Source: “İstanbul Milletvekili Toprak, LGBT bireylerin sorunlarının araştırılmasını istedi,” (“Istanbul Parliamentarian Binnaz Toprak Requests an Investigation into the Problems of LGBT Individuals,”) Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, 15 February 2013, http://www.chp.org.tr/?p=104475
Note: Motion was rejected after parliamentary vote on 29 May 2013.
Istanbul MP Binnaz Toprak requested a Parliamentary Research to determine the problems of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people, their reasons and solution offers. Here is the motion of Istanbul MP Binnaz Toprak for a study on the problems of LGBT individuals.
Individuals regarded as the “other” by the state and society, are discriminated against not only on the grounds of their race, religion, language, gender, sect, ethnic origin, and political views but also because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In this sense, the policy of denial, violence, and discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) citizens remains unchanged. LGBT individuals are oppressed by the majority’s pressure politically, economically, socially and psychologically.
From the political perspective, The political institution that is supposed to lead society and guide its transformation and development, ignores the discrimination LGBT individuals face and does not take any steps to prevent this discrimination. Governments have internalized the discourse of the majority and supported discrimination and othering. Contrary to the findings of scientific studies, a minister responsible for societal gender equality who is expected to be more delicate on the issue, found it appropriate to argue that homosexuality is an illness to be cured. We can see the reflections of this insight in legislation such as the Act on the Protection of Family and the Prevention of Violence against Women no. 6284, which includes neither sexual orientation nor gender identity. Moreover, “gender” as the term written in all the international conventions that the Republic of Turkey signed is excluded from the Act; instead, “equality of women and men” is preferred, which is an outdated concept in international law and literature. Similarly, the opposition’s motion for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity through the construction of a new Constitution gets nay vote on the part of AKP.
It is important that politicians take a stance and set an attitude on the issue. The attitude of the political institution also determines the behaviors of bureaucratic authorities towards the citizens. As a matter of fact, one of the issues that LGBT individuals complain about is police harassment and violence. There are hundreds of LGBT individuals are not able to pay the fines that are given on the grounds of the Law of Misdemeanors. The police, from time to time adopts methods which are beyond their authority and that cannot even be imagined in a state of law. For instance, they stop gay individuals randomly on the street, take them into the police station without any reason, check out their underwear and fine them on the grounds of the Law of Misdemeanors. In other respects, in a study conducted with LGBT individuals, seventy percent of participants state that they fear being assaulted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity as a result of social prejudice. A great majority of these citizens which constitute a remarkable portion of society do not feel secure and do not have faith in police protection in the case of assault.
Economically, LGBT individuals face discrimination, mobbing, stigmatizing in working life in the event of outing their sexual orientation and gender identity. This causes them to either hide their identities or to be excluded from the labor market. Many people who are excluded from working life because of their gender identity have to survive as sex workers. In other words, discrimination in the economic field leads sexual behavior bound by private life to spread across the social field. The behaviors and attitudes about employment of LGBT individuals also shed light on the hypocrisy of our society; while our society insults and represses ordinary LGBT individuals, they embrace LGBT celebrities in popular culture.
In a social and psychological sense, the leading source of the problems of people with different sexual orientations or gender identities is a social one. Variance of sexual orientation have existed for centuries and is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. LGBT individuals who are being discriminated by the majority of our society have existed in society both in the past and today. However, these people are labeled as “ill” and “perverted” by the society in Turkey; society’s prejudices turn the lives of LGBT individuals as well as the lives of their families into nightmares. The testimonials of the LİSTAG parents, an NGO constituted by the families of LGBT individuals provide examples for both citizens and political authorities to make a choice between their conscience and societal prejudices. (for a related story please see: Hürriyet Pazar, Ayşe Arman Interview, February 10th 2013, page 14-15)
Unfortunately, such prejudices in society cause murders and violence such as the case of Ahmet Yıldız who was killed by his father or the lynch attempts in Avcılar. The fact that the political institution does not investigate the reasons why a father would kill his son, which is an unthinkable act, that it regards the issue within the framework of “public morality”; and that it does not take any legal measures, cannot be respected as the policies of a modern state that prizes human rights. In the background of harassment, violence and murders, there is exclusion from family, being ignored by one’s intimate environment, being humiliated by society, and political negligence about such prejudices. According to the report of Amnesty International with limited statistics, 16 murders took place against LGBT individuals in 2010. The predicted numbers go beyond these statistics. The state does not even bother to regard cases of homophobic murders as statistical data. Furthermore, suicide cases of among LGBT individuals who are repressed by societal prejudices are not statistically known and the reasons for their suicide exist as a different societal problem.
The United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights ensures everyone the right to work without any kind of discrimination. ILO’s n.111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) include clauses on prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, political view, nationality or social origin, as European Union’s n.2000/78 directive embodies the prohibitive provisions against direct or indirect discrimination based on age, disability, religion, world view and sexual orientation. Even though they do not embody sexual orientation and gender identity, Article 10 and 70 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey and Article 5 of Labor Law are anti-discriminatory articles. In this context, national and international legislations should be compared to each other and legal guarantees on behalf of sexual orientation and gender identity must be provided.
Because of all the reasons that have been stated above, this motion aims to initiate a parliamentary investigation to determine the problems and the causes of these problems in terms of political, economic, social and psychological aspects so as to prevent the discrimination, violence and othering against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual individuals. A detailed study will be deemed as a source and will become a guide to enable the transformation of this mindset as a whole.
The politics of discrimination, denial, and othering towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT) individuals continue. A parliamentary investigation is needed to determine the financial, political, social, and psychological problems LGBT individuals face, to investigate the causes of these problems, and to propose solutions to these problems.
In our country where hate crimes increase every day, the political institution has so far ignored LGBT individuals who are the most significant victims of these crimes. It is important to investigate the problems LGBT individuals and their families face within their surroundings, the discrimination in work life, and the sexual harassment and violence by society or security forces.
According to the European Union’s Directive 2000/78, any direct or indirect discrimination based on “sexual orientation,” like age, disability, religion, and belief, is prohibited. The United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the International Labour Organization’s No. 111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention also include clauses on prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The European Union’s Turkey Progress Report 2012’s anti-discrimination chapter includes the following statements: “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals continued to suffer discrimination, intimidation and were the victims of violent crimes. LGBT employees and civil servants have been fired on the grounds of sexual orientation. Other reported spheres of discrimination against LGBT individuals include access to housing and to health services (especially in the case of transgender individuals)…Shortcomings in the investigation and prosecution of crimes against people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity led to impunity for the perpetrators.”(1) This situation is parallel to a study done among LGBT individuals . 70% of LGBT individuals state that they fear violence because their sexual orientation or gender identity is different and they do not believe security officers would protect them in a situation like this. The discrimination LGBT individuals face and their lack of trust in the state’s security apparatus are contradictory to the Constitution’s Article 5 , which underlines the state’s fundamental aims and duties: “to ensure the welfare, peace, and happiness of the individual and society; to strive for the removal of political, social and economic obstacles which restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual in a manner incompatible with the principles of justice and of the social state governed by the rule of law; and to provide the conditions required for the development of the individual’s material and spiritual existence.”
The discrimination LGBT individuals face because of their identities confronts them in all aspects of their lives. This inquiry motion has been put forth to investigate the issues such as mobbing at work, methods of othering and violence by families, society, and security forces, the lack of political representation despite the fact that they can vote as citizens of the Turkish Republic, and the political neglect, in detail. This motion has also been made to ensure legal guarantee on behalf of sexual orientation and gender identity.