In response to the “Great Family Gathering against LGBTI+” in Turkey

In response to the “Great Family Gathering against LGBTI+” planned to take place in Istanbul on 18 September 2022, Sunday 

As mothers and fathers of LGBTI+, who are we, and where do we stand vis-a-vis this gathering? 

We are mothers and fathers who do not push their children away. Instead, we are parents who embrace, include, try to understand, and most importantly love their children unconditionally. We are FAMILIES. Some of our children are homosexual, bisexual, trans, intersex… Some others have sexual orientations and/or identities that do not fit into a definition we know, and we learn more about it every day. Our children are very colourful, remarkably diverse, and very enthusiastic just like humanity just like any child in the eyes of their parent. 

You hear an acronym called LGBTI, which is marginalized, turned into a subject of hatred, and terrorized for the personal agendas and political interests of some people. These people even invite us to rally against our own children.  

Rather, we call them OUR CHILDREN who may be gay, bisexual, trans, and or intersex +! Because they are our children, and they are also your friends, your neighbours, your cashiers, your doctors, your lawyers, your teachers, your students, your workers, even your members of the deputy. In other words, they are the people with whom we have lived side by side throughout centuries; they are the ones we called “Kiz Mehmet”, “Erkek Fatma”1, our friends, our compatriots, people with whom we have been sharing our culture, our history since before the invention of television or internet. Our children! 

Homosexuals are not born to homosexuals, neither are trans children born to trans parents! We, the parents among you, are their parents, we are their relatives! If not today, some day you might also join our rank. Nowadays, some people keep using only the acronym “LGBTI” and cover up the fact that it stands for actual lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex people while deliberately trying to dehumanise them and distort our understanding. They try to alienate us from our own children, friends, acquaintances. They mock our intelligence and tell us that these people are a threat to our society and family structure as if there are no other problems we need to address. 

In fact, we gave birth to them, they are our children. If they wish they may, or may not, form their own families. Regardless, under these circumstances and being among the most discriminated minority, we find it hard to understand how they are a threat to the family structure of our society. In fact, let alone the right to form their own families, if we, as our society, do not guarantee our children even their basic rights to get an education free from bullying, access to non-discriminatory health services, opportunities for inclusive decent jobs, how can they grow up to become productive members of our society? 

So, they want to rally? Let them rally. Please do not prohibit. 

As long as it does not constitute a hate speech, we need to voice and listen to a wealth of ideas, not prohibit free speech, or impose bans on ideas. This is how a democratic culture is established. But did you know that Turkish Hate Crimes Legislation does not prohibit hatred, and blasphemy against our gay, bisexual, trans and intersex children? 

Let them rally, let them rally so that we can see who they are. Let us remember who they are. Let us engrave it in our social and historical memory. We should know who stands where. However, when we also want to rally, make room for us to exercise our democratic rights for peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression. Do not prohibit it! We have not been able to walk with our gay, bisexual, trans and intersex children since the Istanbul Pride March in 2014, we have not even been able to make a press statement since then. However, let us also remember that when we could do the Pride March those who had a different view could also come and peacefully demonstrate their opinion and not only the police protected them, but the Pride Week Organisation Committee also ensured their safety and right to freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration. Those who are organising this Great Family Gathering are aware of this fact, so let us remind you of this bit of history. 

What do we want answers for: 

  • When you say that you are protecting the family, what kind of family are you protecting? Whom do you expect to rally against whom? 
  • If we love our children unconditionally and give them self-confidence and family support, if we do our best to have them complete their education and grow up as healthy and productive members of the society, what category of family do you see us as? Could it be that our respective definitions of family are vastly different? How do you define a Turkish family? A family that, upon coming out of their child, kick them out of the house, or take them to “so called” doctors who try to fix them with methods that have no scientific basis or even worst a family that does other things to their child that we cannot even bring ourselves to name?  
  • If we were to attend the Great Family Gathering to voice our views as parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex +, would you guarantee our right to free speech? Would the police also guarantee our right to peaceful demonstration? 
  • If, as political will, you allow this anti LGBTI+ Rally to be organised and even advertised through government channels, will you also ensure peaceful demonstrations and rallies of LGBTI+, women, doctors, teachers, etc. who simply want to exercise their democratic rights? 
  • When will you accept that the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans, intersex citizens whose taxes you receive also have parents and families who love them? When will you accept that your child could also come out as LGBTI+ some day? What would you do then? 
  • Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans, intersex, people with different sexual orientations and gender identities and orientation have always existed, will always exist! We just gave them different names throughout history, but we always forgot that they are our children, our siblings, our families, acquaintances, the ones we choose not to greet but we have lived with them for centuries. They want to be equal; they want equality. They do not want more than anyone else, but they can no longer stand to get anything less. No one can stand it. 

We cannot stand it anymore… 

Regardless, let them hold the “Great Family Gathering” and rally so that we can see who these people are. Those people whose love is conditional, those people who humiliate and exclude families who have accepted and love their children unconditionally. Let us know who they are and remember them in the future. Let us wish that their hearts open to true love and acceptance of their children. 

Meanwhile, let us remember the words of Melek, whose 28-year-old trans daughter was brutally murdered as a result of a transphobic hate crime at her home in Bursa in 2010:  

“My child was always excluded from society because of her gender identity. She wanted to study so much but they did not allow her. They could not even give a small space for my child in this vast world.”  

We will be re-watching our 2013 “My Child” Documentary where seven parents amongst us talk about their lesbian, gay and trans children and how they came to accept them. We invite you to watch it with us and share with others so they can understand our struggle, our love, so there can be at least some space for ALL our children in this vast world. 

You can watch the Documentary on YouTube: 

13 September 2022 

Organisations of parents and families of LGBTI+s in Turkey that signed the statement:

Akdeniz Antalya Aile Grubu

Denizli LGBTİ+ Aileleri Grubu

GALADER- Ankara Aileleri Derneği

İzmir LGBTİ+ Aileleri Grubu

LİSTAG- LGBTİ+ Aileleri ve Yakınları Derneği