Pink Life (Pembe Hayat) LGBTT Solidarity Association (PH)
In Turkey, acts of discrimination and violence against LGBT people are common and are largely ignored by the authorities. The lack of laws prohibiting discrimination against women has created a threatening environment for the LGBT community, and for transgender sex workers and rights activists in particular because they usually don’t have any support from police or the judiciary. In January 2011, a transgender sex worker in Eskisehir was sexually assaulted and raped in her home. In another instance in Antalya in July, a group of approximately 15 men with iron rods assaulted two transgender sex workers. In response, human rights organization Pink Life (Pembe Hayat) LGBTT Solidarity Association (PH) requested funds for an awareness raising campaign on the hate crimes committed and increasing visibility of the issue. PH plans to hold one panel and round-table with survivors of hate crimes and human rights circles to coincide with the upcoming Trans Remembrance Conference in November 2011. They will also mobilize 10 transgender rights defenders to attend the first hearing of the three cases (the third case is of the woman who was assaulted this January), in November and December. They plan to use the funds for the campaign costs, including transportation and accommodation for participants and hall rental.
PH’s mission is to improve the lives of transgender individuals in Turkey by advocating for their human rights; providing legal and psychological assistance in response to hate crimes and discrimination; and raising awareness of hate and societal prejudices.
Funds were used to organize a campaign to raise awareness about two recent violent attacks on transgender sex workers in Turkey. First, PH organized a panel on November 18, 2011 in Ankara, which included legal experts, human rights NGOs, women's groups, and local and national press, and was part of a larger event, the Conference on Combating Transphobic Hatred. The panel not only succeeded in achieving media coverage, but also helped PH mobilize activists for the next step in the campaign: traveling to attend the first two hearings against the perpetrators of the violent attacks. A large group of activists from universities and women's groups joined trans activists at the courthouse in Eskisehir in November, and diverse human rights organizations sent representatives to attend the hearing in Antalya in December. Both hearings resulted in further hearings being scheduled, and at one, the judge ordered the perpetrators to be arrested. Because of PH’s movement-building efforts and the increased visibility of the attacks, many organizations are showing an interest in following the hearings and demanding accountability.
Another positive outcome of PH’s campaign has been that it helped to integrate the issue of violence against transwomen into the general women’s rights agenda. For example influential women’s organizations have now included the phrase “gender identity” as a protected category in their recommendations for the current draft law on violence against women at the Ministry of Family and Social Policies.