A Turkey and Europe with no LGBTIs. Till when exactly?
“We demand that you stand up with us against those who cover up discrimination in the name of morality, culture and traditions and conceal hate crimes, speeches and even murders.” This text was presented at the 49th COSAC Conference hosted by Ireland with the participation of 300 member and non-member country representatives working on EU affairs and distributed to them during the speech by Öztop on June 25, 2013. I am very honored to be here because it acknowledges the important work that we, activists from all countries, are doing. While we face an exhausting number of discriminations in today’s world, I am here to address a form that is often legitimized by culture, family values and traditions: Homophobia and transphobia. Turkey surely does not criminalize homosexuality directly; however secondary laws, judiciary approaches, social treatments and the discourse of politicians and bureaucrats are punishing LGBTI people on a daily basis. Of course, from France to Russia, the situtation of LGBTI people in overall Europe is still very similar. When we are bullied and discriminated against for loving the “wrong” people or being born in the “wrong” body and identity, we rarely find family support. Our teachers and school authorities often overlook the painful layers of discriminations we go through and sometimes even perpetuate discrimination themselves. And our friends are often not given the tools to stand up for us, for who we are. This can lead to us feeling isolated, underachieving in education, dropping out of school, being unhappy in our families and with friends, and facing several psychological distress. It is not a secret that so many lives of our friends have been lost due to cruel bullying incidents. We do not become LGBTI people after the age of 18, so problems must be addressed at all times. We, as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, demand that you stand up for us, and stand against those who play with our lives. That you stand up with us against those who try to cover up discrimination in the name of morality, culture, and traditions and conceal hate crimes, hate speeches and even hate murders. The demand of Turkey’s youth to practice authority over their lives and freedoms has been attacked by government’s pepper gas and riot police. The government has moved its violent approach to arresting youth who only expressed thoughts and feelings on social media. I invite you all to listen to the life built in Taksim which harbors no assult, violence or fights, not to the disinformation of the government. Turks, Kurds, Alawites, women with headscarves and LGBTs have built up a life in Taksim Square and that is exactly what the government’s irrational discourse and violence is fighthing against. Our governments must be held accountable for the reality of their actions, the level of support they bring to civil society, and the reality of their action plans against homophobia and transphobia in education. All member countries should carefully look at what they stand for, urge an end to discrimination in Europe, and never bargain or negotiate with member of associate member countries on the lives of LGBTI people during EU accession periods. I would like to thank Mr. Hannigan for his generous invitation; the organizers for this very emotional moment, Minister Costello and Minister Quinn on behalf of numerous people for playing such a key role on behalf of his government and launching the Action Plan on Bullying. I also would like to address the high level of attention given by UNESCO and IDAHO 2012 campaigns on the issues of youth and education. Progress will be possible only if changes are happening at multiple layers. This event is one of the big steps ahead of us. I am very honored to be here with you today.