Human Rights Violations in Turkey

On the Dismissal of Police Officer F.E.: “These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”

Source: Burcu Karakaş. “Bu tür memurlar hemen ayıklanır!” (“These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”) Milliyet, 16 June 2014, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/bu-tur-memurlar-hemen-ayiklanir–gundem-1897738/

Police officer F.E. had been dismissed from office with a disciplinary investigation because he is gay. When he went to court to amend the decision, he received the following answer from the Ministry of Internal Affairs: “The law foresees that these kinds of officers are to be immediately cleaned out!”

Police officer F.E. was subjected to disciplinary investigation because he is gay and the investigation resulted in his removal from office. He went to the court to appeal the decision. His suit was rejected by every court that he applied to. Upon his appeal to the Council of State, he received a written response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Deputy Legal Advisor. The statement included scandalous phrases. One Ministry official stated the following: “It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage people’s confidence in the administration. The law aims to prevent these kinds of developments and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and thus eliminated from the instruments of administration.” Even though the Council of State Investigation Judge wrote a dissenting opinion noting the right to “private life,” F.E.’s plea was overruled by majority voting.

“Embarrassing actions”

In 2009, there was a denunciation against Istanbul police officer F.E. with allegations that he kept child pornography. The police raided his house based on the allegations, which turned out to be false. It was decided that there was a lack of grounds for legal action. However, certain documents were found on F.E.’s computer, which pointed to the fact that he is gay. This resulted in a disciplinary investigation on his behalf. The investigation ended with the Ministry of Internal Affairs High Disciplinary Commission ruling for F.E.’s removal from civil service due to the charge of “acting in shameful and embarrassing ways that do not agree with the qualities of civil service.” Upon this decision, the police officer went to the 8th Administrative Court in Istanbul to demand that the decision be reversed. The court maintained that the ruling was within legislation and rejected F.E.’s appeal.

After this rejection, F.E. appealed to the Council of State. The 12th Department of the Council of State studied and rejected F.E.’s appeal eight months ago, thereby approving the decision of his removal from office. At this time, F.E.’s lawyer Fırat Söyle took the appeal back to the 12th Department of the Council of State with a request to revise the decision.

Council of State Investigation Judge Şevket Polat argued that the actions, which resulted in F.E.’s removal from office, were to be considered within the framework of “private life” in accordance with the 20th article of the Constitution as well as the 8th Article of the European Convention on Human Rights. Polat thus put forth that these actions did not constitute a disciplinary breach and advised for an issue of stay order. However, members of the department unanimously rejected the judge’s request with the justification that “the reasoning presented did not constitute due grounds for a stay order.”

“He lives with a woman who is of legal age”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs delivered a statement in response to the appeal about revising the decision. The statement included the justifications for why F.E. had to be removed from office. The Ministry Deputy Legal Advisor Adnan Türkdamar authored the statement, which explains that there were times when F.E. shared the same living quarters with two men who are known to be gay. Also, F.E.’s living together with a woman was described as a “shameful and embarrassing action.”

The Ministry responded with the following in relation to the discrimination appeal: “The law aims for civil service to be carried out by credible, trustworthy and socially prestigious agents. It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage individuals’ confidence in the administration and result in undesirable developments in the relations between individuals and the administration. As such, the law aims to prevent such a development and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and that these kinds of officers are eliminated from the instruments of administration.”

UPR Submission by Turkey’s LGBT Organizations

We are excited to be sharing our Universal Periodical Review submission of “Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey” to the United Nations. 

The Universal Periodical Review

The Universal Periodic Review “has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by October 2011, has reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

The Universal Periodical Review of Turkey

The second-cycle review of Turkey will take place in January-February 2015. While Turkey submits its own State report, Turkey’s civil society organisations is providing their reports on Turkey’s human rights situation. The joint report by the Human Rights Joint Platform highlights Turkey’s failure in applying the accepted recommendations in the first-cycle and human rights violations since 2010. The joint LGBT submission highlights human rights violations of LGBT individuals in Turkey since 2010.

Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey

This report is a joint submission by Kaos GL Association, LGBTI News Turkey, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) (ECOSOC accredited NGO), to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the occasion of the 21st Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. This submission presents human rights violations in Turkey on account of actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. These violations consist of acts of violence against LGBT individuals, discriminatory domestic laws, arbitrary administrative measures, and hostile approach of State officials towards the LGBT community.

In preparing this submission, we relied on documentation and data from the following sources: LGBT organizations and allies in Turkey; reports by national and international human rights NGOs; the European Commission’s Annual Progress Report; Concluding Observations of the UN Human Rights Committee’s review of Turkey’s compliance with the ICCPR; recommendations from Turkey’s first-cycle UPR; Turkey’s Constitution and recent legislation; and media reports of violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals.

