'Where Am I?' the Pride Week in Turkey
28th Istanbul Pride Week has been observed online this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with the theme “Where am I?”. Social media users shared their support for the LGBTI+ individuals online. However, the reactions against LGBTI+ identities were also loud on social media timelines as well as boycott calls against companies that declared support for LGBTI+ equality. Let us read and discuss.
In Turkey, when it is talked about equality, freedom, peace and democracy, these words usually do not cover LGBTI+ identities. That is, LGBTI+ identities are the name of the movement that is looked down on the society, where justice is not manifested or tangent to them. For example, consider Hande Kader, a transgender woman and LGBTI+ rights advocate. Her body was found raped, mutilated, and burnt as a result of trans bashing. Although the murder of Özgecan Aslan caused nationwide outrage and sparked protests across the country on the following days (this is what it should be, I have no objection), but how much sound did we make for Hande? Not so much although both were burned and what happened to both of them was inhuman. On Twitter, there has been hate speech against LGBTI+ individuals for the last few days throughout the Pride Week. Today, there was a hashtag called ‘#LGBTFaaliyetleriYasaklansın’ (in English it means, 'LGBT activities must be forbidden') which was the top trending topic. I really wonder what these people did to you? Were the LGBTI+ groups in the news supporting the idea that they could marry children at the age of 9? Did they make statements about how they could beat or even kill their spouses / lovers if they wanted to do? Did they put pressure on women who like men and said, ‘If you are a woman, you have to like/love women’. Did they interfere with our life-styles and private lives? Did they try to uniformize all the people in the society? Were they cheaters? Did they lie to get what they wanted? They just wanted to be equals, and at the same time, they struggled with those who presented equality like grace. They just wanted to be accepted in the society and contribute to the life of society as much as they could. What did they get in return? Humiliation, contempt, beatings, violence, social pressure, lack of employment, honour killings and more ... Every official or informal institution, non-governmental organizations, shops, associations, roads, windows etc. covered with rainbow colour/flags in Norway, the country I have been living in. The country's prime minister, Erna Solberg, participated in celebrations on Saturday as part of the Pride Week in Norway. She said, 'Unconditional Love'; she said "Diversity"; with all her sincerity. Meanwhile, what is going on in Turkey? Again, insults, swearing and threats against anuone who supports LGBTI+ identities. For example, within the Pride Week, the flag at the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul was replaced with the Rainbow flag. Some people said, "Put that flag with its pole in your ass." Let's say this is a personal and ugly comment. What about Turkish Red Crescent Chairperson and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Vice President, Dr. Kerem Kınık’s hate speech against the LGBTI+? Although the aim of Turkish Red Crescent is “to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavors, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.”, (this information can be found on its official website). What did the Chairperson say? He published a tweet, “We will not allow human-pride be trampled. We will defend the creation and our children’s spiritual wellness. We will fight against anyone that penetrates into young minds claiming it as modernity in the dreams of pedophilia, presenting abnormalities as normal through communications, disturbing the healthy creation. There is no such thing!” As what Turkish Red Crescent chair claims, where is to ensure respect for the human beings? Where is the mutual understanding or friendships? What is the reason of this hate? Is it your duty to fight against Pride? Following his statement, hundreds of users responded asking whether or not Turkish Red Crescent would actually start fighting against the Islamist Ensar Foundation with whom the Red Crescent shared over $7 million donation before. Ensar Foundation’s cooperation with the Red Crescent had caused reactions for the Ensar Foundation having previously being involved in a series of child-rape cases. Many users asked about the fate of those children... As a psychologist, "to defend the creation and our children’s spiritual wellness", instead of focusing on the LGBTI+, we have to focus our energy on laws that cannot protect children, religious curriculum leading to brainwashing when they were too young and difficult economic conditions that their families had to struggle with. Why and how does a man's loving a man consensually (with love and without harm) damage a child's mental health? I ask this question not from a columnist perspective, but from a psychologist perspective.