Turkish Family Affairs Minister Aliye Selma Kavaf: Homosexuality a Disease, Gays Should Be Treated


A Turkish gay rights group is protesting remark's by the country's Family Affairs Minister, Aliye Selma Kavaf, that homosexuality is a biological disorder that should be treated, Deutsche Welle reports:

"The complaint, by the LAMBDA Association, charges that Kavaf's remarks in a newspaper interview were 'an insult, incitement to crime and incitement to enmity and hate' – crimes which, in Turkey, are punishable by up to five years in jail. Kavaf had said that she believed homosexuality was a 'biological disorder, a disease.'

'I think it should be treated,' she was quoted as saying.

Kavaf 'should apologize to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals in this country for her discriminatory statements that turn homosexuals into a target,' said Ruzgar Gokce, a LAMBDA member, outside the Istanbul courthouse where the group filed its complaint.

'The only person who is sick, is the minister,' chanted dozens of gays and lesbians in front of the courthouse.

Firat Soyle, a lawyer for LAMBDA, said the complaint was only symbolic since the minister enjoyed parliamentary immunity and would not face prosecution."

Kavaf has thus far refused to apologize, but her remarks have been denounced by parties, unions, and NGOs, DW reports.

Also: "The controversy will raise eyebrows in Brussels, where observers say there are growing questions about the sincerity of the Islamic government's commitment to implementing European Union membership requirements."


  1. nikko says

    A turkey from Turkey. Forget islam being reasonable and joininf the EU. They’re barbaric in their beliefas and are a real threat to freedom wherever they go.

  2. Rovex says

    In my view the EU is ‘doing a Toyota’. In its ambition to grow its leaving behind its quality control. There are some Eastern European countries which just should not be members because they simply aren’t ready socially yet.

  3. Rob says

    This will be a test. If the government officials step in and denounce her statements, it will be a good sign. If not, then the EU needs to put the brakes on their membership.

  4. Bob says

    As a European citizen from Belgium I say NO to Turkey joining the Union. We don’t want this kind of backward people in the EU. In the highly unlikely case the government dismisses this sick individual and apologizes for her disgusting statements, they might still have a chance.

  5. Noah says

    While obviously this woman’s statements are horrible, it should be noted that worse things have been said by elected officials here in the States. Turkey is hardly an “Islamist hell hole” any more than the US is a “Christian fundamentalist hell hole.” Though, maybe that’s your point?

  6. John says

    If the Europeans are really that desperate to admit a Muslim country, I would think Albania and Bosnia might have more in common with them than Turkey.

    Though it seems the impetus for expanding the EU is mostly – if not entirely – economic at this point.

    The western countries need cheap labor to compete with new superpowers like China and India. And that means going into Morocco, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and other places whose cultural connections to them are marginal at best.

  7. alfredo zapata says

    I’ll pass on the “Gay Cure” honey but a good plastic surgeon and therapist can cure your ugliness on the outside and on the inside!

  8. GregV says

    I agree that Turkey as well as many Eastern-European countries should be considered for admission to the EU only AFTER proving a commitment to human rights and equality, not upon making promises that someday they’ll get there.
    On a side note, I think the LAMBDA association weakens its argument by asking her to apologize to transvestites. Unless she said something else about THEM, they are irrelevant to the conversation.

  9. Hunter says

    Well, I have to chime in here, because I feel strongly about this story…as I lived and traveled extensively in Turkey and I’m one of relatively small number of foreigners who speak the language.
    First of all, the minster’s comments are a product of conservatism and narrow-mindedness, not Islamist fervor. Take a look a her picture – notice she is not wearing a veil (hijab) or a burqa. That’s because Turkish civil servants cannot wear any religious dress. The country is quite secular. She would not look out of place in Germany or France. Turkey’s government has a very strict separation of state & religion, taken from the French (laicist) model. For those of you who think Turkey is less civilized that other countries, – you’re wrong, as the cities and towns there are much safer than the US, for example – crime is a fraction of what exists here. It is true that the ruling Justice & Development Party is more religious (and conservative) than previous governments, but they are by no means a fanatical Islamist organzation. That being said, sexism and homophobia in Turkey run deep, at least outside Istanbul.
    A lot of you commenting seemed to miss the fact that Turkey has an open legal gay rights movement, unlike the vast majority of other Muslim countries. The best advice is to visit Turkey for yourself – go and keep going back, if you like it. Learn Turkish. Only then will you understand Turkey.

