Minister of Women and family Selma Aliye Kavaf
PHOTO from Hurriyet
Minister of Family and Women Selma Aliye Kavaf's recent interview with Hurriyet (in Turkish) will do little to counter homophonia in Turkey. In the intervew, Kavfaf said she believes "homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness. For me, it is something to be cured/treated. Therefore, I do not have a positive stand for the same-sex relationships." In recent months, members of the LBGT community have fallen victim to an increasing number of hate crimes.
UPDATE I (3/17) -- LGBT organization Lambaistanbul has filed a criminal complaint against Kavaf accusing the minister "of insult, incitement to crime and incitement to enmity and hate — crimes that are punishable by up to two, five and three years in jail respectively." Another LGBT organization in Ankara, Pink Life, has also filed a complaint on similar grounds. Kavaf has yet to apologize or offer clarification of her statements.
Food for thought: Self-identified Islamic liberal and Hurriyet Daily News columnist Mustafa Akyol defends the right to criticize homosexual lifestyles in his column last week, though he asserts that Kavaf's position as a minister should have placed her above making such statements. However, in a climate where the number of hate crimes against LGBT people is on the rise, how should such speech -- from a minister or ordinary citizen -- be treated?
UPDATE II (3/19) -- Lambdaistanbul staged a large protest in Taksim yesterday that drew over 100 demonstrators critical of Kavaf. The organization plans to present Kavaf with its "Hormone Tomatoes Homophobia Award," and threw genetically-modified tomatoes at an effigy of the minister. According to Lambdaistanbul, if Kavaf does not apologize for her remarks, it will present her with the award in parliament.