LGBTI+ Families: ‘LGBTI+ Have Become Scapegoats!’
“LGBTI+ children also have the right to “equality and dignity in life,” Nedime Erdoğan, mother of one and the president of Ankara Rainbow Families Association, says.
Now that the government has declared that it has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention because of of LGBTI+s, their current conditions and the concept of “family” is another topic that has resurfaced for controversy and discussion from the LGBTI+ families’ perspective. Civil Pages conversed with Nedime Erdogan of Ankara Rainbow Families Association. She pointed that LGBTI+ have been turned into scapegoats amidst mounting anger among the masses hit hard by the socio-economic crisis, Erdoğan states that.
Civil Pages: Could you summarize the mission and activities of the LGBTI+ families that constitute the Ankara Rainbow Families Association?
Nedime Erdogan: As individuals whose children or relatives are LGBTI+, we have joined forces mainly to make their lives a bit easier, and to offer them support. We try to raise public awareness around this issue especially among LGBTI+ families, by means of activities that we organize together with different institutions and experts from different fields. We could say that our monthly family meetings in particular are of huge help to families and LGBTI+ individuals, in terms of sharing experiences, guidance, counseling and support. Moreover, we join forces with national and international associations and organizations.
Civil Pages: Do you think there is a difference between the attitude towards LGBTI+ individuals and that towards their parents and relatives? That is, do families also face discrimination? Could you share with us the families’ experience?
Nedime Erdogan: The response to this question would change according to individuals’ closeness to the family, as well as their knowledge, beliefs, culture and personality. As such, tolerant individuals who are close to the family, knowledgeable about the issue and without rigid prejudices and opinions, do not act in a discriminatory manner. However, people in the opposite situation may display discriminatory and exclusionary behavior towards both LGBTI+ individuals directly, and their families.
Civil Pages: What, in your view, are the motives behind the antagonism towards LGBTI+ individuals seen among sectors who object to the Istanbul Convention and do not view LGBTI+ individuals in the light of “human rights”?
Nedime Erdogan: Of course, there are multiple motives. The first ones that spring to mind are fear, ignorance, lack of empathy and social tolerance, and disrespect for equality and justice in terms of rights and laws. Furthermore, there is the effort to divert the attention of the masses, raged at the current socio-economic crisis, and to point to them another culprit. In this context, LGBTI+ individuals have turned into scapegoats.
Civil Pages: At your association, do you get in touch only with the parents and relatives that apply to you? Do you contact any families directly?
Nedime Erdogan: Our association does not have the mission of mediating between children and parents. We mainly contact the families who apply to us and help them accept the situation without experiencing too much stress. However, aside from this, we also offer training programs to various organizations around the question, “What does it mean to be an LGBTI+ parent?”, thus getting in touch with families in a more indirect manner. Let us not forget that LGBTI+ individuals constitute 10% of the overall population.