“There are those who react when there is interference in the way of life of certain groups, but they too can become silent when it comes to LGBTI+, a group whose very right to life is not recognised in some quarters. The balance of the mind is used as an excuse in the killing of Kurds, and sensitivity in the killing of LGBTI+,” writes Ahmet Güneş for Yeni Yaşam.
This week is the LGBTI+ movement’s Pride Week in Turkey. This is a week each year generally celebrated with a rich programme of varied activities, in which the Pride March takes place, demands for rights are set out, discussions are held. These activities take place within a framework of a greater visibility of the movement, and discussion of its problems. It presents opportunities through various symposiums, speeches and gatherings, for re-evaluation of the steps the movement has taken and the targets it has set for itself.
With the impediments placed before community movements in the last few years the LGBTI+ movement has not been able to carry out these activities, which constitute a very meaningful gathering for them, because the bans applied by the government.
The LGBTI+ movement has been specifically targeted by different parts of the government, from the highest offices down to the Department for Religious Affairs. The fact is that the regime, which many say Erdoğan rules more like a sultan than a president, claimed that withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention (The Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence) was acceptable behaviour.
Last week, the police attacked an LGBTI+ event in Maçka Park in Istanbul where the LGBTI+ movement had organised a picnic as part of the Pride Week’s activities. Unfortunately this savage attack hardly made the news, except on a few channels.
Naturally, there were those in the movement who said, “Are we not opposition too? Why have we been abandoned?”
We have been blockaded by the directives and perplexing prohibitions issued by the dark state forces to turn every day into a nightmare. All sectors of community opposition have experienced their share of this state rage. From killings in the streets to lynchings, and most recently the murder of Deniz Poyraz in the Izmir HDP building, we have all been through a lot of trauma.
The murder of Deniz Poyraz justifiably brought about a lot of indignation, and we were again to witness the state protecting the murderer through lenience, and subsequently assaulting on protestors who protested against the incident. There was verbal abuse against Poyraz for being an HDP supporter and there was a dismissive attitude of half-hearted investigation because of the Kurdish aspect. There were cries of, ‘the balance of his mind was disturbed, he is a schizophrenic’, frequently used to whitewash suspected Kurd-killers. This defence will be used in court tomorrow or the day after to whitewash the suspect, and no-one will ask, ‘Why should schizophrenics kill Kurds?’
Let us look at it from another angle. If a murderer raided an LGBTI+ association building and murdered a transvestite, for example, would there be the same reactions? Some will say this is a different argument. I am sure some opposition circles would remain silent, though some would still protest. But the state would again comment and find excuses for the murderer. The same arguments typically used in hate murders: honour and sensitivity.
The existence of this community movement is still denied today, their demands for rights are consistently muddied by manipulation, and attacks against them are becoming normalised. There are those who react when there is interference in the way of life of certain groups, but they too can become silent when it comes to the LGBTI+, a group whose very right to life is not recognised in some quarters.
The balance of the mind is used as an excuse in the killing of Kurds, and sensitivity in the killing of LGBTI+. The state is powerful, it holds the power of decision in both cases.
There is no choice other than to stand alongside every group who is still oppressed, blocked, dragged down, whose very breathing is forbidden by religion, whose sexual preference is denounced as a sin, that is, who is targeted by the state in every way possible.
Silence on one issue and objections on another will not bring these dark days into the light. Celebrate Pride Week!