A picture in front of an LGBTI flag

A picture in front of an LGBTI flag

I was in Washington in early June. I had my picture taken standing in front of a rainbow flag. It shows the development of a movement that started back in the 1970’s the United States.

If you see this flag in front of a house door, you should know that a LGBTI individual lives in that house.
In the following years, this movement spread.
These colors have become the flag of LGBTI movement.
LGBTI is a concept that is made up of the capital letters of “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.”
Since the beginnings of the 1990s, it has been used to depict the struggle for gay rights. In a sense, it is the symbol of the third sex.

When I saw that flag in front of a bar in Washington, I told Hürriyet’s Washington bureau chief to order a glass of wine inside.
There were no women inside except the ones working at the bar.
We went to the bar and got our white wines. No one minded.
We did not mind anybody.
We chatted a bit then went out.
And then I had the picture taken.

The reason why I recall this picture is this...
Last Saturday while strolling around late President Süleyman Demirel’s library in İslamköy, the village he was born, I saw 30 volumes of the Islam Encyclopedia, which began its publication in 1940. 
The Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) added articles after 1960. To my knowledge, it was 44-volume work; Demirel had 30 volumes.

These volumes dated from 1995.
I looked at the experts who prepared it.
I saw the name of Hayrettin Karaman on the list.
It was prepared during Demirel’s presidency. That means Tansu Çiller was prime minister.

While looking at the list; I recall some of the statements by Hayrettin Karaman.
What did he say?
 “Stealing is one thing, corruption is another.”
Most probably Islamic history has never seen a similar fetva [a mufti’s opinion about an Islamic law].
Yet he uttered a much worse one the other week:
 “A sizeable majority of our people considers being gay immoral.”
If it was that simple, I would have not minded that much but asked:
 “How does the sizeable majority of Muslims consider corruption? Something moral?

Yet there was something worse in his speech.
 “Gays cannot come out of the closet and join honorable people. Their guilt will be met with disgust, as an embarrassing act.”
This is not a sentence that belongs to the 21st century.
It does not belong to our region nor to the Ottoman’s past centuries.
It is really worth thinking about a religious scholar who does not see corruption as a disgusting act, who defines a sexual characteristic of a human with such hate speech and uses religion for that.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and some from the Justice and Development Party used expressions that could fall within homophobia.
They slammed the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) nomination of a gay candidate with expressions of ridicule and hate.

I am not gay.
The reason why I say this is not because I fear something.
Had I been gay, I would not have hidden it.
The reason why I say so is to underline that this article has not been written about a situation that concerns me. 
If Islamic references have come in the 15th year of the 21st century in order to take out corruption from the crime category and add homosexuality to the crime category… then we have a long way to go...

Because we believe that in the 21st century, the constitutional understanding is based on a mentality that draws the jurisdictional limits of the majority and protects the rights of minorities in all areas. Yet some of the religious scholars go in the other direction.
We all need to know that had he continued to walk on the line he endorsed until 2007, Erdoğan would have become one the world’s most influential four leaders. Yet it is this understanding that led him to his current defeat.