  10. Paul R says

    Hunter is absolutely correct. Istanbul is my favorite foreign city in the world, and I’ve been nearly everywhere. A jackass comment can be made by any government official.

    Aside from that, estimates from many sources (not just gay by any stretch) state that 85-90 percent of Turkish men have had homo experiences. So stop judging a country you know nothing about, especially a secular country. I was there a few years ago and was told repeatedly that the people liked Americans but could not stand Bush/Cheney. Sound familiar?

  11. TANK says

    Let’s clear this up.


    “Gay sexual conduct between consenting adults in private is not a crime in Turkey. The age of consent for both heterosexual and homosexual sex is 18. The criminal code also has vaguely worded prohibitions on “public exhibitionism,” and “offenses against public morality” that are used to harass gay and transgender people. Turkish towns and cities are given some leeway to enact various “public morality” laws. For example, it was once reported that in Adana males were prohibited from kissing in public, on the cheek. However, there has been no evidence of enforcement of this regulation. Men kissing as a form of greeting is common in Turkey.”

    Yes, Turkey has a lot further to go in respecting its lgbt citizens than the u.s. does.

  12. John says

    @Hunter and Paul R

    I haven’t been to Istanbul, but I do travel enough to know that you are speaking honestly about your experiences. And while I accept and respect your opinions, I would also point out that, unfortunately, safety isn’t just a statistic. It is also a state of mind.

    If we are talking about those who are fearful of Islam, then being surrounded by millions of Muslims is “unsafe” regardless. I doubt there’s anything I can say to convince Tank that walking around Cairo is completely safe. I happen to believe that the vast majority of visitors to Egypt will have a good time, make a lot of new friends, and encounter no acts of violence – religious or otherwise – whatsoever. However, any personal assurances I make will be received as disingenuous. Folks will decide for themselves whether they are comfortable or not. And I don’t think anyone can make that decision for somebody else.

    I have heard a great deal about how “safe” certain cities are. Only to arrive and find myself very wary of the place. With locals staring me down because I am the only non-white there and so forth. Conversely, I have been to so-called high crime cities – Cape Town for instance – and felt perfectly fine.

  13. TANK says

    “I doubt there’s anything I can say to convince Tank that walking around Cairo is completely safe.”

    Because statistically, that’s not true. Cairo’s a big city, and american tourists have been known to disappear without a trace.

    Now you can believe what you’d like about the earth being flat, and islam being a religion of peace and tolerance of lgbt people…just as I’m free to label you a flat earther, which you are…reality is but a distraction to people such as yourself. Istanbul isn’t all of turkey, either.

  14. John says


    You are consistent.

    I’ll give you that.

    But you are one who brings up the “Islam as a religion of peace” canard and then proceed to tear down an argument nobody else has made. No one said it was a religion of peace. Now, I have said going to war against one billion Muslims is not a viable foreign policy initiative. I don’t know how exactly that can be construed as an endorsement of Islamic theological constructs. But you can continue to have a debate with yourself if you wish.

  15. TANK says

    “But you are one who brings up the “Islam as a religion of peace” canard and then proceed to tear down an argument nobody else has made”

    So apparently when you typed this in response,

    “If we are talking about those who are fearful of Islam, then being surrounded by millions of Muslims is “unsafe” regardless.”

    You didn’t mean to imply that Islam and islamic people aren’t gay tolerant…and that anyone who would suggest otherwise is simply a fear mongering bigot… So no, you agree, huh? Riiight. Be careful, or you’ll fall right off that flat earth you inhabit.

    “Now, I have said going to war against one billion Muslims is not a viable foreign policy initiative.”

    Riiight. And I have explicitly said that we should go to war against one billion muslims. Not only have I explicitly said that on innumerable occasions, I said that’s “a viable foreign policy initiative”. Now do me the service of indicating just ONE time that I have said either of the two…now I suppose you could say that you weren’t trying to imply that I had suggested that…leaving yourself saying what, exactly? Nothing?

  16. John says

    I don’t have a herald who announces my homosexuality wherever I go. When I am in a foreign country and somebody makes an anti-gay remark, I tell what I think. More often than not they will change the subject themselves when there’s clear disagreement.

