The police officer, who was expelled from the profession for being gay, speaks

Source: “Eşcinsel olduğu için meslekten ihraç edilen polis konuştu,” (“The police officer, who was expelled from the profession for being gay, speaks,”) t24, 09 March 2014, http://m.t24.com.tr/haber/escinsel-oldugu-icin-meslekten-ihrac-edilen-polis-konustu/252935

The gay police officer who was accused of unchaste conduct and expelled from the profession, said, “If, in 18 years, I had once made myself visible as gay, one day, and been fired upon a complaint, I would not have been sorry..”

The gay police officer being accused of “unchaste conduct” while on duty was fired and expelled from the profession as a result of the statement he submitted to the Morality Desk. He was fired and banned from the profession on the grounds that he “consorted with women who worked in brothels or worked alone at premises such as bars, taverns, casinos, etc. where prostitution takes place, or consorted with women and men reputed to be unchaste and lived like husband and wife.” The officer appealed to the administrative court but his appeal was rejected.

The police officer, who was fired for being gay, spoke to Burcu Karakaş. Below is the interview that was published in the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet:

It all began with the police raiding the house while you were hanging out with your friend. What happened that day? 

I was in Gaziantep, a practicing Muslim, performing my prayers. I had no sexual life. The friend whose house I was at that day was someone I visited now and then for a chat. It was a Friday. I went home after work. I was living with my parents in the police residential housing. My friend said he was not feeling well and asked me to bring him a meal. Just as he was having his second bite from his dinner the doorbell rang. He opened the door. I looked up and saw the civil police.

Did you know they were from the Morality Desk?

Their faces looked familiar and I knew they were cops, but I did not know what division they were from. They asked for the owner of the house. I said, “I am a cop, too. Is there a problem?” They said, “Let us see your ID.” I said that it was in the car. We went downstairs. They said, “We will go to the Police Headquarters.” We went to the Morality Desk.

Did any of your colleagues see you there? 

No. But people who came inside looked at us with such contempt. They took my friend’s statement first. Then, the head of the Morality Desk called me. He asked, “Do you know the person whose house you were at?” I said, “Yes, I do. He is a friend.” “Do you know he is gay?” he said. “Whether I know or not, his private life is none of my business,” I said.

Did he ask if you were gay?

He did. I said, “No, I am not.” Anyway, it is an identity that I do not live with. Afterwards, my friends who work in technical surveillance investigated and saw that they had put me under technical and physical surveillance. Or rather, my friend was under observation and my conversations were also bugged. Had I not been under surveillance, they could not have shown up at his house within 20 minutes of my arrival there.

“I contemplated suicide but could not do it”

How did you feel when you found out that you were under pursuit?

I was devastated. They had listened to everything. It is illegal. I gave my statement and returned home. I could not sleep all night. I went out while my parents were asleep. I went to a park. I had my gun with me. I contemplated suicide but I could not do it. Both because of my belief in God and the thought of my parents for whose care I am responsible… After I left the house, cops from the Morality Desk came. They asked for me, and my mother told them that I was not home. She called me, saying, “Your cop friends are asking for you, is there a problem?” I said, “No, nothing.” The head of my branch called in the evening. We met; he asked what was going on and I told him.

Did you tell him you were gay?  

No. While we were sitting, he called the branch. They had already exchanged phone calls. A friend from the branch showed up in civilian clothes.  He said, “Brother, can I get your weapon and your ID?” I said, “Sure.” From then on, I was put on leave. I left for home. My parents asked me what was wrong. I did not tell them the details but said, “I was given leave, don’t ask me anything.”

“If you are afraid of God, you will tell the truth”

How did you explain the situation to your father?

When my father asked, “Why don’t you tell me, son?” I said, “I don’t want to talk, father.” He was upset with my answer. He went to Mersin. He was sick with cirrhosis. He became bedridden after I was expelled from the profession. He passed away four months ago. After I was removed from duty, I could not stay at the police housing any more. I could not even go outside to buy bread. After my father’s passing, my mother and I went to Mersin to live with my sibling.

Did your sibling ask why you had come?

Yes, but I did not answer. Ten days later I was called by the personnel branch. They said, “The investigators will take your statement.” I went. They said, “If you also did not have something [to hide], you would not be socializing with this person.” The one with the higher rank said, “Until now I have kept quiet. I appeared as if I swallowed it. If you do not answer my questions truthfully, I will become another person.” Then he said that he took my colleagues’ statements and they had not said anything negative about me. “We know you are someone who is loyal to your faith and religion. If you fear God, you will tell the truth.”  Because I fear God, I said, “This is it.” I could not put up with it anymore. I said, “Yes, this is my sexual identity.”

How did they react? 

They said, “We know homosexuality does not happen later in life. We know God created you like this. No one can question your private life.”  They asked questions like “Have you ever dated a lady?” and “How long have you been like this?” They went so far into my private life… They said, “We are going to give you a penalty of a six month reduction in rank. Otherwise they may seek to ban you from the profession. We are trying for you.”  But all this is a rigged game. All my friends who have been banned from the profession have been through the same thing. A week later I received notice of non-prosecution. And anyway, there was no element of crime. Legally, you are required to return to service a month after you are removed from duty. They recommended that I request my transfer. I requested Mersin, but I got Manisa. I moved to Manisa with my mother. My father stayed in Mersin. One day, I received a notice. The province disciplinary commission found the penalty to be too low and demanded my expulsion from profession. I had to go give another statement. I was devastated when I saw this. I had worked in Manisa for a year and in the end, I received the notice of discharge.

“It would have better if I were executed by the death penalty”

How did you hear about the decision to expel you from profession?

I was on my annual leave. They called. They said, “You have papers, you need to come and get discharged.” Should I not be given a private notice? I went to the branch; all papers were out in the open, they had been copied. Everyone had read them and they were all giving me strange looks.

How did you explain to your family why you were fired?

I said, “I got fired, mother.” What can she do, poor woman? They did not ask why. They must have guessed something. I am not feminine. My family still does not know I am gay. They never pressured me about marriage. It is so hard to play a double life…We keep our feelings all inside and live them inside. We cannot even live them…

The evening you went in to give your statement, had it crossed your mind that it would go so far as being expelled from the profession?

Despite the fact that I had not publicly conceded that I was gay, the cop friend who took my statement said to me, “You will be kicked out after this incident.” They had their own construction of events. They talked with pity. I was devastated anyway, and on top of that, they stand in front of me and talk like that. My situation does not fit the referenced article in the disciplinary code. I neither engaged in prostitution nor was I caught commiting a bad act. The day after I was called in for a statement, when friends at the Morality Desk talked about it with each other, everyone found out. They exposed me so badly; may God expose them the in same way. I have one cop friend who I still see. Other people’s opinions of me have not changed, but most of them severed their ties.

 

Was being a police officer your childhood dream?

 

I liked being a police officer. I graduated at the top of my class. And I was accomplished in my job; I had awards.

How did being expelled like this from a profession that you have served for so long affect you?

Homosexuality does is not a crime according to the constitution in Turkey. If, in 18 years, I had once made myself visible as gay, one day, and been fired upon a complaint, I would not have been sorry. I would have said, “I deserve it.” A friend said, “It would have been better if they executed you.” I thought the same. You are left completely naked in life. I had credit card debt. I was referred to a debt collector. I do not know how I will pay. When you are looking for a job, and  you tell them you were fired from the police, nobody asks why. Experts say homosexuality is not a disease, but the Security Directorate considers it a disease and they do not let us work. I do not understand this. Currently, there is a civil servant amnesty bill in parliament. I wonder if it will include us.

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