Archive - 2012 - 13/02/2012

Three Evils Behind Homophobia Join Forces in Our Regions, So Should We To Fight Them!

The sexist, nationalist, racist and illiberal cultural and political practices, which shape the homophobic and transphobic atmosphere in the Middle East, Caucasus, and Balkans, have common historical ties.

Kaos GL which struggles against discriminations due to sexual orientation and gender have been organizing the International Meeting Against Homophobia, which takes place at the week of May 17 every year, for 6 years. Kaos GL, which is an organization struggling against discrimination enhancing the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) individuals, intends to create a platform with the aim of discussing the discrimination against LGBT individuals and making it visible.

A New Step in the International Meeting Against Homophobia

Last year, Kaos GL which took a new step within the scope of the International Meeting Against Homophobia, gathered opponents of homophobia and transphobia in Turkey with the same objectives.

Despite the fact that it has been 20 years since the World Health Organization excluded homosexuality from the “International Classification of Diseases” in 17 May 1990, stigmatization of and discrimination against homosexuals still continue. Discrimination against homosexuals does not only limit the access to health services; thus, results in exclusion from health programs. It also deprives LGBT individuals of their fundamental human rights in Turkey, as well as in many regions in the world. The most importantly, discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender might take the form of violence and hate crimes. While homosexuality is regarded as a “crime” in many regions of the world, homosexuals are treated as “criminals without crime” in Turkey.

Whose Concern is Homophobia?

Kaos GL, which incorporated May 17 (the International Day Against Homophobia) into the program of “Meeting Against Homophobia”, asks the question of “Whose Concern is Homophobia?”. It tries to establish ties among different types of discriminations. It aims at knitting horizontal ties among freedom struggles and different struggle practices against these discriminations.

The question of “Whose concern is homophobia?” has been embraced by the academia and civil society when Kaos GL drew attention to the connections between the issues of homophobia and transphobia and sexism, nationalism, racism and militarism. By this way, various student collectives and civil society organizations, which want adapt the Meeting Against Homophobia into their own struggles and get organized in their own cities and campuses, has been established. Thanks to that the issue of homophobia could get to be discussed in the campuses and cities in which LGBT individuals are not visible yet.

The trivets of homophobic blockade are common

On the other hand, despite the fact that the institutionalization of LGBT movement and rights struggle has provided the movement with new openings and various rights have been obtained especially in the West, homophobia and transphobia still constitute a global problem. That being the case in the West, in the aforesaid three regions at the periphery, which will also be members of the Network, homophobia and transphobia, blended with sexism, nationalism, racism, militarism and religious bigotry, turns into a blockade.

A horizontal Network against the blockade is necessary and possible

The opponents of homophobia and transphobia who came to Ankara for the first meeting of “The Regional Network Against Homophobia” constituted of the representatives from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lebanon, Serbia, Croatia, Palestine, Israel, Armenia, Georgia, Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro, Egypt and Iran, as well as the representatives of LGBT organizations from Turkey. Kaos GL, which issued an international call for “The Regional Network Against Homophobia” initiative, had positive answers from the opponents of homophobia and LGBT organizations of 13 countries. The deep interest of countries which answered the call but could not attend to the first meeting shows that “The Regional Network” initiative will prosper in the forthcoming period.

The conditions of focusing to a vision which would develop a regional coalition in struggle are not sufficient

The struggle experiences and domestic conditions which were shared by the opponents that came together for “The Regional Network Against Homophobia” demonstrated that the sexist, nationalist, racist, militarist and illiberal cultural and political practices have common historical ties. It came into open that when the LGBT activists and homophobia opponents of all three regions come together in different meetings (though for the same subject) in any “Western” countries, they cannot find conditions which would enable focusing on common historical conditions and developing a regional coalition in struggle.

The preoccupations with heterosexist regimes prevent direct meetings

With this vision, as a LGBT organization from the Middle East, Kaos GL was very excited when it first took the initiative. Despite Kaos GL was not worried at all, for having been prepared for a long time, we realized that certain friends of ours have been quiet worried. It was necessary to free ourselves from the blockade of alienation which stem from the political contestations of our heterosexist regimes in order to come together - with our regional localness- and establish a direct dialog against common the enemy, nationalism and homophobia which is one of its manifestations. For this very reason, the first and most important success of Ankara Meeting was enabling the activists who came to Turkey from these three regions to take pro-dialogue responsibility against the blockade of alienation in question.