    In any case, the Egyptian people are extremely friendly. When you ask about a hotel or restaurant, they won’t give you directions. They will drop whatever it is they are doing and take you there themselves. Hospitality is serious business in that country. And I don’t know about the Turks. But based on what others here have said, I suspect they’re operating under a similar system when it comes to guests. Building upon these interpersonal relationships is absolutely vital when you want to talk about the difficult issues. You’d get a lot further than when you start with this:

    “Islam (and sunni islam of which most moroccans are) is one of the most toxic religions in the world today, and there is no despicable and degenerate act it will not inflict to maintain its stranglehold on the regions in which it flourishes at any cost. Truly a religion of war.”

    Or this:

    “Iraq is lost to tryannical religious insanity. It’s going to get much worse. They’re going to be quite the security risk when paired with Iran and Saudi Arabia. We should thank our lucky stars we have Israel on our side.”

    Or this:

    “Islam is one of the most barbaric and primitive religions on earth today, and one of the biggest threats to global political stability.”

    Or this:

    “It really doesn’t matter how many concessions the irsaeli government makes (pulling out of the west bank and gaza and also moving out of contentious settlement zones) because there is no such thing as compromise with hamas; it’s all or nothing, and they’ll get nothing and then some because I’ve got news for you, JACKASS, ISRAEL IS GOING NOWHERE!”

    “And let’s be honest, it’s [bombing Gaza] no more indiscriminate than blowing yourself up on a bus.”

    There’s another way.

    Ross Mirkarimi is a Persian Jew who’s a member of the San Francisco city council. He is highly respected in both the Muslim – he helped them get approval to build a mosque in his district – and LGBT communities. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis is a devout Muslim. And he has been a staunch defender of LGBT rights. These folks have leverage with Muslims because they took the time to develop a foundation for good relations. I’d take that approach over yours any day.

    What security have you actually achieved with all this hate?

  17. Paul R says

    I returned from Egypt two days ago. How the hell did it get dragged into this discussion? Every single Egyptian I met was polite and kind (almost to a fault), but it’s still a FAR more Islamic country than Turkey. Turkey is secular—it’s written into the constitution. If you don’t know what secular means, please look it up. There are even rumors that the country’s modern founder, Ataturk, had a penchant for attractive men.

    This anti-foreign sentiment is one of the many valid reasons many countries resent the US. Get a passport and some common sense before you make uninformed comments. Thanks.

  18. Paul R says

    @Hakan, thank you for the point. I realize that very well. But despite my adoration of Turkey, I won’t lie. Ataturk was a fantastic force for the country, but he wasn’t a god. No one is.

  19. TANK says

    “When I am in a foreign country and somebody makes an anti-gay remark, I tell what I think.”

    No you won’t. YOu’ll remain closeted in many countries in which the locals make homophobic remarks. Dollars to donuts.

    As to the rest, there wasn’t argument presented other than the implication that you don’t believe that radical islam is a threat to global political stability. Period. NO amount of your cherry picked anecdotes from your travels as an american tourist to countries in which you probably didn’t speak the language…matter to the fact that islam is by the books a very gay intolerant faith, and that muslim theocracies and countries with the majority population muslim are not good places for lgbt people to live. I really don’t care about your narrative, john, because it doesn’t correspond to fact.

    As to turkey being a secular country, the majority of its citizens are muslims, and lgbt citizens are harassed, legally, due to that conservative muslim tradition throughout turkey. An american tourist who spends three days in a country is not qualified to give credible rundown of that country’s treatment of its minority populations. Now that’s hubris…that’s ugly americanism. Instead, why don’t you ask a gay turkish person about how progressive turkey is on gay issues…or not…compared to iran (definitely, it is), but compared to other european nations…no.

  20. TANK says

    the noble savage myth has become the noble culture myth…or noble religion. We can’t even get a consensus on who our enemies are, which is an argument that many gays of a certain persuasion (e.g., reality denialist flat earthers like paul r. and john) need to be ignored. Yes, they’re loud hippie liberal douches, but that doesn’t mean we can’t completely cut them out of serious conversation. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil…soft headed postmodernist multicultural relativistic gibberish. Ask an armenian what their opinion of turkey is.

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