Source: Kaos GL, “CHP Bursa Milletvekili Aykan Erdemir,” (“CHP Bursa Parliamentarian Aykan Erdemir,”) 29 May 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9nEXyrsgU8
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Parliament Member Aykan Erdemir’s speech at The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) on 29 May 2013.
Note: Motion was rejected after parliamentary vote.
Distinguished members of the Parliament,
I respectfully salute the honorable parliament and our citizens who are watching us on TV and on their computer screens. For the sake of formality, I received permission to talk against the motion but now I will talk in favor of it.
“They could not find a place for my child in this huge world.” Distinguished members of Parliament, these are the words of the mother of our citizen with a different sexual orientation who was murdered in September 2010 in Bursa. “They could not find a place for my child in this huge world.”
Today, we are talking about opening a tiny space in this huge world to fit these parents’ children. Well, is there a tiny space for the ones who have been murdered by 12 stab wounds, by 40 stab wounds, or for the ones whose bodies have been inflicted by wounds that will not heal, whose wounded hearts will not heal?
There is a movie about the life, experiences and sufferings of a community named LISTAG , which brings together the parents of LGBT individuals in Turkey, called “My child.” Direted by Can Candan, the movie calls out to society and to humanity with the warmest and friendliest of feelings. And in the documentary these mothers and fathers ask: “is there space for my child too?” “Is there justice for my child too?” “Is there freedom for my child too?” “Is there equality for my child too?”
This documentary is so important that we would have liked for all the deputies in the Turkish Parliament to watch this family movie once and listen to these parents and be able to empathize with them, to be able to feel like them. We asked for an appointment with Mr. Cemil Çiçek, the president of the assembly. Thankfully he did not refuse us and listened to us speak for a long time about the documentary and the content of it, and said: “It would not be appropriate to show it on assembly grounds, but show the documentary in a venue close to the Parliament and also invite the deputies.” And we immediately went to the mayor of Çankaya; Bülent Tanık and asked for help, fortunately he also did not refuse us and assigned the Contemporary Arts Center of Çankaya Municipality for the first possible moment. We sent an invitation to all deputies of the assembly and asked them to join us in hearing out the stories of mothers and fathers whose children had different sexual orientations and gender identities. Here I would like to thank you, because on that evening, these parents were not alone. Because 6 deputies of the assembly did not let them be alone that evening. CHP (Republican People´s Party) deputies Gürsel Tekin, Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Melda Onur and Tufan Köse were there. We thank them. At the same time, AKP’s (Justice and Development Party) Trabzon deputy Safiye Seymenoğlu was with us, we are also thanking her for her empathy.
Distinguished members of the Parliament, the world is changing, Turkey is changing, society is changing. We are determined to walk towards a better and more beautiful world. See what the Minister of State responsible for Women and Family Affairs Aliye Kavaf was saying only three years ago on 7 March 2010: “I believe that homosexuality is a disease, a biological disorder; in my opinion this is something that needs to be treated.” The public reacted to her words. Today she is no longer with us as a minister or as a deputy. But in the last three years, Turkey has come a long way. On 10 May 2013, approximately after 3 years, look to another minister, the Minister of Family and Social Policies Mrs Fatma Şahin who said: “We adopted the principle of being against all forms of discrimination as we started on this road.” And here I thank to Fatma Sahin and by taking strength from her positive comments that the world is changing and taboos are being broken. A better, more beautiful, more equal, and a more freer world is possible. Today there is an organization called Al Fatiha. It is an organization that operates in 20 countries composed of Muslims who are gay, who are people with different sexual orientations and gender identities, and their families and friends. In the past, it was thought that religious beliefs and different sexual orientation or gender identities could not come together, but today in many countries around the world, religious Muslim homosexual, transsexual, gay and lesbian individuals are organizing, and changing their society, even if it happens slowly.
Unfortunately, Turkey is not developing in the pace that we would like. And in a lot of international reports, Turkey´s discrimination, Turkey´s slowness in this field is being criticized. For example, there are critiques in the U.S. State Department´s Human Rights report in 2012. Amnesty International´s 2013 report has are various criticisms. 2013´s draft decision of the European Parliament’s Progress Report on Turkey contains several critiques and states “Turkish Government does not deal effectively with the discrimination and violence against LGBT individuals.” And in the same way, the removal of a clause on gender identity protection from anti-discrimination and equality draft law. This means that there is a significant distance to cross in this area, but do not think that this distance will be covered with ideas and inspiration from afar. It´s enough just to look to our own past, own tradition, own core. The Republic is a project of equal citizenship, the republic is the one for those who have no one, the republic is first of all a state of law, is the nation’s will at it’s zenith. This republic, which is the one for those who have no one, is the fortress of equal citizenship against discrimination! We believe that this republic will also be attenders to the unattended, the one for those who have no one in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity. [Some contradictory voices rise in Parliament]
Look, it is not possible to get anywhere with anger, with violence. If you would have watched this documentary, if you would have listened to “My Child”, I believe that your heart would also soften, I believe that you also could empathize. But we know that society is changing slowly. Hate speech and hate crimes are liable to sanctions even if it happens slowly. [AKP Düzce representative İbrahim Korkmaz leaves the Parliament shouting “that is immoral.”]
As CHP, we wish that in Turkey, we would not move with anger and hate. As we have also engaged in our election report; we are demanding the creation of a legal arrangement for the fight against discrimination and hate crimes in Turkey as soon as possible. As you know, there is a platform in Turkey generated by more than 70 NGOs, it is a platform for a hate crime legislation campaign. There is also a hate crimes law draft by this platform. I wish that we would take this draft, discuss it in the assembly and accept it. In order to make it possible, I presented the proposal, which is the product of 70 NGOs common will, in December for the parliamentary agenda. We want that, we hope that one day in this huge world, and one day also in the huge agenda of the assembly a tiny space and time will be created for hate crimes law.
Finally, here I want to call out to LISTAG mothers, LISTAG fathers: Mother Şule, Father Ömer, Mother PInar, I know that you are watching us, I know that you are wondering whether there is a tiny space in our huge world for your children. I believe that today at The Grand National Assembly of Turkey, this high assembly will stop the tears in your eyes and will say that we got have space for your children in our huge world and we have space for our children in our huge world.
With love and respect.