Volume 16, Number 27
May 4, 2010

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This Week

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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Homosexuality and homophobia figured prominently in Bilkent News last week. We were horrified to read about the alleged homophobic attack on two male students at Radio Bilkent's Red Alert Party, pleased to read řahin's reminder of the broader context of homophobic violence, and the call for an acceptance of nobody holding hegemony on what is the right way to live. We are also pleased to read that the university administration is committed to creating a safe environment for Bilkenters, and that the violent attack is being investigated.

Given that "homophobia" seems to have become fashionable among some students, and there being a real danger of it translating into violent hate crimes, what else can be done to secure the well-being and safety of non-heterosexual Bilkenters? One thing can be to include explicit reference to "sexual orientation" in the university's non-discrimination statement. Another thing can be to organize events aimed at fostering a culture of tolerance with respect to sexual orientation. The International Day Against Homophobia is coming up on May 17th with a series of events that will be organized across Turkey.(http://www.antihomofobi.org/arsiv/2010en_5th_meeting_programme.htm). Perhaps this can be an occasion also for Bilkent to get involved.

Nilgün Fehim Kennedy (POLS)
Tore Fougner (IR)

Dear Editor,

Last week's Bilkent News featured two letters that discussed the April 16th Red Alert Party. In response to a letter written by one of the homosexual students who was attacked, the newspaper's editorial board wrote that it "decr[ied] this act of violence." The board used the University's non-discrimination policy as support for its statement.

There is, however, a glaring omission in the University's policy: there is absolutely no mention of sexual orientation. If Bilkent does not use explicit language protecting students, faculty, and personnel who are not heterosexual can we be surprised when acts of hate do occur? Disgusted - yes. Surprised - unfortunately not.

We have a chance to start locally but meaningfully by changing this mentality at Bilkent. The University needs to take a concrete step toward eliminating homophobia on this campus and include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in its non-discrimination policies.

A change in wording will not immediately eradicate homophobia from campus, but such a step is vital in creating discourse and meaningful discussion amongst students and faculty. With raised awareness and the backing of the institution, a more tolerant view toward homosexuals and transgender individuals would penetrate campus consciousness.

Joseph Addison
BUSEL Instructor and Bilkent Student

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter in an attempt to remind the Bilkent community that each and every person, regardless of his/her citizenship, living in one of the member States of the Council of Europe, such as Turkey, has to abide by the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR, the competent authority whose judgments bind Turkey, has held in many cases that discriminating persons due to, inter alia, their sexual orientation is an abhorrent violation of human rights.

I felt the need to remind our community of these facts, for I had heard a group of students in my department building saying that Bilkent students engaging in same-sex relationships must be beaten to death, that they defame Bilkent’s name and that the allegedly homosexual students who were allegedly beaten during a party, as stated in the previous issue of the Bilkent News, must earn money by prostituting themselves out (of course I just described their words politely).

Accordingly, I hereby denounce every violation of human rights elucidated by the ECHR, particularly the aforementioned abominations and inform the Bilkent community that I, for one, advocate human rights.

Hazar Yüksel (EE/IV)

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