Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) 2023 Congress, Lodz, Poland, 11 - 15 July 2023, vol.35, no.1, pp.836-837
As much as integrated planning is needed to address acute problems of global turbulence, it is also a necessary means to tackle more chronic and deep-rooted issues encountered in urban areas, including those related to democracy, social justice, and inclusion. A clear depiction of such problems—both acute and chronic—is apparent in the lack of inclusion of LGBTQI+ minorities when addressing diversity and social well-being in urban spaces. This study aims to clarify LGBTQI+ individuals’ planning-related expectations and how—or whether—they are integrated in planning and to define ways to bridge the gap between the current and expected planning agendas regarding this specific group in Istanbul.
The socio-spatial exclusion of LGBTQI+ individuals manifests itself as exclusion on a cultural basis, exclusion from production and sharing processes and social institutions, and due to legal structures (Takács, 2006), mirroring the alienation these individuals also experience within their families and hometowns. In rather conservative and religion-driven cultures such as that often found in Turkey, queerness is generally viewed as a deformity, sin, or crime, which serves to legitimize violence towards LGBTQI+ individuals. Today, Turkey ranks first in Europe and 12th in the world in transgender homicides (Transgender Europe, 2023). In major cities such as Istanbul, chronic social exclusion translates into excessively expensive housing, loss of jobs and job opportunities, discrimination in education and health services, and harassment on public transportation (Özer and Erciyes, 2021). This atmosphere has led to the fear of outing, constraining LGBTQI+ individuals from seeking help when they encounter social or psychological harassment in daily urban life. While civic mobilization efforts, solidarity networks, and NGOs are emerging to champion queer rights-based claims and demands, such endeavors have thus far been very limited.
This study examines the applicability of LGBTQI+ groups’ rights-based spatial appeals to tackle the socio-spatial exclusion they face in Istanbul, the most preferred city in Turkey for LGBTQI+ individuals to seek to exist and actualize their identity. It thus aims to reveal the extent of the inclusivity of planning at both the policy and implementation levels. The empirical research has been designed in three stages. The first stage comprises four in-depth interviews with informed activists and a representative of SPoD, the leading LGBTQI+ association in Istanbul, in order to uncover the planning-related expectations of the city’s LGBTQI+ community. In addition to the main demand of gender-inclusive urban policy-making, the interviews reveal nine specific space-based demands in two categories: LGBTQI+-specific urban uses and the restructuring of existing spaces as non-binary and/or genderless. The second stage consists of interviews with informed planning, participation, and equality department officials of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the city’s chief governing body, in order to evaluate current LGBTQI+-related planning policies and the practicality of the demands in terms of current planning techniques. The third stage consists of a critical discussion of primary research findings in the context of inclusive planning and gender literature.
The study thus uncovers both consistencies and disparities between the inclusive planning expectations of the LGBTQI+ community and existing and potential planning policies/applications in Istanbul. At the same time, it suggests ways to encourage more inclusive and just planning practices that would eliminate the socio-spatial exclusion and relevant externalities LGBTQI+ individuals face in their everyday lives.
Özer, B. G. and Erciyes, C. (2021) ‘Toplumsal cinsiyet algısı ve ön yargı: LGBTİ+lara yönelik tutum üzerine bir çalışma [Gender perception and prejudice: A study on attitudes towards LGBTI+]’, Aydın Sağlık Dergisi, 7(3), pp. 255-275.
Takács, J. (2006) Social exclusion of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Europe. Brussels: ILGA Europe.
(2023) Trans murder monitoring absolute numbers
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