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KAOS GL promotes diversity and social inclusion for all

Updated: 14 December 2015

In 1994, KAOS GL entered the human rights stage in Turkey with the slogan: “The liberation of homosexuals will also liberate heterosexuals”. Sida has been supporting the organisation since 2008.

At the time when KAOS GL entered the Turkish human rights stage, few really understood what they meant by their slogan. Who was to benefit from the liberation of gay and lesbian people and why? When KAOS started its work, NGOs were barely aware of LGBT rights or took them any seriously. Therefore, KAOS GL could not find partners to spread its message and create a momentum.

KAOS GL did not give up and embarked on an uphill journey.  Every civil society meeting, every national and international venue with a sizeable presence of political figures and decision makers were used as occasions to speak up and spread the word of the LGBT movement in Turkey. Their activism and bravery to reach out to other civil society movements and NGOs finally paid off after two decades of uninterrupted work. Today, Kaos GL sits at the board of the Checks and Balances Network, the Strategic Litigation Network and many other platforms in Turkey. One of the major achievements has been the ability to align with other social movements, especially with the women’s movement. To cement KAOS as one of the main actors in the area, the organization together with an alliance of women’s organizations led the drafting of the shadow report to The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2016.

From its creation, KAOS gave priority and support to establishing other LGBT organizations beyond major cities. In an area full of taboos KAOS GL has managed to build the capacity of small LGBT organizations throughout the country, by relentlessly attending local meetings and providing small grants. This has resulted in a more vibrant and diverse civil society in many corners of the country.

I participated in the KAOS GL’s 2nd Symposium against Discrimination to discover what can be done collectively in terms our struggle against discrimination.”  - A member of local LGBT organization Mersin LGBT 7 Renk

Today, KAOS GL operations span from conducting research on hate crimes to creating networks with pro-LGBT parliamentarians. Together with women’s organizations, KAOS GL provides strategic litigation services to women, disabled, and LGBT people who have faced discrimination in society. As mentioned, KAOS GL is part of several networks and collaborates with universities, trade unions, lawyers and social workers among others.

“I want to thank KAOS GL for creating a common ground to strengthen the youth community at universities through the lens of civil society activism.” - Student, Ankara University Faculty of Educational Sciences

KAOS GL defines itself as a rights based organization for human rights, and its’ mission statement “diversity and social inclusion for all groups” has been selected to show authorities that LGBT rights are human rights. In November 2015, this resulted in the first ever International Conference on LGBT rights in Turkey, which included participants from the Human Rights Institution of Turkey, the Ombudsman Institution, the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights and the Parliamentary Commission on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women.

The next big task for KAOS GL is to ensure that Turkey includes “sexual orientation” in the Anti-Discrimination Bill and in the regulations on Hate Crime. It will be a challenge, but as KAOS GL has shown, nothing is impossible.

Page owner: Department for Europe and Latin America

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