A music video that raises awareness about violence against LGBTQIA+ people is attracting plenty of chatter in Turkey.
The five-minute clip stars Onur Gokhan Gercek, a prominent drag queen in Turkey, and follows him as he prepares for a night out with friends. After partying in drag and being admired by a number of men, he is attacked while walking home and left bloodied and bruised.
It’s produced by Istanbul-based band Athena, for their song "Ses Etme" – or "Don't Make A Sound" in English – and is designed to draw attention to the senseless brutality some members of the LGBT+ community face.
While not intended as a political statement, the response to the video has been overwhelming, with widespread local media coverage and close to three million people viewing it on YouTube.
Gay and transgender people are not protected from discrimination under Turkish law, and although homosexuality has been legal since 1932, Amnesty International accused “Turkish authorities” of using “homophobic and transphobic rhetoric” earlier this year.
Violent crime is also a problem, with Transgender Europe identifying 41 trans and gender diverse people who were murdered in Turkey between 2008 and 2015.
The country’s Pride marches have also attracted plenty of violence, and in June this year, Istanbul’s march was cancelled despite protests to keep it running. The previous year, the parade was shut down by riot police firing water cannons to disperse crowds.
Gercek sees LGBT+ visibility as an important step forward for the country, and tells BuzzFeed that’s why Athena’s music video struck a chord.
“Everybody was deeply moved by the story,” he says, “Homophobia and transphobia are killing people”.
“Moral beliefs are shaped by wrong influences. Society is watching or reading whatever has been given to them. That is why visibility is crucial.”