30/04/2020 | Writer: Fariman Kashani

“Phobia is not something automatically constructed but is a result of defective and unlettered mind. The most important factor to generating phobia is ignorance and ineptitude, the more we increase our information about the problems definitely the less we feel a phobia in ourselves. Let us fight the ignorance.”

Let us fight the ignorance Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+
Fariman Kashani | Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+ Rainbow Forum Opinion Columnist Fariman Kashani

I’m Fariman. I live in Turkey and deal with social activities in the field of refugees and LGBTI[1]’s rights. Around two years ago I started to work voluntarily with UNHCR and as a delegate of young asylum seeker I tried to provide the right to education with all young asylum seekers.

In Iran, I was in my last year of Civil Engineering when I was fired from the school due to my different sexual orientation. The most significant aim in my life has always been learning and training and in Iran; they deprived me of it due to being an LGBTI, but I did not let my being an LGBTI deprive me of my right to education.

I think LGBTI people are always isolated in school due to their being different. There is no one to remind them that you are normal and you should not be ashamed of falling in love with your homosexual classmate. That is why school usually is not a favored place to be in for LGBTIs. There is a basic right for every child to enjoy a free and healthy environment for education but unfortunately this right has been violated.

In Turkey, I started to find some ways to study and in different meetings I informed my friends of it. After those meetings, some of my friends found ways to study and many of them could study by distance learning. I myself got a scholarship for programming from Google and now I am studying and working online. In online classes and chat forums not only nobody cares about my sexual orientation and gender but also, they know me by my skills and diligences.

Many of asylum seekers have not been able to bring their educational documents with themselves to Turkey due to leaving country mandatorily and hurriedly. Fortunately, The Turkish Ministry of Education accepts these asylum seekers to get their diploma provided that they can pass some exams but unfortunately those who do not have their bachelor, master and PHD diplomas with themselves cannot find their equivalent degrees in Turkey.

The criteria in labor market day in and day out tends more and more to the skills and knowledge but unfortunately many of business opportunities still require university degrees.

Unlike what people think, I suggest that the number of educated people in our society is vast. For me, being educated does not mean just being in school and having university degrees. Every day I try to learn new things by talking with people, reading books and surfing the Net. But never have I believed a saying or a text without reason and evidence.

Homophobia has two parts; homosexual and phobia. Phobia is about homosexuals, and treating them with prejudice and being indifferent about gaining a scientific and true knowledge of homosexuality and also insisting on inherited prejudices! Phobia is not something automatically constructed but is a result of defective and unlettered mind. The most important factor to generating phobia is ignorance and ineptitude, the more we increase our information about the problems definitely the less we feel a phobia in ourselves. Let us fight the ignorance. It is difficult but possible:

One of the refugees’ problems in Turkey, or let us say their biggest one, is that they do not have work permit. Many of refugees work hard in intolerable conditions and they are also illegal. Among them, LGBTI refugees due to their different appearance have less opportunities to find these jobs.[2]

Working hours are long and wages are at minimum level. So, arranging time and the cost for education is hard to get. Organizations such as ASAM and UNHCR have allocated some funds for education by which refugees can enjoy them after being registered in the universities.

Do not be afraid:

Entering Turkish universities is not as difficult as refugees think. I always suggest my friends that it is better to Google the name of universities and get some information about registration by their websites, going to the universities and talking with students and lecturers. Do not be afraid of your low points and GPA and take some exams such as YÖS and SAT to have a better chance of being selected.

A university that is not a university is not a university![3]

kiron.ngo provides the refugees with free online education. My suggestion to those refugees who want to study or are currently studying is to take a look at this website. This website helps you to first learn the required language for education and secondly pass the prerequisites, so if you have forgotten some subjects or you want to learn them from basic levels there is no need to be worried about it since this website has done it before: from finding a classmate and providing educational consultation to finding a proper university to continue education abroad.

I hope a day comes in which education and information would be accessible for all people.

*This article was first published in "Rainbow Knows No Borders", the special issue of Kaos GL Magazine prepared with the contributions of LGBTI+ refugees living in Turkey.

**The articles at KaosGL.org Gökkuşağı Forumu (Rainbow Forum) are under the responsibility of their authors. The fact that the articles are published at KaosGL.org does not mean that the opinions at the articles reflect the opinions of KaosGL.org. 

[1]Editor’s note:  In original Farsi text, the writer uses the word “DEGERBASHAN” which is mostly used as an umbrella term for LGBTI+s in Farsi language.

[2] For detailed information about work permit see “FAQs about Legal Rights”.

[3] This sentence is a reference to a political statement that Ruhollah Khomeini said about universities in Iran.

Tags: human rights, education