Please see the full report here: UPR: Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey

Republican People’s Party Vice-President Sezgin Tanrıkulu’s Statement on Roşin Çiçek and LGBTI Protection

Source: “Genel Başkan Yardımcısı Sezgin Tanrıkulu: “Sayın Başbakan her seferinde “Yaradılanı Yaradandan ötürü seviyoruz” nutukları attığı halde, LGBTİ bireylerin korunması konusunda hiçbir adım atmaması onu bu ayrımcılığın temel aktörlerinden biri haline getirmektedir,” (“Republican People’s Party Vice-president Sezgin Tanrıkulu: “Although Mr. Prime Minister preaches ‘We love the Created for the sake of the Creator’ at every turn, the fact that he never took steps for the protection of LGBTI people made him one of the main partners in this discrimination,”) 10 February 2014, http://www.chp.org.tr/?manset=genel-baskan-yardimcisi-sezgin-tanrikulu-sayin-basbakan-her-seferinde-%E2%80%9Cyaradilani-yaradandan-oturu-seviyoruz%E2%80%9D-nutuklari-attigi-halde-lgbti-bireylerin-korunmasi-konusunda-hicbir-adi

Vice-President Sezgin Tanrıkulu remarked that Roşin Çiçek case, which was heard at the Diyarbakır Third Criminal Court for Aggravated Crimes today, is that of a hate killing. Here is the his written statement:

“LGBTI people who are subjected to systematic discrimination, harassment and attacks are also targets of hate killings. Roşin Çiçek’s case, which will be heard at the Diyarbakır Third Criminal Court for Aggravated Crimes today is a case of hate killing. The fact that Roşin Çiçek, who was in the prime of his life, was killed on 2 July 2012 by his father and uncles, once again showed us the consequences of homophobia in this country.

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Provocation Reduction for Bishop’s Murderer

Source: Burcu Karakaş, “Rahip katiline tahrik indirimi,” (“Provocation reduction for Bishop’s murderer,”) Milliyet, 24 January 2013, http://gundem.milliyet.com.tr/rahip-katline-tahrik-indirimi/gundem/gundemdetay/24.01.2013/1659533/default.htm

Murat Altun, who was being tried for life in prison for the murder of Bishop Padovese in Iskenderun in 2010, benefited from the unjust provocation reduction and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January 2013.

Bishop Luigi Padovese, Representative of the Catholic Church in Anatolia, was stabbed to death in his home on 3 June 2010 in the Iskenderun region of Hatay. His murderer Murat Altun was tried for life in prison but received only 15 years jail time. The Iskenderun Second High Criminal Court agreed with the prosecutor’s reasoning that “the defendant’s claim that there was a demand for sexual intercourse must be considered given the principle that the suspect benefits from doubt even though the deceased cannot prove otherwise.” Based on this reasoning the court ruled on the “unjust provocation reduction” for the defendant.

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Transphobic Hate Crime in Mersin

Source: Baki Uguz, “Mersin’de Transfobik Nefret Saldırısı,” (“Transphobic Hate Crime in Mersin,”) Kaos GL, 24 December 2013, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=15468

A transsexual who works as a sex worker in the southern city of Mersin was attacked by a group of people with cleavers and sticks in the central district of Yenişehir. The trans woman was seriously injured due to the attacks and was taken to the emergency room of the Toros State Hospital.

A trans woman named Deniz was attacked by three unknown individuals on Monday night at around 8.30 PM, as she left her house and went to local bank Akbank at Pozcu, Mersin.

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LGBTI NEWS TURKEY’s Summary of Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Turkey

LGBTI NEWS TURKEY submitted this document at the Core Group Luncheon Hosted by the European Union for LGBTI activists in New York on 9 December 2013. The same document has been serviced to the United Nations Press Office for International Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Violations in Turkey and LGBTI People

  • Violations of human rights in Turkey are well documented: During the 2013 Gezi demonstrations, 5 protestors were killed, more than 8,000 people were injured. Unofficial detentions and arbitrary arrests were recorded.
  • Turkey has one of the world’s worst records in press freedom: Data from October 2013 puts the number of imprisoned journalists at 65 for allegedly aiding terrorism and coup attempts. The trial of Hrant Dink’s murder is pending since 2007. Gag orders are widespread and media highly biased.
  • Though a wide-range of individuals and groups have faced rights violations, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex) people in Turkey have long been one of the most obvious targets due to deep-seated social and political prejudices that almost naturalize and render invisible some blatant forms of discrimination.
  • These violations occur in almost total disregard of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is binding for Turkey under international law. ECHR also takes priority over domestic law, put in motion by Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution.

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Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ’s Press Statement at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey

Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ was working as a football referee in Trabzon, Turkey for 14 years. After many ordeals in the military system, he finally got his “unfit to serve in the military” report based on his sexual orientation. The Turkish Military deems homosexuality a “psychosexual disorder.” He submitted this report to the Turkish Football Federation in Febraury 2009. This report was leaked to the press and his sexual orientation was outed. From that moment on, he was no longer assigned matches, barred from exams, and targeted by homophobia. In November 2010, Dinçdağ filed a suit against the Turkish Football Federation for the violation of his right to privacy and discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. The 10th hearing of the case will be heard on 10 December 2013 on Human Rights Day.

Dinçdağ explained the process and the rights violations in a press statement with Republican People’s Party MP Melda Onur. Please turn the captions on for English subtitles.

