Koçak, ‘Legally Unrecognized but Bureaucratically Tolerated’, 2020
Mert Koçak, ‘Legally Unrecognized but Bureaucratically Tolerated: Queer Iranian Refugees Living in Turkey’, Network for Migration Matters, 5 November 2020
Shouleh[i], a lesbian refugee from Iran, told me, “We (Iranian queer refugees living in Turkey) want only three things: resettlement, financial help, and parties!”. She started the sentence with a serious face and ended it with warm laughter. With her strong but very approachable personality, Shouleh has been a well-known person – a community leader – in the city where she has been living since 2015. She was already a fluent English speaker, and within a short time she picked up Turkish. Soon other queer refugees contacted her whenever they had a problem, especially about communicating with Turkish officials or workers of non-governmental organizations that provide vital social and economic assistance to queer refugees. She has also been a key figure in my PhD fieldwork[ii] since February 2018, when we had our first interview. Ever since, we have maintained a friendship as well as a professional relationship. She has acted as the interpreter for many interviews I conducted with Iranian queer refugees.