Gay Kurds find their voice

I have a new story out on Eurasianet about ‘Hevjin’ – a magazine started by a group of gay Kurdish activists in Diyarbakir.

It’s creation in this socially and religiously conservative city in southeast Turkey has surprised many people. The founders of the magazine said how they often felt doubly stigmatized- as both gays within the Kurdish community, but also as Kurds within Turkey’s gay community.

From the piece:

… when Solin’s and Koya’s group first announced itself on Turkey’s gay activism scene, its Kurdish orientation became a source of difficulty. “Many organizations in the West of Turkey resisted us at first because we identified ourselves as Kurds,” said Koya. “Even within this community we’re a minority.”

Many Turks holding liberal personal views these days can be staunchly conservative in their approach to politics – something that Oztop [Nevin Oztop, editor of Turkey’s Kaos LG gay magazine] contends is a legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state, who blended liberal and secular social ideas with a decidedly authoritarian and nationalist approach to statecraft. “In the gay movement in this country, there are ‘Kemalist’ people who are not tolerant of minority ethnic identities,” said Oztop. “They say the only politics we can do is for the rights of gay people – but they don’t see the country as a whole.”

“I don’t want to create a hierarchy in discrimination, but I would say that they [the Kurdish LGBT activists] are doubly discriminated against,” Oztop added.

You can read the whole article here.

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