CHP Parliamentarian Melda Onur’s Comments in Meeting with US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power

Source: LGBTI NEWS TURKEY,  simultaneous translation at event, 10 December 2013.

Melda Onur:

First of all we would like to thank you for this opportunity on this very important day, on human rights day. I am representing the main opposition party from Turkey, which is the Republican People’s Party.

Even though there is an ocean between Turkey and the US it is almost like we are neighbors. Both countries visit each other quite often and the president of the Republican People’s Party was just here. So I think everyone is following each other quite well. We are also sure that you have been following the rights violations in Turkey. These happen in various fields but the most important are the problems in the judiciary, in the freedom of expression, long detainment periods of parliamentarians as well as journalists.

And among all of this is of course the violence towards women, towards children and of course the most obvious targets of this violence is LGBT people.

I want to mention our government’s increased tendency towards becoming more conservative and this factors into the LGBTs in a way that they ignore LGBTs and they treat it as a sickness that can be treated. Within this situation LGBT organizations are getting stronger and this is translating into social awareness as you have been following. Since the summer the Gezi protests have really increased the visibility of LGBT associations and organizations and LGBT organizations are no longer seen as marginal. Resistance became the motto of our summer and we keep on saying that we are going to win by resisting and the LGBT organizations are resisting, resisting and winning.

What we are doing as the Republican People’s Party, I would like to summarize in a few points. First of all, we are following NGOs very closely. We are attending their demonstrations, we are following their cases. I want to mention the case of a football referee called Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ. His case started in 2010 and one of the hearings was today. He was a football referee for 14 years but his sexual orientation was revealed when he did not want to do his compulsory military service and once his sexual orientation was revealed his entire right to privacy was violated and he was fired. Today’s hearing did not lead to any results and it has been postponed again. In the Turkish Parliament we submit questions to the parliament regarding the problems LGBTs face and especially the LGBT inmates. We have been working on the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the new constitution as well as the hate crimes legislation. However, our government has not included it in the clauses. LGBT refugees from Syria and Iran is also another issue of course and finally the Republican People’s Party is supporting LGBT candidates in the upcoming local elections in March.

What we would like to kindly ask you is to continue your pressure on our government and we would like to thank you.

 Samantha Power:

One thing I would imagine is that many of the people around the table [referring to LGBTI activists from 15 countries] are a little bit jealous. Because you know, we have a real politician with us who is standing up on behalf of LGBT. The fact that you are in the Parliament and you are defending these issues, I think gives us some hope. That is what we need all around the world, is for politicians and members of Parliament and policy makers not to be inhibited and to be pushing these issues.

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