Human Rights / Labour

KESK Co-president: All norms should be radically shaken!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The 3rd Symposium against Discrimination brought the Confederation of Public Workers’ Union (KESK), Education and Science Workers’ Union (Egitim-Sen) and Cyprus Turkish Teachers’ Union (KTOS) together.
Kaos GL Association’s Symposium against Discrimination took place last weekend in Ankara. Held at Tum Bel-Sen (Trade Union for All Workers of Municipality and Local Administration Services) Conference Hall, the symposium spread the message “LGBTI rights are trade union rights”.
The session on union experiences in Turkey and Northern Cyprus was moderated by Turkan Karagoz from Izmir Egitim-Sen Branch No. 2 LGBTI Commission.
Here are the highlights of the session’ speakers:
Saziye Kose, Confederation of Public Workers’ Union (KESK) Co-president:
The conflict between labor and capital always consists of exclusion, discrimination, homophobia and marginalization. If we are ever going to win, we need the struggle of labor against capital.
We all know that capitalism depends on a regime of body-gender and is heterosexist. It fights women.  
Existing labor and union movements are based on the binaries of capitalism. Therefore, they face big challenges. As women and LGBTS, we should open a channel to meet them.
“We are open to any collective work with LGBTs”  
We need to get rid of patriarchal functioning. KESK has started the process but these are partial moves. In the context of human rights, the struggle against discrimination should be raised.   
All norms should be radically shaken. Unless they are shaken, neither union movement nor labor movement would be free from patriarchy. We are open to any collective work with LGBTs. We are open to overcome the obstacles in front of us.  
Sakine Esen Yilmaz, General Secretary of Egitim-Sen:
Both KESK and Egitim-Sen includes sexual orientation and gender identity in their legislation. But it is not really possible to say that there has been a big advancement for our LGBTI members.
We have LGBTI commissions that collaborate with Kaos GL. Media targets our commissions’ works. Besides the external resistance, there is also an internal resistance from the union.
There is this perception that self-organizations of women would divide the class and it creates a resistance. The education sector has a tendency of getting womanized. The union should develop policies in order to have some gains. 
Yes, unions have work on women but we face a problem of budget. Finally, we made a “gender sensitive budget”. No more “we don’t have money for that” resistance when it comes to women and LGBTI people.
“The networks of male dominance are close to women and LGBTIs” 
Women got trainings on gender. We empower ourselves but we realized that men right beside us did not go through any transformation. Therefore, our gender trainings are done in mixed groups now. We also developed our own trainer.
Male dominance is produced in every single moment and we should always be aware of it. The networks of male dominance are close to both women and LGBTI people. 
Semen Saygun, Head of Cyprus Turkish Teachers’ Union (KTOS)
The privatization in Cyprus is done through the Turkish government by ignoring the will of Northern Cyprus. As Cypriot Turks, we are totally against the fact that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government give orders to us.  
The conservative policies in Northern Cyprus started with the AKP government in Turkey. An association was founded to build mosques and now we have 202 mosques and 160 schools. The religion courses became compulsory. The number of Quran courses increased.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Northern Cyprus following a change in Chapter 154 of the criminal code. However, our LGBTI friends did not really get a visibility yet.
Translation: LGBTI News Turkey 
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