Is society ready for homosexuals?

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Toplum Eşcinsellere Hazır mı?” (“Is society ready for homosexuals?”) bianet.org, 16 January 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/152847-toplum-escinsellere-hazir-mi

                                      

“Sooner or later, a faggot will be president. Let’s give up resisting this progress.” “Society was ready for heterosexual politicians, look what happened!” “There is no division between society and homosexuals.”

LGBTI people have never been this visible in local elections before! Six LGBTI pre-candidates from Istanbul alone took action to be involved in the city councils of different political parties.

Okan Bayülgen once asked the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek: “When will we have a homosexual mayor in Turkey?” He received the answer, “Never, I hope. There should not be one.”

LGBTI visibility in politics has always been discussed with arguments such as “Is society ready for homosexuals?”

bianet asked the pre-candidates: “Is society ready for homosexuals?”

“Sooner or later a faggot will be president”

Şevval Kılıç, HDP Şişli City Council Pre-Candidate:

Society is always ready. This is a landscape where people with conscience live. Nobody can make me believe otherwise. We know that Turkey’s richest and most famous artists and executives are LGBTI people.

This is a discourse that is shaped by the fears of the electoral base and votes. LGBTI people are not more stupid than other people. These are historical gaffs that are said with the concern, “Do we get the negative reaction of the grassroots?” LGBTI people are qualified and educated like everyone.

This is an argument that conservative segments use a lot. If you practice politics, your aim is already to change and to transform society in a good way. The statements that instigate homophobia and transphobia are a waste of time. Sooner or later a fag will be president. Let’s give up resisting this progress.

“There is no division between society and homosexuals.”

Sedef Çakmak, CHP Beşiktaş City Council Pre-Candidate:

First, we need to clarify that there is no division between society and homosexuals. You cannot know the sexual orientation of the nurse who takes your blood, the teacher in your school, the grocer downstairs, the deputy you voted for, your children or your mother if they do not tell you. So homosexuals, or rather LGBTI people, are a part of this society, too. The only difference is between those who deny the existence of these groups and those who do not.

From a different point of view, it is a luxury to wait for all the people living in this society to reach a certain level of awareness on LGBTI issues. People get killed because they are LGBTI; people are exposed to hate speech and crime; people are barred from the right to education, shelter and work; people are forced to marry a person who they do not want, in short people’s basic human rights are extorted. The main responsibility of the social state is to protect all citizens’ rights.

“Society was ready for heterosexual politicians, look what happened”

Asya Elmas, HDP Kadıköy City Council Pre-Candidate:

The phrase, “Society is not ready,” expressed for many years, is a justification used by the heterosexist logic to stonewall us in regards to politics. We are one of the groups that understands society very well because we know what pain is. We ask, society was ready for heterosexual politicians, look what happened. Now, it is time to make room for LGBTI people in local authorities. We will see in March if society is ready or not.

“Society is ready for LGBTI visibility, politicians are not.”

Boysan Yakar, CHP Şişli City Council Pre-Candidate:

In my opinion, until today, it was mostly the politicians who were not ready for homosexual visibility in Turkey. However, we are a part of the people and we are all together. Contrary to popular belief, we walk Istanbul’s streets in the daytime as well, we are involved in life to fulfill our needs, we live in this country. But we live as the direct targets of all kinds of discrimination and hate, falling victim to countless hate killings, we are not employed and we are barred from education.

As an important part of society that has been waiting for a solution for over 20 years in Turkey, our organized struggle continues and we are waiting for our legal requests to be fulfilled. In my opinion, politicians should trust us. We are sure that we will do a great job within the state and in municipalities as we do in so many areas!

“This society has seen Zeki Müren, how can it not be ready?”

Ebru Kırancı, HDP Beyoğlu City Council Pre-Candidate:

How can society not be ready? This society has seen Zeki Müren. From now on, it needs to be accepted that LGBTI rights are human rights, to remember that trans people are human in the daytime instead of just touching trans people secretly at night. We exist in all parts and fields of society, we existed and we will exist! Besides being municipality employees, we should also be deputies, ministers and presidents. Our connection with this society is more than you think.

“Is society not ready or is it the government that is unwilling?”

Çelik Özdemir, CHP Beyoğlu City Council Pre-Candidate:

Especially because of the conservative discourse that is being pumped by the AKP, a serious part of society hates everyone who is not like them. The only way to overcome this is through education, which should be given to society and to individuals and through awareness raising. If you do not endeavour to do this, you will be party to crimes and the abuse of rights. Generally, societies in which minority rights are protected carefully are the societies where democracy is internalized and that virtue is developed. In this manner, a society with individuals who have respect for others is a society that is easy  for everyone to live in.

To improve this, we should ask ourselves how much power we have for acceptance instead of questioning whether society is ready or not. In my opinion, the problem here is how willing the authority and the government are rather than the readiness of society.

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