Turkish LGBT+ student groups condemn discrimination, unlawful steps

Turkish LGBT+ students slammed discriminatory remarks against their sexuality by top government officials in a joint statement published on Monday.

The students also censured a decision by the new rector of Boğazıcı University in Istanbul to shut down a study group established by LGBT+ students.

"The decision which the Boğazıcı trustee rector unlawfully took to close the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club, clearly revealed the attitude of the government and the so-called rector towards LGBT+s."

Turkish officials including Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu have targeted LGBT+ activists involved in nationwide student protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment in January of party loyalist Melih Bulu to head Boğazıcı University. The university is one of Turkey’s top academic institutions and a stronghold of secular, liberal values.

Last week, Soylu labelled LGBT+ people as “deviants” in comments on Twitter, prompting the company to label his tweet with a health warning.

Hundreds of students have been detained in the demonstrations, with many claiming torture, humiliation and other ill treatment by police officers. Erdoğan’s government has blamed the protests on LGBT+ activists and terrorist groups.

The statement was published in Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and English and reads as follows:

'We object to this unlawfulness'

"As university LGBTI+ communities, we are in solidarity with all our friends who are targeted, marginalised, and subjected to torture in detention.

"We do not accept the hate policy that tries to demonize Boğaziçi University students and the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club who resist the usurpation of university autonomy, which is the basis of academic freedom.

"The right to meet and demonstrate is a constitutional right of all citizens. Unlawful measures taken to prevent the exercise of this right require the government and the police forces to answer to the law.

"The decision which the Boğazıcı trustee rector unlawfully took to close the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club clearly revealed the attitude of the government and the so-called rector towards LGBT+s. We object to this unlawfulness that fundamentally violates the freedom of association!

"We remind the government that utters hate speech from the highest ranks at the top of their voice, cannot tolerate the rainbow flag neither on the streets nor in the parliament, intervene in our friends' rights and respond with torture: your responsibilities arising from the Constitution and the international conventions to which we are a party require that you do not discriminate between your citizens and combat torture effectively.

"LGBTI+ individuals will not bow to this reactionary blockade! We existed yesterday, we exist today, and we will exist tomorrow. We call on everyone who believes in human rights, democracy and equality to solidarity."

The undersigned

Bilgi Gökkuşağı (Bilgi Rainbow); Hacettepe Kuir Araştırmaları (Hacettepe Queer Studies); Lavender LGBTİQ+; ODTÜ LGBTİ+ Dayanışması (METU LGBTI+ Solidarity); İstanbul Technical University (İTÜ) Cins Arı; ÖzÜ LGBTİQ+; İstanbul Üniversitesi Eşitlik Topluluğu (İstanbul University Equality Community); Koç Üniversitesi Kuir (Koç University Queer); BAU Renkli Çatı (BAU Colorful Roof); 7Tepe7Renk (7 Hills 7 Colors); İKUİR; SU Cins+ Kulüp; GSÜ Lion Queer; Bilkent Renkli Düşün (Bilkent Think Colorful)