Turkey’s Minister of Family sees homosexuality as a “preference”

Ayşenur İslam, the Minister of Family and Social Policy, noted that there is no statistical record of gender and “preference” in applications received by the Ministry.

Source: “Aile bakanı eşcinselliği tercih sanıyor”, (“The Minister of Family thinks homosexuality is a preference”), KaosGL.org, 29 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18593

Responding to CHP MP Mahmut Tanal’s request for information on discrimination and violence against LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans), Minister İslam claimed that the Ministry produces “holistic social policies that target the entire society and prioritize disadvantaged segments.”

The Minister of Family does not observe international terminology

Not mentioning LGBTs in her response, the Minister of Family and Social Policy İslam used the term “preference” instead of “sexual orientation.”

Remarking that the applications received through the Ministry’s Social Support and Social Aid phone lines are processed based on the nature of the request, İslam said, “there is no statistical record regarding [the applicants’] gender and preference.”

In international documents, the term sexual orientation, which signals an unchangeable characteristic of the individual, is preferred over “sexual preference,” which implies voluntary choice.

The Protection of the Family Act ignores discrimination

Responding to the question regarding measures to make it easy for LGBTs to place complaints about domestic violence, İslam said that there is no discrimination in the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence Against Women Act.

Mahmut Tanal, a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, placed two expansive requests for information covering a number of issues including policies for the social inclusion of trans individuals, the social aid allocated to LGBTs, LGBT suicides, and policies addressing the special needs of minor, teenager, senior, and disabled LGBTs.

From Tanal to İslam: do you have a plan for an LGBT shelter?

Last November, Tanal had also placed a parliamentary question at the Grand National Assembly for İslam to respond to, but taking into consideration the possibility that his question might remain unaddressed, he had also communicated the same questions to the Ministry through requests for information, to which a response is mandatory.

Tanal’s questions to Ayşenur İslam in the two requests were as follows:

  1. What kinds of policies does your Ministry implement in order to address and develop proposed solution for the problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans citizens and to fulfill Turkey’s national and international responsibilities on the subject?
  2. How many and what kinds of requests have you received through your Domestic Violence Emergency and Social Aid phone lines from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals and their friends and family?
  3. Are you planning any kind of training for the personnel of the Ministry’s “Family and Social Services” and “Social Aid” bodies, including the staff of the Ministry’s phone lines, about the human rights of LGBTs, the problems that they experience, and potential solutions?
  4. Is the systematic violence experienced by LGBT children and adults being investigated within the context of the domestic violence studies that your Ministry carries out?
  5. Given that social prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans citizens is observed in government offices, is your Ministry planning to take action to encourage LGBT individuals’ to report domestic violence and apply for social aid, in an attempt to overcome LGBT individuals’ profound mistrust and fear of government offices and the justice system?
  6. Does your Ministry have a social policy addressing the problem of trans individuals being denied most employment opportunities and forced into undocumented sex work? In order for these individuals to break out of the poverty cycle, do you envisage protection and social inclusion policies addressing their needs?
  7. Which of the existing social aid and social protection services are suitable and convenient for LGBT individuals’ use without hesitation? What parts of the social aid and social protection expenditure have been allocated to services and aids that can be used by LGBT individuals? Is it known how much of this budget is used by people in the LGBT community?
  8. According to research conducted in Sweden and the UK, suicide rates among LGBT children and youth are five to ten times higher than among heterosexuals. Is your Ministry going to take an initiative to prevent LGBT suicides? Has such an initiative been launched and, if so, at what stage is it?
  9. What activities are being carried out within institutions under your Ministry addressing the special needs of minor, teenager, senior, and disabled LGBTs covered by social security? To what extent are gay, bisexual, and trans women able to benefit from services for women?
  10. Is there a plan to build a shelter for LGBT individuals?

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