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SAMAR BADAWŻ
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KAOS GL
Samar Badawi was born in 1981 in Saudi Arabia. She began her struggle for human rights at a very young age when she took her father, who had abused her physically for fifteen years, to court. Opposing to the male guardianship law which dictates that women of any age must have a male guardian, she filed a lawsuit against her father, who had not allowed her to marry. At the conclusion of her father’s countersuit for disobedience, she was arrested on April 4, 2010. The Saudi Arabian NGO Human Rights First Society declared her detainment “excessive and illegal.” With the help of local and international support campaigns, she was released on October 25, 2010, and her guardianship was transferred to her uncle.

Badawi became involved in legal initiatives for women’s suffrage. When the voter registration center rejected her application prior to local elections in September 2011, she declared that there was no law whatsoever denying candidacy and voting rights to women and that this refusal was illegal. She then filed a lawsuit at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs’ Diwan al Mazalim (Grievance Board), which is not subject to Islamic law. Citing articles forbidding general discrimination in the Arab Charter on Human Rights in her lawsuit, she demanded the right to vote and run for office. On April 27, 2011, the Board agreed to hear the case at a later date, but its final decision was that there were no grounds for the lawsuit.

In 2011 and 2012, she took part in a campaign to secure women the right to drive. After the main campaign, which began in June 2011, she continued the driving campaign in Jeddah, and helped other women drivers in their dealings with the police and courts. Pointing out that there was no legal basis for charging women drivers, she and another woman human rights activist working on this issue sued the Saudi Arabia General Directorate of Traffic for rejecting their driver’s license applications. In March 2012, she was awarded the International Women of Courage Award by the U.S. Department of State for her opposition of the guardianship law and lawsuits for suffrage, and with these struggles, being a source of courage and inspiration to other women.

In a speech she gave at a session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva in September 2014, she spoke about the suppression of peaceful political demonstrations by human rights activists in Saudi Arabia, and the detention of her husband, lawyer and human rights activist Walid Abdulkhair. In the United States, she told senators and various human rights organizations about the situation of her husband and other political prisoners. During this visit, she received an open threat from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warning her to cease her human rights activities. Upon her return from America, her passport was confiscated. In December 2014, she went to King Abdulaziz Airport in order to travel to Brussels to take part in the 16th European Union NGOs Forum on Human Rights, but was stopped because the Ministry of Internal Affairs had issued a travel ban against her. Despite the travel ban and other obstacles, she continues her struggle for human rights.
Kaos GL was founded in 1994 by Turkish gay activists within the Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission, a part of the Ankara Branch of the Human Rights Association. Although their first setback was when the Association’s name and bylaws were found “immoral” by the Ankara Governorate, it became the first LGBT group in Turkey to achieve a legal personality in 2005. Since its founding, it has worked with the principle that “The liberation of gays will liberate heterosexuals as well”. It has reached a diverse public with its magazine Kaos GL, which has been published since its establishment and serves a voice for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and anti-heterosexists. Its academic sister magazine KaosQ publishes research in the area of Queer studies, drawing attention to the relationships between other inequalities intersecting with sexuality and society. In order to bring visibility to academic research in the area of LGBT studies, its members participate as guest speakers in classes in a variety of Ankara University departments.

In 2006, it organized Local Reporter Network Training to facilitate writing free of homophobia, transphobia and sexism, and created a web site, KaosGL.org, which published many articles, news items and translations. Founded in 2000, the Center holds cultural events, meetings and film showings, and its library was the first LGBT library in Turkey. Lastly, it formed the ‘Taliga Ritim Žugariyetleri’ percussion group, which took part in a variety of marches with the rainbow flag. Organizing Anti-Homophobia Meetings in various Turkish cities, KAOS GL allows the problems of LGBT individuals to be discussed on a local level. Since 2006, it has organized the International Day Against Homophobia, which has played an important role in sharing experiences and making LGBT people visible in Turkey. In May 2008, in cooperation with the Pembe Hayat LGBTT Association in Ankara, it organized the first LGBT march in the city as part of the International Day Against Homophobia activities. More than 100 gay, bisexual and transsexual men and women gathered in front of the Human Rights Monument on Yüksel Street and marched to Parliament. The marches have continued annually since then.

At the International Feminist Forum, which it has organized every year since 2012, it studies the relationships between feminism and conservative regimes. Through its Regional Network Working Group, it brings together other LGBT groups from the South Caucasus, the Middle East and the Balkans, allowing joint projects against homophobia. With the support of member lawyers, psychologists and psychiatrists, it provides legal and psychological support to those who have been victims of discrimination, hate speech and/or hate crimes.
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