‘We should resist victim derogation for collective responsibility’

Sunday, May 17, 2015
Melek Goregenli at the Kaos GL’s Anti-Homophobia Meeting: “Nationalism advocates for the inner group no matter what and it prevents collective responsibility. Therefore, fighting nationalism necessarily means fighting crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Prof. Dr. Melek Goregenli started her speech titled “Collective Crimes versus Collective Responsibilities” at the 10th International Anti-Homophobia Meeting by emphasizing that her focus will be on a relatively recent concept called “collective guilt” from a social psychology perspective.
Goregenli explained collective guilt refers to people’s association with big scale crimes committed not directly by themselves but by states or groups they belong to. She said the literature on gender and collective crimes is rather limited and she wants to expand it on the field of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Under what conditions do people feel collective guilt from crimes committed by their states?” Goregenli asked, underlining that it is important to feel collective guilt in order for people to take political actions against crimes.
“You feel guilt because of crimes not directly committed by you; however, you hold yourself responsible and take action. Then comes the political behavior, and finally the political responsibility.”
Preconditions for collective responsibility
Goregenli told that studies on collective crimes are mostly conducted on genocide and war crimes, and explained 4 factors as preconditions for collective crimes that can be applied to crimes against gender and sexual minorities:
1)    The group should define itself as the one that harms the other group. So, heterosexuals should be aware of the fact that there are different sexual orientations, that not everyone is heterosexual.  
2)    Heterosexuals should acknowledge that persons or states committing homophobic or transphobic crimes are “from their own group”.
3)    They should consider persecution or inequality against LGBTI people as illegitimate, immoral and inappropriate.
4)    Many people find it hard to take action when reparation costs a lot.
Why people do not take action?
“These explain why people do not take action even though they know many things,” Goregenli said and elaborated on what people do not to have collective responsibility:
1)    People try to clear their group’s name in an attempt to see themselves not guilty.
2)    People are affected a lot by victim’s identity. If victim could resist derogation, collective responsibility appears more easily.
3)    If the information about collective crimes comes from the inner group, it becomes more effective. Very similar to Kaos GL’s motto “Liberation of homosexuals will also free heterosexuals”, heterosexuals will free by standing up against heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia. This shows how important it is to build up political alliances.
4)    Nationalism advocates for the inner group no matter what and it prevents collective responsibility. Therefore, fighting nationalism necessarily means fighting crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Conservatism always goes hand in hand with collective crimes”
Goregenli told emotions have motivational value to take action and personal stories of injustice have great importance for collective responsibility.
She underlined that conservatism and authoritarianism always go hand in hand with collective crimes and stated:
“It is not some ordinary heterosexuals committing crimes against ordinary gays. There is big heterosexist hegemony.”
The Meeting will continue with Sheila L. Cavanagh’s speech on queer pedagogy, activism, theatre based education and politics.
You can find the program of the 10th International Anti-Homophobia Meeting here.
The 10th International Anti-Homophobia Meeting is supported by the Embassy of Canada, the Embassy of Germany, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the SIDA.  
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