27/02/2010 | Writer: KAOS GL

February 26, 2010
Hurriyet Daily News, Kristen Stevens

To suit the Turkish government's intolerance for gay people, the Council of Europe has changed its declaration of children's rights to allow state discrimination that puts lives at risk. The threats the council was trying to eliminate just grew bigger.

The text in question from the Council of Europe's declaration of children's rights said: "Currently, the family [is a concept] composed of different lifestyles, and children in Europe grow up in family forms that can change during the life of children."

No, no, Turkey says, not gays; if you're saying that gays are part of families with children, we have to ask you to change Europe's version of children's rights… Alas, that's what happened this week.

The declaration now includes the phrase: "These family forms change from one country to another." Do they? The whole point of the declaration was to support kids whose parents might be shunned by certain countries and societies.

Pulling an alarm bell in Europe to underline that Turkey excludes gay people from families is not even a political move. It is moral activism and indecent diplomacy that is dangerous for gay people, their children and society.

Public statements matter

This unnecessary protest is not only discriminatory but also exacerbates a current climate of violence against people with sexual orientations outside the mainstream. Homophobia has led to murder in a number of cases in Turkey. Last Tuesday in Istanbul someone broke into a transgender woman's apartment, killing her by slitting her throat and stabbing her 17 times. At least eight transgender people have been killed in Istanbul and Ankara since November 2008.

Covering the Gay Pride Parade for the Associated Press in Jerusalem a few years ago, I watched an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stab a father and a young woman. The Ultra-Orthodox mayor had spoken against the "immorality" of the parade, no doubt galvanizing this man and others to attack marchers throughout the day.

Turkey issued a statement this week, saying: "We do not accept gay marriages and we also do not accept the institution of homosexual family parenting." Selma Aliye Kavaf, the minister responsible for families and women, said she informed the Council of Europe about Turkey's "sensitivity on the different forms of families" and that they made the "necessary changes." Was there anything necessary about this?

Shame on the council. Kids can't reject or exchange gay parents for straight ones; they only suffer when separated from them. Children in Turkey without parents can only hope that they will be taken in by loving parents, gay or straight. By law, the state can remove them from the parents or deny them inheritance.

The Turkish Council of State has ruled that homosexuals should not have custody of children, but it is not a must under the law. It is precisely children in this gray area that the Council of Europe aimed to protect. Instead they have failed them.

Furthermore, at Turkey's urging, the Council of Europe has undermined its very existence by adding: "The relevant articles will be evaluated under the framework of national regulations." Why on Earth did they meet if not to put forward common practices that support kids from all types of families?

Turkey just slammed the door on families and children, and in the process, left it open to unenlightened interpretation and politicization in other countries.

Original Link of this News Article: Government says no gays in our families
Tags: human rights