Ahura LGBTI is founded: We want to be taken back into the temples we were kicked out from

LGBTI’s from the minority groups of Turkey founded Ahura LGBTI last month. One of its founders, Darin, told kaosGL.org the emergence and works of Ahura LGBTI.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Ahura LGBTI kuruldu: Kovulduğumuz ibadethanelere geri dönmek istiyoruz.” (“Ahura LGBTI is founded: We want to be taken back into the temples we were kicked out from”), kaosGL.org,  12 February 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18718)

What kind of a need set off the foundation of Ahura LGBTI ?

The purpose of our foundation was to bring together minority LGBTI groups. Ahura LGBTI is formed from LGBTIs from Turkey and Kurdistan. We did not act like there were only Turkish, Kurdish or Arab LGBTIs in the country, while we were forming it. We reached out to as many as minority LGBTIs as we could and listened to their problems.

Our foundation is as colorful as a rainbow and consists of Kurdish, Turkish, Arab, Georgian, Armenian, Rum, Assyrian and Jewish activists. We are here to defend the rights of any individuals that have been under pressure, displaced, or murdered due to their race, beliefs, sexual orientation or sexual identity.

What kind of needs and demands do the minority LGBTIs have?

Our initial demand is to reclaim the temples we were once expelled from. We want LGBTIs of faith to be taken back to their synagogues and churches. Active LGBTI formations in Turkey are almost ignoring the minority LGBTIs, they act as if they are unaware of their existence. By forming Ahura, we try to show that minority LGBTIs exist too. In a way, we are standing against being ignored by the Muslim and nationalist LGBTIs.

You are planning to re-enter the churches that trans minorities are expelled from. What kind of activities are you currently conducting in İzmir, with which churches?

Yes, we want to return to the churches we were expelled from because minority LGBTIs of faith do exist. We stand against the excommunication of trans individuals from churches and we are discussing the issue with the churches. People should not be denied their rights to practice their religion because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity. We are planning to organize panels and talks about LGBTIs at the churches in Turkey by contacting LGBTI organizations in Europe. Protestant churches in İzmir approach our initiative positively and accept us. Currently we are planning to conduct common activities with İzmir Protestant Resurrection Church and we look forward to enhancing our reach to all churches.

You have the symbols of 3 Abrahamic religions on your logo. The relationship of LGBTIs to faith has been often criticized and ignored. What are you planning to do with regards to this issue?

Certainly, there are believers and non-believers among the LGBTI. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; we can’t comment on it. But the existence of LGBTIs of faith should be recognized. Even though we are not accepted by the religions and expelled from our temples like mosques, synagogues and churches, we as LGBTIs of faith will insist and enter these places. Our purpose in using the symbols of the three religions was to show that LGBTIs of faith exist and that the religions were siblings.

Ahura LGBTI Logo

Ahura LGBTI’s Logo

Speaking of the logo, what is the reason for using the peacock?

In most religions, especially in Abrahamic religions, the angelic peacock is associated with Satan and the Ezidi sect that regards it as sacred was shown as worshipping satan. Ezidi belief is a life philosophy built on goodness. This belief was othered because of taboos and prejudices of the people, and Ezidis just like LGBTIs were othered. The peacock resembles LGBTIs, both in its noble stance and in its diverse colors. This is why we chose this symbol.

What does Ahura mean, then?

Ahura means “Master of Knowledge” in Farsi. Ahura Mazda was associated with goodness and has become the symbol of goodness. As people with good hearts that do not think evil, with good intentions, we chose to use this name.

What kind of activities have you organized up to now? What did you share?

Until now we have joined every meeting in İzmir. We frequently have meetings with other organizations in İzmir and take common decisions on what to do in the future. We are meeting political parties and recommend they appoint LGBTI candidates. As we are not members or supporters of any political party, most parties approach us positively and we schedule meetings with them.  We join the meetings of Anadolu Party and HDP as much as we can. In our own meetings we focus on our projects. We have projects such as language courses, folk dance courses, and panels in churches.

You can reach Ahura LGBTI through their facebook page.

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