In Turkey, when parents discover that their child is gay, violence and even murder can result. But one Istanbul-based organization is fighting to reverse that trend by appealing to the parents themselves.
Even though homosexuality is legal in Turkey, it remains a taboo subject for many families in this predominantly Muslim, conservative society. Meanwhile, the government is contemptuous of the topic of gay rights. Two years ago, for example, then Minister for Family Affairs Aliye Kavaf declared in a newspaper interview that homosexuality is “a biological disorder, a disease."
For retired Sule Ceylan, who is now an artist, the realization that her grown son was gay initially hit her in a similar way. "It was really bad,” remembered Ceylan. “I wanted him to live a false life. I was thinking this can't go on like this.”
Prompted by her son, Ceylan turned to Listag, an Istanbul-based parents’ group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals. The five-year-old organization uses weekly meetings to provide community support for parents seeking to cope with their children’s sexual orientation. About a dozen parents turn up per meeting.
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.