Source: SPoD, “Basına ve Kamuoyuna: Eşcinsellik / İbnelik Bir Hakaret Değil Cinsel Yönelimdir,” (“Homosexuality / Faggotry is not an Insult but a Sexual Orientation,”) 28 November 2013, http://www.spod.org.tr/turkce/basina-ve-kamuoyuna-escinsellik-ibnelik-bir-hakaret-degil-cinsel-yonelimdir/
To the Press and the Public: Homosexuality/ Faggotry is not an Insult but a Sexual Orientation
LGBTIs got their share of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aggressive style against women, various opposition groups, and minority groups.
Following the Prime Minister’s tweet of “I am a perfect Alevi,” LGBTI activist Levent Pişkin tweeted, “Waiting for the PM to declare, ‘I am a perfect fag. Obviously I will not learn how to be a fag from you.’” The Prime Minister filed a criminal complaint against Pişkin following that tweet, revealing once more the policy of exclusion and disregard towards LGBTI in the 11-year long Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
Under the AKP regime, LGBTI people were labeled numerous times as “sick” and “perverted” by both government spokespersons and pro-government media, targeted for and victimized by hate killings, and debarred from fundamental rights, such as the right to life, work, shelter, healthcare, and education. The AKP government has made no gestures towards granting these rights to the LGBTI communities and it has also disregarded the yearslong political LGBTI struggle towards constitutional equality. The AKP’s members of the Constitution Reconciliation Committee demonstrated once more that the AKP government will not be accepting LGBTI people as equal citizens before the law by declaring that they “will not capitulate even if there were nothing else left to debate” on the clauses on “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
While not accepting LGBTI people as equal citizens and insulting them have been erroneously perceived as the freedom of expression, the 140-character-long criticism by an LGBTI activist that the government has been disregarding and excluding LGBTI individuals is being considered an act of insult to the Prime Minister. In democratic societies, the boundaries of freedom of expression are not drawn around the concept of insult to a Prime Minister, but in line with the defense of society’s vulnerable groups against discourses of hate and enmity.
Homosexuality, or “faggotry,” is neither an illness, nor a sin, nor an insult. Homosexuality, just like heterosexuality, is a becoming and existence. LGBTI people’s struggle for rights is a human rights struggle. The Prime Minister’s perception of “fag” as an insult is his way of once again ignoring LGBTI people, whose existence is disregarded and their right to life taken away, and targeting an LGBTI activist. This, for us, is unacceptable.
We, the undersigned LGBTI associations and initiatives, declare to the Prime Minister that we are a party to the court case against Levent Pişkin.
Independent LGBTI Activists
Marmara University LGBT – MadiMar
Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association
*The Turkish term ibne is originally derived from the Arabic word “boy” and is widely used today as a derogatory slang for gay men. The Turkish Language Institute Dictionary defines ibne as “a passive homosexual man” and “a word said in anger.” The term is being reclaimed by many in the LGBTI movement in Turkey. The court case of Levent Pişkin can be seen as a critical instance of such reclamation. In this sense, ibne’s current connotations lie somewhere between the American English terms “fag” and “queer.”