Netherlands: Row erupts over lesbian foster home for Muslim boy

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from Netherlands Radio Worldwide:

A 9-year-old Dutch boy of Turkish origin is at the centre of a growing row between the Netherlands and Turkey. When Yunus was a few months old, child social services in the Netherlands removed him from his biological parents’ care because it had strong suspicions he was being abused. It was decided to place Yunus in a foster home. He was eventually placed in the care of a lesbian couple who have looked after him ever since.

Earlier this month, Yunus’ biological mother appeared on Turkish television and made a tearful appeal for her son’s return. She also urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is due to visit the Netherlands on Thursday, to intervene in the case.

Media hype
Yunus hasn’t been to school since the furore broke. Late last week, the foster parents and Yunus had to go into hiding after they were stalked by a Turkish TV crew. The case has received extensive daily coverage in the Turkish media, and it is also a hot topic on social media, both in Turkey and the Netherlands.

In 2008, child social services decided to place Yunus’ two older brothers in the care of the same lesbian couple. The mother strongly objected on religious grounds. She kidnapped the two and took them to her parents’ home in Turkey. Social workers had already had to take the brothers away from their biological parents on two occasions: once for abuse and three years later because the mother was considered “ unfit” .

"Forcible assimilation"
Some prominent Turkish politicians argue that children of Turkish ancestry should be raised by Muslim heterosexuals. The Turkish human rights commission has even charged that Yunus is being “forcibly assimilated”. Child social services says it does take the biological parents’ wishes into account when they place children, but there simply aren’t enough Muslims who want to become foster parents. Their main concern, say social workers, is the child’s welfare. Since the controversy erupted, several dozen Turkish and Moroccan parents have expressed an interest in becoming foster parents.

Dr. Jo Hermanns, a professor of childhood education and family support at the University of Amsterdam, is outraged by the ongoing controversy. He says no one is thinking about Yunus’ interests. He asks: “How would you feel as a 9-year-old if everyone had an opinion about you? When everyone has forgotten this idiotic discussion”, he adds, “it could continue to haunt Yunus for years and affect his future happiness.”

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