11/05/2023 | Writer: Yıldız Tar

How do hate speeches that climbed to the summit at the election period, affect LGBTI+s? We talked to psychologist Alp Kemaloğlu from May 17 Association.

“Hate speech against LGBTI+s negatively affects public health” Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

Only a few days left for the elections on May 14. Earlier on the 28th Term Presidential and Parliamentary elections to be held on May 14, election campaigns are full swing.

LGBTI+ hostility is the backbone of the election campaign carried out by the ruling People’s Alliance. From describing the opposition parties as “LGBT supporter” to offer closing down the LGBTI+ associations as an election promise…. As for the main opposition party, it reacts all these by saying “You are the LGBT supporter”.

So how this targeting and hate speech campaigns affect mental health of LGBTI+s? What kind of problems it leads to? What do LGBTI+s feel while being targeted that much?

We asked all these questions to Psychologist Alp Kemaloğlu from May 17 Association. Stating that hate speech bolsters prejudice up against LGBTI+s, Kemaloğlu evaluated the discrimination in election campaigns to KaosGL.org.

“Hate speech bolsters prejudice up”

“The most obvious effect of the hate speech targeting LGBTI+s, is bolstering prejudice up against LGBTI+s. Thus hate speech is an act that disassociates and polarizes the society into groups through prejudices. However it would be assertive to claim that belonging a targeted group automatically causes a problem. Nevertheless, we can discuss the positive and negative reactions against hate speech. On one hand, from the negative perspective, LGBTI+s tend to go through their gender identity as a source of stress, as a problem or as an error rather than something they are proud of, or sense of belonging to. They may experience heavy feelings due to the content of the hate speech, may need to hide their identities due to wide spreading of hate speech, and as a result of these they may become isolated. They may prefer to estrange themselves from social life sue to security concerns and they may feel the necessity to be alert with the worry of being attacked (verbal, physical, indirect, etc.) due to their gender identities in a social group.”

Reminding that hate speech doesn’t always include a possibility to direct people to stand against, to challenge or to gather and be in solidarity with people they belong to same identity, Kemaloğlu says “It is necessary not to underestimate that the widespread hate speech negatively affects mental health of LGBTI+s, especially those who don’t feel themselves comfortable enough with their identity.”

Stress caused by constant conflict

Kemaloğlu underlines that such hate speeches also negatively affect the community health:

“We may consider the negative effects on community health in many ways from people’s pathologic view to LGBTI+ existence and stigmatization created by it, to the stress caused by being pushed into an environment of constant conflict. However, we have to keep in mind that such caricaturized discourses may contribute to see the essence of the matter and to find the truth..”

“Hate speech and discrimination are mentioned at all sessions”

May 17 Association regularly provides psychosocial and legal support for LGBTI+s. We also ask Kemaloğlu how the ever-increasing hate speech during election period affected these support programs. Stating that hate speech as a source of any kind of psychosocial problem and other discriminatory practices are mentioned at all sessions, Kemaloğlu continues as follows:

“Surely, current political agenda in Turkey and hate speech against LGBTI+s is a reality that is frequently mentioned within the scope of the psychological support services provided by May 17 Association. Hate speech and discrimination are mentioned at almost all sessions as a source of any psychosocial problem since we aim to learn people’s needs in social, political and cultural context they live while we are forming an estimate of their mental health. Since this matter has become a chronic stress factor in Turkey, it is common for us to receive counseling applications from people suffering from these discourses and their psychosocial effects.”

“The number of people applying to the association has always increased over the years, however, it is not methodologically possible to link this increase directly to the growing hate speech or discriminatory acts. Nevertheless, we know that LGBTI+s avoid receiving mental health support especially from public institutions and organizations due to the worry of being subjected to discriminatory and phobic treatment and instead, they prefer the safe atmosphere of May 17 Association. I guess it would not be wrong to associate the hesitation to receive support from public institutions and organizations with the ever-increasing anti-LGBTI+ discourse.”

Translation: Selma Koçak 

Tags: human rights, health