We are insistent in our demand to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the Constitution’s article on “equality”
As the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) movement, we have been sharing our demand to include the expressions “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Constitution’s article on “equality” with decision-makers and the public since 2001. We have organized campaigns and explained our demands to NGOs and political parties in the effort to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity at a Constitutional level and for the recognition of LGBTI people as equal citizens. The Constitution’s article on equality exists to protect the rights of individuals against social discrimination. Obscure terms such as “general morality” and “disparity from the Turkish family structure” in the Constitution of 12 September 1980 coup cause the extortion of our rights. We are struggling to ensure the protection of our fundamental rights and to make sure these rights do not fall prey to the biases of legal administrators.
We thank the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) and CHP (Republican People’s Party) who advocated our democratic claims and brought LGBTI citizens’ constitutional equality before the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission and put discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on the Parliament’s agenda, thereby fulfilling their responsibilities to the public. The ruling party AKP (Justice and Development Party) and MHP (Nationalist Movement Party), on the other hand, have continued their exclusionary attitude and participated in the discrimination against us. At the end of the Commission’s discussions, the aforementioned parties gave the signal that they would agree with the BDP and CHP on including sexual orientation and gender identity in the preamble of the Constitution, though not in the article on “equality” itself.
This signal, however, does not guarantee that the expressions “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” will be included in the preamble of the Constitution’s draft. The AKP and MHP’s insistence on not fulfilling their duties to the public in regards to public peace and democratization as well as AKP deputies’ statements that declare LGBTI as sick worry us. Just three months ago, AKP parliamentarian Türkan Dağoğlu took a stance against CHP’s motion to investigate LGBT problems –a motion supported also by BDP– and used her title as a medical doctor to claim, “this condition, which we call LGBT is a behavior that is outside the bounds of normality.” In this way, she showed that both her and the party in power, which she represents, are opposed even to investigating the problems these individuals face.
We insist on our demand that the Constitution’s article on equality should clearly state the ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, if this cannot be accomplished with the current political actors, the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity, at least in the preamble of the article on equality, is significant for the LGBTI.
We, as LGBTI people and LGBTI organizations, will continue our struggle and support for a more equal and free social transformation despite the shortcomings within the law. We call on our supporters to join us in following up on our demands and once again call on political parties to take a stance against discrimination and fulfill their duties towards equal citizenship.
Marmara University LGBT – MadiMar