New Report: "From Discrimination to Poverty: LGBTI+'s in Turkey"

New Report: "From Discrimination to Poverty: LGBTI+'s in Turkey"

27/09/2022 | 17 Mayıs

May 17 Association has published a new report titled "From Discrimination to Poverty: LGBTI+'s in Turkey" with the support of Etkiniz EU Program

New Report: "From Discrimination to Poverty: LGBTI+'s in Turkey" - May 17 Association

May 17 Association has published a new report titled "From Discrimination to Poverty: LGBTI+'s in Turkey" with the support of the Etkiniz EU Program within the scope of Poverty Studies.

Click to access the full report.

This report, which focuses on the issue of poverty that impacts everyone in the LGBTI+ community with a holistic perspective and looks at poverty from the aspect of access to basic human rights as well as its economic dimension, serves as a starting point for revealing the current situation and conducting more detailed studies in the future.

The introductory part of the report is as follows:

For many years, poverty has been tried to be explained by conditions such as being below a certain level of income, not being able to reach minimum living standards or not being able to meet basic needs. However, this traditional definition was found to be insufficient to explain poverty, especially in the last thirty years, and it was acknowledged that poverty was not only a matter of lack of income. Poverty is considered a multidimensional phenomenon that includes various different factors such as access to education, healthcare services, social assistance and housing facilities as well as lack of income. This multidimensional perception of poverty implies that poverty is also directly related to conditions in which people cannot access the power and opportunities to shape their own lives, cannot make their voices heard, and have no respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. From this perspective it is possible to say that there is a cause-effect relationship between poverty and concepts such as human rights, discrimination and social exclusion. For example, the fact that poor people are forced to work in uninsured and unhealthy jobs or cannot benefit from healthcare services makes poverty a cause of rights violation while the fact that all children cannot access qualified education equally and free of charge may be considered a result. In addition, ongoing discrimination and human rights violations can make it impossible for people to escape from poverty.

Approaching poverty from a human rights perspective makes it necessary to investigate the living conditions of LGBTI+ people who are systematically discriminated against in the world and Turkey. Data obtained from research on the poverty of LGBTI+ people in the world in recent years - albeit limited - indicate that LGBTI+ people have lower access to education, health, employment, housing and financial services. This means that the discrimination and social exclusion to which they are exposed in social life makes them vulnerable to the risk of

poverty. Although studies on how LGBTI+ people are affected by social policies are carried out from time to time in Turkey, unfortunately, LGBTI+ poverty has not been adequately included in our agenda so far. However, the lack of sufficient information on a particular group or field of rights does not mean that there is no problem or violation of rights in that regard; it rather indicates insufficient data. Therefore, poverty should be considered as one of the main agendas of LGBTI+ rights struggle and the cause-effect relationship between systematic human rights violations and discrimination against LGBTI+ people and poverty should be revealed with data. 

As May 17 Association, we carried out this study, which aims to analyze the current and potential LGBTI+ poverty in Turkey, in three basic stages:

1- Literature review: In the first step of the study, we examined the publications of local and international organizations that consider poverty as a human rights violation. In addition, we examined the reports revealing the discrimination and violations of rights suffered by LGBTI+ people in Turkey and interpreted the information here within the scope of poverty. Current reports constitute the main source of information for poverty analysis. In other words, when evaluating poverty together with different fields of rights, we first benefited from the data contained in these reports.

2- Meetings with organizations working in the field of LGBTI+ rights and poverty : We held two meetings with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir, Bursa and Mersin. During our online meeting on February 21, 2022, we met with NGOs working on poverty and issues that may be directly related to poverty. In these meetings, we had the chance to listen to the studies on poverty, which is a new field for us, from those who personally carried out it. In the second meeting on February 25, 2022, we met with LGBTI+ organizations online and talked about the increasing needs of LGBTI+ organizations and the problems faced by organizations while addressing poverty. In addition to the literature review, these meetings helped us to draw a framework for poverty and human rights and to think about what steps we could take to combat poverty together.

3- Focus group meetings: Since the experiences of each group within the LGBTI+ community can be unique, we carried out focus group interviews with activists from the three groups which have the least connection with poverty in current reports: intersex people, LGBTI+ people living with HIV and trans people. At these meetings held on May 11, 2022 and May 18, 2022, the participants explained the violations and discrimination experienced by intersex people, LGBTI+ people living with HIV and trans people, especially when accessing education, health and employment rights, based on their own personal experiences as well as their experiences and observations in the field, taking into account the risk of poverty. Activists’ own personal experiences as well as their observations on the field helped us to seek the answer to the question: “Do rights violations and discrimination impoverish LGBTI+ people?” Participated by 4 to 6 activists from Ankara, Istanbul, Mersin, İzmit, Balıkesir and Bursa, the meetings lasted about 1.5 hours. 

At this point, it is necessary to mention the limitations of the study. It is not easy to conduct research on LGBTI+ people due to the diversity of LGBTI+ people within themselves (the characteristics of the total population are unknown) and the priority effort made to maintain confidentiality. In addition, as intersex people and LGBTI+ people living with HIV have just started to be organized, there are few of them and it is very difficult to find people who are open for interviews. Therefore, we cannot say that a limited number of people participating in focus group meetings represent the entire LGBTI+ community. Nevertheless, in order to overcome this problem, we selected the participants from the activists working in the field and thanks to what they told at the meeting, we were able to go beyond the individual examples and obtain detailed information about what LGBTI+ people experience. There is no doubt that more detailed studies are needed to evaluate the poverty risk of each group within the LGBTI+ community separately.

This publication consists of five parts. In the first chapter, we will briefly describe poverty and talk about what it means in terms of human rights. The second chapter examines the increasing poverty in Turkey in recent years in the light of basic economic indicators. In the third chapter, we will talk about the risk of poverty faced by LGBTI+ people based on what they experience while exercising certain rights. In the fourth chapter, we will summarize the works of non-governmental organizations in the face of increasing poverty. The last chapter consists of a brief evaluation based on what we have learned from this whole process.

We hope that this publication, which we have prepared with limited opportunities in a short time, will create an infrastructure for the LGBTI+ movement’s work on poverty and will lead to new research and advocacy activities. 

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