23/02/2024 | Writer: Kaos GL

The workshop, which was organized by the Ankara Rainbow Families Association, brought together family organizations and families of LGBTI+s.

Workshop for LGBTI+ families: “We should overcome the imposed family format, as well as the imposed heterosexuality “ Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

On 17-18 February, LGBTI+ family organizations and LGBTI+ families gathered in Ankara for a workshop organized by Ankara Rainbow Families Association (GALADER). The workshop, which was organized to provide a response to hate policies that increase violence against LGBTI+ people every day, addressed LGBTI+ families in five separate sessions. The speakers at the sessions were Aylime Aslı Demir, Remzi Altunpolat, Özlem Cankurtaran, Seçin Tuncel, Defne Güzel, Yıldız Tar and Murat Köylü.

“We are the inheritors of LGBTI+ struggle that originated in the 1800s”

Aylime Aslı Demir of Kaos GL Association, set the tone for the two-day program by explaining the past and present of the LGBTI+ movement in the world and in Turkey. Stressing that it is not only the struggle of LGBTI+ people to be human, but also the centuries-old struggle of slaves and women to be equal citizens, Demir stated that the struggle of LGBTI+ people continues and that they are the inheritors of this struggle that originated in the 1800s.

In her speech, Demir talked about the gay liberation movement of the 1960s, the AIDS epidemic, the LGBTI+ movement that emerged in Turkey in the 1980s, and the first May Day demonstration where LGBTI+ existed in an organized way.

Drawing attention to the politicization of sexuality, Demir noted that this brutal mentality continues even when physical methods of torture are not usually seen:

“We don’t witness people being put in cages at night so that they don’t masturbate, people whose clitoris is stigmatized, but the source of these ideas is still there, perhaps in a more refined form.”

“Any glimmer of freedom provokes fascism”

Speaking about the draft constitutional amendment, Remzi Altunpolat said that “the legitimacy of the constitutional amendment should be questioned” and stressed the possibility for LGBTI+ families to create more pressure in this sense. Commenting on the new type of fascism, Altunpolat said the following:

“Perhaps there are no cells in today’s fascism. Don’t they still resort to violence? Fascism is a reaction triggered by the fear of freedom. Any glimmer of freedom provokes fascism. Even if we have not travelled far, the glimmer of freedom of the LGBTI+ movement is enough to trigger fascism. If we look at the reports on digital violence, we can already see how fascism works. What we call capitalism is a whole. It is a whole made up of racism, heterosexism and patriarchy. That is why fascism is activated in every failure. This is not an eternal state, but the main misconception is that fascism is behind us.”

“We need the resilience inherent in everyday life”

Özlem Cankurtaran, who is a social worker adopting a rights-based approach to social work, She criticised philanthropy in human history and the feeling of having to owe this to philanthropy. Cankurtaran argued that attacks on institutions have instilled a conservative approach among social workers, hindering the prioritization of human rights in social services. She stated, “We need the resilience inherent in everyday life. But we also need something more. It requires advocacy and escalation,” emphasizing the potential actions that family organizations can take.

In the workshop, which also addressed a non-discriminatory approach to education, Seçin Tuncel feom Kaos GL, highlighted that the current education system functions as a “heterosexual factory” and continued as follows:

“Textbooks not only reinforce traditional gender roles but also perpetuate stigma against people living with HIV through the sexual health curriculum. Various factors such as course content, curriculum design, teaching methods, and school environment contribute to this issue. Since 2009, our research with educators has highlighted a common experience shared within families regarding disabilities or ethnic backgrounds. However, families often lack the awareness and resources to address these issues effectively. Looking at older life science textbooks, we encounter a portrayal of an idealized nuclear family, predominantly white and urban, confined to traditional gender roles. LGBTI+ families are often misrepresented, depicted solely within a heterosexual framework.”

 “Sometimes our scars make us stronger”

At the workshop, LGBTI+ health was also a topic of discussion. Defne Güzel from Kaos GL addressed the right to health in relation to HIV and HPV. Güzel highlighted that “in Turkey, sexuality is often limited to married couples for reproductive purposes, which not only affects LGBTI+ individuals but also unmarried unions.” She emphasized the importance of making the HPV vaccine free of charge and integrating it into the national vaccination program.

Güzel also conducted an HIV101 workshop with the participants, concluding her remarks by underlining the significance of coming out:

“Your child may reveal that they are living with HIV one day. This is a plausible scenario. I disclosed my HIV status to my family. What matters most is how we react to this revelation. Living with HIV is not a death sentence, nor is it something to be ashamed of. Sometimes our scars make us stronger, shape our character, and lead us to new experiences.”

“We should overcome the imposed family format, as well as the imposed heterosexuality”

In the concluding session of the workshop, Murat Köylü and Yıldız Tar of Kaos GL Association, addressed the issue of hate speech. Köylü highlighted the prevalence of hate speech on digital platforms, stating:

“Sociologically and socio-politically speaking, hate speech legitimizes human rights violations. It can manifest through cartoons, symbols... When a group is systematically targeted with human rights abuses, hate speech must be condemned with the utmost severity. It is crucial to prioritize equality before discussing freedom of expression.”

And finally, Yıldız Tar emphasized the need to challenge the traditional family structure saying: “We should overcome the imposed family format, as well as the imposed heterosexuality.” Underlining the significance of proactive engagement Tar continued as follows:

“We must engage in material production. Failing to do so cedes ground to others, allowing them to wield influence against us using our own methods. Those who dictate the parameters of family and its exclusions have grown increasingly formidable. However, reality demonstrates that the concept of family transcends these limitations. Families of individuals perceived as threats to traditional family norms are actively defending their own families and participating in the broader struggle for LGBTI+ rights.”

Tags: human rights, education, health, hiv