“LGBTs Forgotten in the Democracy Package”

Source: Etkin Haber Ajansı, “Demokrasi paketinde LGBT’ler unutuldu!,” (“LGBTs Forgotten in the Democracy Package!,”) 30 September 2013, http://www.etha.com.tr/Haber/2013/09/30/politika/demokrasi-paketinde-lgbtler-unutuldu/

Levent Pişkin from SPoD Social Policies, Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association talked about hate crime legislation and said, “sexual orientation and gender identity” were forgotten. He said, “Erdoğan’s law against discrimination will be the only law in the world that creates discrimination.”

Levent Pişkin assessed Prime Minister Erdoğan’s speech on the “democracy package” and the regulations on hate crimes today.

“Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Were Not Included”

Pişkin emphasized that “sexual orientation and gender identity” were again forgotten. “As LGBTs, we have been working for the inclusion of hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity within the context of hate crimes for years. As you may remember, the government drafted a bill on hate crimes. We also participated in this process. The draft included “sexual orientation and gender identity” when it was sent to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, however, the commission removed these terms. Erdoğan’s laws against discrimination and hate crimes will be the only laws in the world that create discrimination.”

“We Were Not Hopeful About the Package Anyway” 

Levent Pişkin reiterated that LGBTs were not so hopeful about the package and said, “We thought that maybe sexual orientation and gender identity would also be included in the hate crimes law when it was in the media. But it did not happen.”

Pişkin stated, “It is a horrible situation that sexual orientation and gender identity are not included. The LGBT community deals with these facts: our killers still get “unjust provocation” rewards in their sentences, everyone discriminates, and a parliamentarian of the ruling Justice and Democracy Party (AKP) declares LGBTs sick. The AKP has committed two hate crimes. But of course, it’s not in the legislation.”

“Freedom of Speech Can Be Restricted” 

Levent Pişkin remarked that the hate crimes legislation that Prime Minister Erdoğan announced today would lead to restrictions on freedom of speech. He said, “I think this law will be shaped on Islamophobia.”

Pişkin said that “Erdoğan’s understanding of hate crimes is defined by religion, conscience, and the freedom of belief,” while reminding us of the censorship of Ekşisözlük (a popular online dictionary) regarding the cases of Sevan Nişanyan (Turkish-Armenian author sentenced under Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code, which states “Anyone who openly denigrates the religious values of a part of the population shall be sentenced to imprisonment from six months to one year, where the act is sufficient to breach public peace.”) and Fazıl Say (Turkish pianist and composer sentenced under Article 216). He asked, “When all these are put together, I wonder if saying “there is no God” will be considered a hate crime? Will this hate crime legislation also guarantee the freedom of expression of atheists?”

Pişkin emphasized that hate crime legislation should not include restrictions on freedom of expression.

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