Avcılar-Meis Housing Complex: Violation of the Right to Housing

Source: Sosyal Politikalar, Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği. (Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) LGBT Hak İhlalleri: Emsal Dava Analizleri (The Rights Violations Against LGBT People: Selected Case Analyses.) Istanbul: Punto Baskı Çözümleri, 2013. Available at: http://www.spod.org.tr/turkce/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/emsal-dava-analizleri-son1.pdf

Subject of Investigation

Action for annulment of the administrative act with a stay motion at the Administrative Court and implementation and whether these procedures have been conducted according to the law and justice.

Scope of Investigation

Küçükçekmece Public Prosecutor’s Office Investigation File No: 2012/38854 and Istanbul Eighth Administrative Court action for annulment of the administrative act with a stay motion File No: 2012/2027

Procedures of Investigation

The suspect Hürriyet Aydın, who settled in Avcılar Meis Housing Complex after the seven prior complainants, began the provocation and was joined by many people in behaviors that led to harassment, provocation, and violence towards seven clients who had been living in the complex for many years. This behavior got more violent with time and was presented to the public by some media agencies leading to events that would further provoke the public and constitute a hate crime.

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2012 Report of Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Source: Sosyal Politikalar, Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği. (Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) 2012 Cinsel Yönelim ve Cinsiyet Kimliği Temelli İnsan Hakları İhlalleri İzleme Raporu. (2012 Report of Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.) Istanbul: Punto Baskı Çözümleri, 2013. Also available at: http://www.spod.org.tr/turkce/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hak_ihlal-son-1.pdf

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people, the year 2012 ended with various rights violations like previous years. In 2012, 11 hate crimes were committed. 6 transgender and 5 homosexual individuals lost their lives because of hate-motivated killings. 8 hate-motivated violence incidents were reported on the Internet and on LGBT news portals. It was a difficult year with lynching attempts, torture, ill treatment, domestic violence, rape and cyber attacks.

Under the “Discrimination” chapter of the report, 3 violations of the right to housing committed against transgender women were detected. In work life, 2 people started their legal struggles after they were fired for their sexual orientation. 4 people were not allowed to enter a place and to receive service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In health care services, the Turkish Red Crescent claimed that HIV-positive blood was obtained from a bisexual individual in the “HIV-Positive Blood” case. With the military’s redefinition of homosexuality leading the way, we have encountered discrimination in “state discourse” in 7 different events.

As LGBT associations, we have been working to monitor and report the human rights violations of LGBT people for the past seven years. When we compare the reports compiled since 2007, we observe that there is still no real change. The homophobic and transphobic implementation of law in ongoing cases, law enforcement agencies’ attitudes towards LGBT people, and new hate crimes still constitute a significant part of the reports.

The facts that Ahmet Yıldız’s case still has not closed, that “unjust provocation” reductions in penalties continue, and that killers are not caught are just a few of the problems detected… There were 11 violations of the right to life that were recorded in 2012. As LGBT associations, we will continue to follow the court cases on rights violations in the coming years. In this way, these cases will continue to be on the agenda of the human rights movement.

Human rights monitoring and reporting activities are performed by LGBT associations’ volunteer networks and employees. This may cause us to receive news of rights violations late or not be informed of them at all. For example, we were late to hear about the hate crime in Diyarbakır. We were also late to hear about the death of the young gay man in Ankara after his forced suicide. We are aware that there are rights violations, especially of the right to life, of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that we have not or could not have heard.

Therefore, this report does not display the entirety of the human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey. These violations have many layers and the obligation to hide their sexual orientation and gender identity is one of them. Another aspect is the thought that they will be violated again when trying to access justice against violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. At the same time, the inability to guess how their legal process will reflect on other parts of their lives is another facet. All these layers continue to make LGBT people defenseless and easy targets against violations and makes their victimization permanent.

Some of the categories under the “Hate Crimes” heading are ones that we have just started reporting on. The obstacles put in place in accessing the websites of LGBT associations from universities and the hacking of news sites by “religious” groups constitute are new fields of violation against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people’s freedom of speech.

In 2012, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people “faced lynching” in Çandarlı, Izmir and in Antalya. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or heterosexual people were attacked due to homophobic and transphobic motivations. The perpetrators defended themselves by saying that the victims were homosexuals.

We emphasize that the long-established judicial practice of giving penalty reductions based on unjust provocation in hate-motivated killings of LGBTs have made LGBT people open targets and as mentioned above, perpetrators continue to be rewarded by the judiciary. As long as this implementation continues, LGBTs will continue to be targets.

This report is entitled “2012 Report of Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” Our problem of accessing the problems of homosexual and bisexual women and the discrimination and other human rights violations committed against trans men continue. As LGBT associations, we continue to think about ways to overcome this deficiency.

This report consists of 5 parts. In the first part, we assess Hate Crimes. The second part is on Discrimination and Hate Speech. In the third part, we present Ongoing Court Cases in 2013 and in the fourth part, we give place to Cases Concluded in 2012. The fifth part records Positive Developments. In the conclusion, we list the demands of LGBT organizations in the field of human rights.

Access the full report: 2012 SOGI Rights Violations in Turkey