Turkey’s UPR review and Deputy PM Arınç’s LGBT remarks

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Arınç: LGBT’lerin adlarının anılmaması haklarının olmadığı anlamına gelmez”, (“Arınç: The lack of reference to LGBTs does not mean they do not have rights”), kaosGL.org, 27 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18578

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç stated that there is no discriminatory legislation against LGBTs in Turkey’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva. Arınç stated that the fact that there is no special regulation for LGBTs does not mean that their rights are ignored.

Member states of the United Nations submitted their recommendations in Turkey’s second Universal Periodic Review on 27 January 2015 under the auspices of the Human Rights Council.

Common recommendations were on the freedom of expression and assembly, violence against women, gender equality, and independence of the judiciary. The delegations of Croatia, Germany, and Slovenia submitted recommendations on the recognition of the right to conscientious objection.

11 countries made LGBT recommendations

Recommendations on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity were put forth by 11 states. In the first-cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, Turkey had received only 5 recommendations on this issue.

Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Norway, and Slovenia’s recommendations included the need for legislation on non-discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Belgium, the United States, Czech Republic, Spain, and Switzerland submitted advance written questions. These are non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity [Belgium, Czech Republic, Switzerland], training for government employees on equal treatment for LGBT persons [USA], and the current punitive system of the Turkish Armed Forces which considers homosexuality and transsexuality as diseases [Spain].

Deputy PM Arınç: It’s not that there are no LGBT rights

[we will share translation of the LGBT-specific parts of Bülent Arınç’s speech when the webcast archive is uploaded]

Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Human Rights Bülent Arınç stated that they try to “have democratic relations with everyone no matter their identity”. Arınç said, “There are no discriminatory legislation against LGBTs” and that the lack of a special regulation for LGBTs does not mean that their rights are ignored.

Arınç: Istanbul Convention includes sexual orientation

Arınç noted that the Constitution’s Article 90 stipulates that international agreements duly put into force bear the force of law and that the Istanbul Convention includes the term sexual orientation.

Arınç also said that effective investigations on hate crimes against LGBTs are in place and that claims of “unjust provocation” reductions are incorrect.

The UN’s translation mistake: Sexual preference instead of sexual orientation

There were mistakes in the Turkish translation at Turkey’s Universal Periodic Review. The translator used the terms “sexual preference and social identity” instead of “sexual orientation and gender identity” when simultaneously translating the recommendations.

Kaos GL Association in Geneva

Ezgi Koçak from Kaos GL Association observed the session in Geneva and spoke on behalf of LGBTI News Turkey and Kaos GL at a Law Society and Civicus side-event on the freedom of expression in Turkey. Koçak had shared the joint LGBT submission “Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey” with LGBTI News Turkey’s Zeynep Bilginsoy at the UPR pre-session in December.

Turkey did not implement pledged recommendation in the first-cycle on LGBT

Turkey received recommendations on its human rights record for the second time since the first-cycle in 2010. In the first-cycle, former Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek had claimed that the prevention of discrimination against LGBTs was under the protection of the Constitution.

In 2010, Turkey had accepted recommendations from Norway, Canada, and the Netherlands to implement non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Turkey had also noted the Czech Republic’s recommendation to provide training to public officers on human rights, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Since its first review, Turkey failed to implement these recommendations on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Even though the Istanbul Convention, which Turkey ratified in November 2011, include the terms sexual orientation and gender identity in its article on non-discrimination, Turkey must bring its domestic laws in line with this convention to fulfill its international obligations.

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