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The Turkish LGBTI rights organization Kaos GL turns 20 on September 20. At the Internet Governance Forum just held in Istanbul, Bishakha Datta interviewed Kaos activist Hayriye Avatar on their pathbreaking LGBTI activism, both online and offline.
Bishakha Datta: How did you get involved with Kaos?
Hayriye Avatar: I started to work with Kaos GL at the end of 2010 and have been working here professionally for four years. Before, I was a volunteer with Kaos for one year. Kaos has many different parts: academics, education, legal system, media. I’ve worked on most of these. I’m a lawyer, and Kaos GL gives legal assistance to LGBTI, also LGBTI refugees, in person, via phone and email. This is what I work on now.
BD: LGBTI refugees? How do you work with them?
HA: We work with LGBTI refugees entering Turkey. Many of them come from Iran, some from Morocco, Iraq and Afghanistan etc. Right now, there are Syrian LGBTI refugees. We have a good faith agreement with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Turkey that we can represent LGBTI refugees – those identify themselves as bisexual, lesbian, gay or transy. But they cannot always openly claim their sexual or gender identity.
Read the full interview in GenderIT.org.