The terms such as “nationalism”, “state violence” and “homo-nationalist” incorporated into the discussion

Kaos GL, continuing its constructive and transformative quest, intervened into the crisis, regarding the host country in which IGLYO (International LGBT Youth and Student Organization) general assembly will take place, between Palestinian and Israeli LGBT organizations. It pioneered spatial revision to enable equal dialogue conditions, in a peaceful way. In this way, for the first time in IGLYO history, starting from the Palestine and Israel example the regional sensitivities and realities started to be discussed. This development did not only bring about more equal and manifold representation in the discussions within such a parent LGBT organization as IGLYO but it also made IGLYO’s member countries think about the Middle East for months. In the first time in IGLYO history, the organizations involved into productive discussion platforms, through using terms such as “nationalism”, “state violence” and “homo-nationalist structures”.

The attendance of lesbian core-organizations and possibility of Feminist politics

At the same time, the Ankara Meeting added more value and further dimensions to the Regional Network by assuring the attendance of lesbian core-organizations from three countries. Novi Sad from Serbia, Meem from Lebanon and Thessaloniki Lesbian Organizations from Greece shared the movements in their regions within the feminist framework in the Meeting. A common will to maintain the Regional Network meetings, attributing more importance to the attendance of core-organizations and feminist compositions from the region, came to the surface. With this will and self-confidence, Kaos GL which attended to Mediterranean-European Network of NGOs, presented the “Regional Network against Homophobia” in Tunisian forum. The “Regional Network” was accepted to be an example parexcellence, registered and opened to publicity. In the same way, the Regional Network experience was registered in the Malaysia conference of Sexual and Corporeal Rights Coalition, of which Kaos GL was an attendee.

Again, in the same way, the success of the “Regional Network” meeting enabled the organization of International Feminist Forum as a fresh development. Within the scope of Feminist Meeting, new connections will be establish especially with feminist representatives of such countries as Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen which recently experience social and political transformations. By this way, it will be possible to realize one of the main purposes of Meeting Against Homophobia –establishing horizontal ties among different struggle areas and enabling different struggles to nurture one another.

The struggle against homophobia should also target nationalism

It was understood that the situation, which was shared in the meeting by the representative of Lebanon who announced that “When we first started the movement, it was told that this development was supported by Israel and it would ruin the future of Arab society and youth!” was a valid picture for almost every country in the three regions. In fact, Kaos GL had structured the program of the first meeting with this vision.

The psychiatrist and journalist author Prof. Dr. Selçuk Candansayar, who delivered a speech in “What do the doors closed by nationalism obscure?” forum, stated that in all three regions we have grown up being contaminated with nationalism. He also shared that in order to get rid of this filth we must not forget the fact that the downtrodden and subaltern do not need any enemies and nationalism serves to homophobic and transphobic authorities.

In order to be free together an ethical choice should the bases of dialogue and solidarity

The Middle East, Caucasus and Balkans “Regional Network” for solidarity in the struggle against homophobia has created a great deal of excitement and increased the mutual trust of attendees which would enable organization and expansion of the Network in the following period. It was understood that there has been a joint maturity and skillfulness to take rational steps in order to overcome chronic alienation distances, such as the ones among Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan and between Palestine and Israel through anti-homophobia and transphobia struggle.

The constituents declared that they will insist on making an ethical choice for dialogue and solidarity despite the fact that they might not agree upon each and every subject. It was discussed that only through such a choice it would be possible for different struggles to nurture one another and, in this way, we would be able to expand the areas in which we can breathe a sigh of relief.

No regional network which emulates state policies!

It was agreed that the annual conferences of the “Regional Network” will remain to take place in Turkey. It was promised to act in solidarity, while simultaneously working in cooperation to enable each region’s own domestic meeting through meetings among countries during the whole year. It was concluded to avoid the stereotypes which stem from state policies and to come together over domestic and common problems without any discrimination. The preparations of the second main Ankara Regional Network Meeting is planned to start in February. It is also planned that a similar regional network, whose preparations keep going, will take place in Croatia and will be hosted by two of the representative organizations of Balkans, Zagreb Pride and Queer Zagreb. In the following meetings, the issue of regional partners and companions will also gain importance. Inter and intra-regional meetings will be closely followed for the sake of increasing the depth and scope of the network.

For a world in which LGBT individuals and heterosexuals can liberate altogether

Kaos GL, which is coordinating the meeting, have been organizing anti-discrimination events in social, cultural and academic platforms in order to enhance the human rights of LGBT individuals. It wants the ideas about a world in which LGBT individuals and heterosexuals will become free altogether to be shared. It also works in solidarity with LGBT individuals in other cities for them to form individual organizations. It works to make the human rights of LGBT individuals visible. For this very reason, it works in collaboration with many national and international institutions and organizations from women’s organizations to human rights organizations. As a result of all these joint efforts and networks established in the struggle against discrimination, International Meeting Against Homophobia is spreading to other cities in Turkey.

Thus, it was understood in the “Regional Network” meeting that the afore mentioned methodology is valid for regional cooperation and it is also politically functional.

Ali Erol


For its Turkish version:

Translation: Sumru Atuk