Queerwaves helps queer night workers in Turkey dealing with economic difficulties due to the pandemic

Sep 13, 2021 | Better Stories, Human and fundamental rights, Turkey, Work and labour market

To alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 policies, many initiatives have been developed by civil society organisations – NGOs, local governments, or citizens. A team of national researchers from the RESISTIRÉ project has collected and highlighted a set of particularly relevant initiatives in 27 European countries and in Iceland, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The initiatives currently cover eight specific domains: gender-based violence, the labour market, the economy, gender-pay and pension gaps, gender care gaps, decision-making and politics, environmental justice, human and fundamental rights.

The LGBTI+ movement in Turkey has a long history, gaining momentum at the beginning of the 2000s and even more visibility during the Gezi protests of 2013. Since then, tens of thousands of people have taken part in the movement before it was banned in 2015. Although the LGBTI+ community has never lived an easy life in Turkey, the most recent developments — such as the ban of pride walks and LGBTİ+ events, stigmatization, hate crimes, discrimination against LGBTİ+ people and organisations, lack of legal protections, and sharpening of anti-gay rhetoric from the presidency — have put its very survival at risk.

In 2021, Turkey has ranked second-worst country in the “Rainbow Index” of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Under the conservative, anti-gender politics affecting the everyday lives of LGBTI+s in Turkey, finding alternative ways of resistance and solidarity has become inevitable for LGBTI+ organisations, initiatives, and groups.


Targeted by the government, the LGBTI+ community had to find creative ways for mutual support

The Queerwaves initiative and its campaign of support to queer nightlife workers during the pandemic were created in this difficult context. Queerwaves was founded in 2014 by a couple of queer DJs who wanted to bring a ‘queer touch’ to Istanbul’s nightlife and electronic music scene. The initiative puts forward partying as a form of resistance for the queer community in Turkey and organizes parties and special events to provide alternative ways of entertainment and create solidarity opportunities.

Queer nightlife workers and performance communities in Istanbul are already living under extremely precarious conditions. The most vulnerable people, whose vibrancy, labor, and creativity constitute the basis of the queer nightlife of Istanbul do not have any access to social security systems or receive any kind of government aid. For members of the community, paying rent and covering their basic needs have always been challenging, and the measures imposed to combat the spread of the pandemic have severely worsened these conditions.


With the cancellation of nightlife events during the pandemic, queer nightlife workers were in danger of slipping further into severe poverty

With the “Support to Queer Nightlife Workers” campaign, Queerwaves has aimed to support Queer Nightlife Workers who need urgent support and had no access to the social security system to survive during the lockdown period, providing for their basic needs. Given the unprecedented difficulties faced by these people during the lockdown, when venues were closed and events were cancelled, Queerwaves has urgently called members of the queer community who are financially more secure to support those in need.

As of May 2021, the campaign has reached 151 donors and raised a total of 5673 euros. In April 2021, Queerwaves reported having distributed a total of 53.200 TRY (4480 euros) to 12 people including bar staff, DJs, and performers.