Turkish activist recipient of 2013 David Kato Vision & Voice Award

Published: November 29, 2012

Johannesburg, 29 November 2012 – The 2013 David Kato Vision & Voice Award has been awarded to Ali Erol:  a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) activist in Turkey. The award will be announced at the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s 60th anniversary celebrations in South Africa.

The award recognizes those who strive to uphold sexual rights for LGBTI people. It is named after human rights activist David Kato, who was murdered in his home in Kampala, Uganda on 26 January 2011.

Ali Erol founded Kaos GL organization in 1994, the first of its kind in Turkey, and at a time when homosexuality was taboo and ‘coming out’ could lead to death threats. Ali Erol and Kaos GL are now at the forefront of the campaign for the reform of the Turkish constitution, pushing for a clause on non-discrimination of LGBTI people.

He said: "I made the choice to commit my life to this struggle, and since then I’ve remained committed to this choice despite all the threats and difficulties.

“Homophobic hate chokes our voices and blockades our lives on a global scale by imprisoning us in invisibility. Against the policies of denial, which can turn homophobia into violence, we must establish local, regional and global networks and empower each other in the fight against stigma and hatred.

“I am proud to receive the David Kato Vision and Voice Award. It will make me stronger and give me more courage to continue to fight for liberation.”

Since he began his work in LGBTI rights, Ali has had to fight against many forms of police and state pressure, including detentions, prosecution, police harassment and numerous court cases.

LGBTI people remain largely hidden in Turkey as they continue to be subjected to humiliation, exclusion, and violence. The Trans Murder Monitoring project shows that Turkey has by far the most reported murders of trans people in Europe, with 29 reported since January 2008.

Turkey is led by the religious conservative JDP government. In 2010, Turkey’s minister for women, Selma Aliye Kavaf, triggered public debate and attracted criticism after declaring in a popular daily newspaper she believed homosexuality to be a ‘biological disorder’ that requires treatment. Kaos GL filed a criminal complaint against the minister for inciting hatred and hostility.

David’s mother, Lydia Mulumba, will present the award to Ali along with Maurice Tomlinson, the inaugural recipient of the award.

“Although I lost a son, I am grateful that David’s work carries on and that his name lives on within this award. I am also happy for the friendship I continue to receive from all those who knew David.”

Kevin Osborne, Senior HIV Adviser at IPPF, said:  “This year’s call for nominations generated interest from over 120 countries. The overwhelming number of nominations received clearly indicates that LGBTI people are standing up for their sexual rights worldwide.”

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