Latest ‘Safe Spaces’ event focuses on Islamic views on LGBT rights

Cameron Gorman

The ‘Safe Spaces’ series–four events dedicated to foster diversity of thought–continued Monday with a presentation entitled “Subjects of Rights and Subjects of Cruelty: Producing an Islamic Backlash Against Homosexuality in Turkey.”

“Being two events in, we feel like we found a model that works in terms of uncovering discourses that can be buried and facilitating a route for students to find their own voices,” said Joshua Stacher, who also provided a response to the main event’s presentation.

The presentation focused on global issues, something often overlooked in discourse around the area of interest.

“What this does is to help embolden the global perspective (on the LGBT community), so that we can come to understand that struggle and solidarity across borders matters,” Stacher said.

The featured speaker was Evren Savci, an assistant professor of Women’s Studies at San Francisco State University. She featured a research presentation on the Islam religion and its connection and often conflicting relationship to the LGBTQ community in Turkey.

Savci opened the event with a research presentation derived from a chapter of her book project, Queer In Translation.

“The backlash is partially due to the historical position Muslim women were meant to occupy in the secular republic,” she said. “I’m interested in not only showing the kinds of limits these discourses can have, but also in underlining the kinds of issues they produce.”

She explained the results of the secularization of Turkey and its reflection on women and the LGBTQ community through several case studies from the novel.

Several distinct viewpoints on homosexual rights were discussed, including the idea of homosexuality as a sin and an illness.

“I propose that instead of insisting an abstract rights based format, queer activists would benefit with solidarity with other minority groups including women with headscarves who have been subject to state violence, police brutality, and other forms of cruelty”, Savci declared after the presentation of multiple arguments.

The polarizing nature of the event was not overlooked by Stacher. “We’re going to keep attacking so-called controversial issues”, he said of the speaker series. “Universities have a responsibility in our spaces to hold these kinds of conversations.”

“We want people to be uncomfortable. We want people to challenge themselves, where they come from, and their history, so that they become more self aware.”, Stacher said. “We use the term safe spaces because that’s what the people who want to make things comfortable use, and we’re trying to subvert it.”

Cameron Gorman is a general assignment reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].