Source: eshmovie, “BDP’li Ertuğrul Kürkçü: Bütüm mesele ‘homo’ olamdığın halde ‘homoların’ hakkını savunabilmektir,” (“BDP’s Ertuğrul Kürkçü: The whole issue is defending the rights of ‘homos’ even if you are not a ‘homo’,”) 29 May 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNBKjHK1I1c
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Parliament Member Ertuğrul Kürkçü’s speech at The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) on 29 May 2013.
Note: Motion was rejected after parliamentary vote.
Esteemed Minister, dear friends, we support the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) call for an inquiry motion. We are grateful to our dear friend Binnaz Toprak for instigating this; she has helped put forth a very important issue.
This issue’s importance is not only about putting the rights of people within the mentioned sexual orientation group on the agenda, but also about emphasizing the fact that we cannot defend anybody’s rights if we don’t defend theirs. We will not be able to defend LGBT individuals’ rights if we don’t defend women’s rights, or Kurds’ rights, or the poor’s, or the worker’s. All rights are tied to each other at the core. You cannot make us or others think that you actually defend people’s rights if you neglect or deny one group’s.
Of course, we have a very valuable ally. In a TV show aired in 2002, the esteemed Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan stated: “It is mandatory to put the rights and freedoms of homosexuals under legal protection. We do not find the situations they are in, which we can view on some TV channels from time to time, to be humane.” We agree on few issues, but on this issue, we are in agreement. I wonder if he still thinks this way or will he call us “the tribe of Lot” when this issue is discussed. But let us take a look at some statistics to show us why we need to inquire into the state of LGBT individuals, who are at the center of this issue.
In 2009, Professor Yılmaz Esmer of Bahçeşehir University conducted a field research titled “Radicalism and Extremism” covering 34 provinces and 1715 people. To the question “Who would you not want to be neighbors with” 87% of the respondents answered “homosexual people.” Among the answers are the following: 72% of the respondents said “people who drink alcohol,” 66% said “people who do not believe in any religion,” 66% said “Jews,” 52% said “Christians.” Therefore, we can clearly see that there is a highly prevalent and common bias in society. Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) have penalized the TV series “Hung” aired on a channel for showing homosexuality as normal, despite the fact that this was not based on any law. This shows that from time to time, officials with power are biased and have been aggressive to this group, to this sexual orientation, to the totality of this sexual orientation.
On the other hand, the Military Law puts homosexuals at their opposing side and furthermore, forces them to show extremely humiliating evidence to prove their homosexuality in order to be exempted from the military service. Even though there are statements that reject these practices, people who go to military check-ups see the treatment that people who are not like them receive.
Therefore, there is a group of people who are pushed to the outside boundaries of society because of public bias, traditional behaviors, legends, and negative myths. Special precautions need to be taken in order to make them equal with the rest of the society. This is why this inquiry is necessary.
Let’s not say, “let’s investigate and see.” Instead, legal assurance is needed to guarantee that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people or “LGBT individuals” are equal members of this society in terms of their rights and that they will not be subject to discrimination, so that through affirmative action, these people who have become minorities in the face of public bias can be regained to the level of equal rights experienced by the majority.
During discussions on the Constitution, the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) Parliamentary Group has requested that the right of sexual orientation be inserted into the constitution and be documented. Unfortunately, because of the objections of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) representatives, this issue remained in clauses of disagreement. Let’s hope, today, that there is a miracle. Let the Parliament take a huge leap, declare its will, and legitimize a solution to constitutional disagreement.
I want to note something else. None of us have come to this world with total tolerance. The path to these ideas has been paved by making choices in the face of huge injustices. Personally I, as someone who had never tested out his attitude towards homosexuals, had to make a choice while I was housed in the same unit as homosexual individuals in prison during which I was confronted with the cruelty imposed on homosexual inmates who had been imprisoned for revolutionary or political movements. Either we were going to see him as a fellow revolutionary or desert him to be tortured. We took them among the revolutionaries and marched together. We learned the inclusion of this right under cruelty, in the prisons of fascism and we will never ever forget it.
The first time I met a homosexual was in prison due to the complaints of other inmates, when revolutionaries overtook the prison administration before the 1980s. I asked him, I said: “Why do you do this?” The answer he gave me was very simple, fundamental, and humane: “I am in love brother, what can you do?” There was no response I could give to this answer other than accept it. Some women love women, some men love men, this is the reality of our lives and learning to live with this is the duty of the majority.
Defending the rights of the majority, the rights of heterosexual individuals, the rights of Turks, the rights of the middle class, defending ruling morality, are easy things; the law, the state, the public, everyone is on your side anyway. When you can defend the rights of people who are not like this, then you have truly become human, then you have truly won the right to defend people’s rights.
When we said, “We are Kurds in Şişli and homosexual in Taksim” during gay pride, media outlets that propagandized against this said “they are homos.” In truth, it would not have mattered even if I were but the whole issue is defending the rights of “homos” even though you are not a “homo,” they defend their rights anyway. Turkey will be a different country the day when people who are not like them defend their rights. Turkey will truly be a different country when Turks defend the rights of Kurds, when heterosexuals defend the rights of homosexuals, when men defend the rights of women, when the elderly defend the rights of the young, when the well off take side of the poor. Otherwise, it will just continue as it always has. Then it will be as it always has been, you can continue stoning homosexuals, or when you can’t stone them, you can insult them and leave the Parliament [referring to AKP Düzce representative İbrahim Korkmaz who left the Parliament shouting “that is immoral” during CHP Bursa representative Aykan Erdemir’s speech.]
This is why we want this motion to pass. We call on Prime Minister Erdoğan to stand behind his words from 2002. We hope that the parliamentary majority will surprise us this time and accept this inquiry motion.
It will, at the end of the day, be the duty of this Parliament to assure that homosexuals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals have the same rights as us, and even have more rights than us to close this gap. We will certainly be by the oppressed and stand with them.
I thank Binnaz Toprak for this motion.
I greet you all with love. (Cheers from BDP and CHP ranks.)