Long way still to go, says LGBT activist
Nisan Su Aras ANKARA
Esmeray wants the government to start an initiative for the LGBT community, just as it did for the Kurdish, Alevi and Roma communities. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZWithout hiding her pride over the progress made so far, Esmeray admits that there is still a long and winding road ahead for true equality to be attained by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Turkey.
Defining LGBT as “the ‘other’ of the ‘others’,” Esmeray, a leading figure of the movement, voiced her disappointment with the policies of the current government. She said the government’s refusal to recognize their problems had made them increasingly vulnerable to violence and hate crimes.
“LGBT is the most hard-working movement in Turkey, and they get the best results. It’s the one that is most loudly and intensely voiced, because it represents the ‘other’ of the ‘others.’ We demand existence. We want to live,” she said in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News.
Esmeray is a transsexual and a self-proclaimed feminist, who is also known for being a prominent activist in women’s and LGBT movements, alongside being a columnist in daily Taraf. For the past seven years she has been staging a play she calls “Cadının Bohçası” (“The Rag Bag of The Witch”), in which she shares snapshots of her life with the audience - including the adversities she met along the way in discovering her “inner women” - and sharp observations on suppressed sexuality in Turkey.
Esmeray expressed her conviction that one day true equality for all, and not just for the LGBT community, will be secured. “The LGBT movement will carry on its fight until the day that all nationalities, all sexual identities, and all groups in Turkey live in equality,” she said, reflecting her dedication to the human rights struggle in its entirety.
“The opposition in Turkey, let’s call it the civil society, is of course doing great things. Maybe currently we are not able to change reality. But the women’s movement, especially the LGBT movement, has managed to claim its rights by applying sanctions, thanks to its struggle within the system. LGBT organizations have not yet received these [rights] on paper, but they have managed to get on the agenda,” Esmeray said.