he said.


Turkish Army Won't Accept Gays, But Requires Humiliating Proof That You Are One

Openly gay men are not welcome in the Turkish army. However, a recruit must go through a humiliating process to prove he is gay, the BBC reports:

Turkisharmy"They asked me when I first had anal intercourse, oral sex, what sort of toys I played with as a child."

Ahmet, a young man in his 20s, told officials he was gay at the first opportunity after he was called up, as he and other conscripts underwent a health check.

"They asked me if I liked football, whether I wore woman's clothes or used woman's perfume," he says. ''I had a few days' beard and I am a masculine guy - they told me I didn't look like a normal gay man.''

He was then asked to provide a picture of himself dressed as a woman.

''I refused this request,'' he says. ''But I made them another offer, which they accepted.'' Instead he gave them a photograph of himself kissing another man. Ahmet hopes this will give him what he needs - a "pink certificate", which will declare him homosexual and therefore exempt from military service.

Another man, Gokhan, went prepared with explicit photographs of himself

''The face must be visible,'' says Gokhan. ''And the photos must show you as the passive partner.''

The photographs satisfied the military doctors. Gokhan was handed his pink certificate and exempted from military service. But it was a terrible experience, he says, ''And it's still terrible. Because somebody holds those photographs. They can show them at my village, to my parents, my relatives.''

Proving you're gay to the Turkish army [bbc]


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