“What Would Be Different If A Gay was Slapped There?”

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Tokat Yiyen İbne Olsaydı Ne Değişecekti?” (“What Would Be Different If A Gay Man Was Slapped?”) Bianet. org, 27 May 2014, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/155961-tokat-yiyen-ibne-olsaydi-ne-degisecekti?bia_source=newsletter

The mashup photo of Taner Kurucan, a Soma resident who was allegedly slapped by PM Erdoğan during his visit, and Yasin Keskin, an LGBTI activist holding a banner “Even if we are gay,” went viral online. Bianet interviewed Yasin Keskin as the mainstream media articles and comments covertly legitimized the violence against him as he was gay.

Yasin Keskin, the real owner of the photo taken at Gay Pride, filed a criminal complaint to the Antalya Prosecutor’s Office in order to determine the distributors of the photo and to prevent further publication of the images. The criminal complaint has been submitted to the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office.

“The comments under the released photo on social media include threats and hateful phrases.  I’m 29 years old and have spent 29 years under the oppression and violence of society against homosexual people. I have been exposed to violence many times during my struggle and now I am scared of going to Istanbul, even of going out,” LGBTI activist Keskin told Bianet.

“When I went to the courthouse, people said that they saw the photo. People that I don’t know have sent messages on social media. If anyone recognizes me while walking on the street, I could be exposed to a lynching attempt. We are living in a country in which homophobic and transgender murders occur frequently,” he added.

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“If a gay person is slapped, the violence is legitimate”

“Even the news articles that denied the authenticity of the photo,” he continued, “emphasized the fact that Taner Kurucan is not gay. However, I am still a victim here.”

Keskin said, “We don’t know the sexual orientation of Taner Kurucan. But being called gay is an insulting and libelous matter. In the comments under the photo, homosexuals have been insulted and also represented as being provocateurs.  If the slapped person is gay, the violence is legitimate. For example, there was a comment such as ‘I watched that video, the PM is definitely right. Fags had dared to insult the great PM of Turkey and then they tried to escape. What can I say, they deserved it.’

However, other news sources that considered the photo fake wrote that Taner Kurucan is not gay. Nevertheless, they have continued to divulge my private information. Can you imagine that? One website displayed my photo by blurring my legs, but showing my name and face.

I don’t know what Taner Kurucan thinks, but I condemned that attack against my personal rights. And I am asking: What would be different if a gay person had been slapped there? Is an ibne* a human-like creature that can be beaten or insulted?”

“I have been exposed to violence for years, but I became known because of this issue”

While mentioning that his struggle for LGBTI  rights has been going on for years with the resulting exposure to violence due to this struggle, Keskin protested against the public’s ignorance of his struggle and instead him becoming known due to this issue.

“I have struggled for LGBTI rights over the years and carried out several performances.  I was exposed to the police violence and struggled against the prosecution but wasn’t considered as newsworthy. Now, due to the slapping of another person, in order to damage his reputation, my photos have been disclosed.

In Turkey, even in court houses, homosexuals are not considered at all. But I will go on struggling,” he said.

Translator’s Note

*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 has recently added “a word said in anger” to its meanings. 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 when Pişkin argued that ibne cannot be considered an insult by Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdoğan because it is a sexual orientation, however, Pişkin was fined for defamation. In this sense, ibne’s current connotations lie somewhere between the American English terms “fag” and “queer.”

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