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Turkish Gay activists want anti-Gay official prosecuted
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Turkish Gay activists want anti-Gay official prosecuted

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Turkish Gay rights group Lambda demanded that a cabinet minister be put on trial for her anti-Gay remarks.

Family Affairs Minister Selam Aliye Kavaf told Hurriyet newspaper last weekend that homosexuality is a 'biological disorder, a disease.'

'I think it should be treated,' she added.

Lambda filed a formal complaint against Kavaf in Istanbul on March 16.

Lambda's complaint charges that Kavaf's remarks are "an insult, incitement to crime and incitement to enmity and hate" - crimes which, in Turkey, are punishable by up to five years in jail.

As the charges were being filed, some 60 activists demanded that Kavaf resign in a demonstration about 200 yards from the courthouse

"The only person who is sick is the minister," the demonstrators chanted.

"We are homosexuals, homophobia is a disease," others responded. "Love, freedom, no room for hate."

Kavaf "should apologize to Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, transvestites and Transsexuals in this country for her discriminatory statements that turn homosexuals into a target," Lambda member Ruzgar Gokce told reporters outside the courthouse.

So far Kavaf has refused to apologize.

Lambda's attorney, Firat Soyle, told AFP news service that filing the complaint was a symbolic protest since the minister has parliamentary immunity and cannot be prosecuted.

One of the organizers of the demonstration, Aykan Safaoglu, told Deutsche Welle newspaper that, while he was angry at Kavaf, some good had come out of the controversy.

"I got really angry, but afterwards I was quite happy. Many NGOs, parties and unions made supportive statements, so it was a very good sign. Many people just don't think homosexuals are sick," Safaoglu said.

Kavaf's remarks were generally criticized by the media and disavowed by several leaders of the ruling Justice and Development (A.K.) Party, including Health Minister Recep Akdag.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to comment on the controversy, however. His AK party is Islamist-based and many of its supporters share Kavaf's views.

Kavaf's remarks may complicate Turkey's entry into the European Union. E.U. members are required to subscribe to the European Convention on Human Rights which protects LGBT people and other minorities.

Same-sex relationships have never been illegal in Turkey, but there also are no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination or violence.

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