International Mechanisms

International human rights mechanisms (i.e, UN, EU, CoE) for LGBTI rights in Turkey

ILGA-Europe’s #AnnualReview2019 is now out!

Annual Review 2020 report cover.png

 

ILGA Europe’s annual review covering the period of January and December 2019 is published. The Turkey chapter was drafted in coordination with team members of LGBTI News Turkey. Once more, Turkey ranks 48 among 49 countries, with a score of 5%. You can read the Turkey chapter here and the full report here.

Below we share the press release on the report:

Annual Review of the situation of LGBTI people paints a picture at odds with a widespread notion that in Europe the work is done

Launched today [February 4, 2020] , the 10th edition of ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review details the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people across the 49 European countries, and the five countries of Central Asia. Created with LGBTI activists and experts on the ground, the Review also identifies trends, both current and on the rise.

This year’s review, which charts developments during the 12 months of 2019, paints a complex picture that diverges from the widespread narrative that all is well for LGBTI people in large parts of Europe. Central to this is a sharp rise in anti-LGBTI hate speech carried out by public figures across Europe – in countries ranging from Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey, to Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain – and the very real consequences of this for LGBTI individuals and groups. In many countries across the European and Central Asian regions, and not only those with a documented growth in official bias-motivated speech, there has also been an equally sharp increase in online hate-speech and physical attacks on LGBTI people, many of the latter premeditated and brutal.

The review identifies that this is a pan-European phenomenon, from the UK where the populist narrative surrounding Brexit can be linked to an increase in anti-LGBTI hate crimes and incidents, to the banning of events in many towns and cities on the continent, the prosecution of participants in Pride marches in Turkey, and a growing presence of anti-LGBTI and neo-Nazi protesters in public spaces during LGBTI events across the region.

Alongside the rise in hatred, there is increased movement of people from within the region to countries perceived as less harsh. More LGBTI people left countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan for neighbouring countries where the situation might be perceived as relatively safer. There is also an anecdotal rise in people saying they want to leave countries like Poland for other EU countries.

Reported obstacles in access to healthcare, bullying in schools and the workplace, and LGBTI people being denied services, often with a lack of governmental intervention, all play a part in the overall picture of a Europe where lived experiences for a large part do not match up with the surface message that LGBTI rights and equality have been fully secured.

According to Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe: “It is not all bad news. The issue of bodily integrity for intersex people continues to gain more prominence on the political agenda of governments and institutions. 2019 was a year of positive developments for rainbow families in the region, with an expansion of family rights in a few countries; and important advancements continue to be made on reforming or establishing legal gender recognition procedures, even if in many countries progress is slowing down.

“However, the lived reality of LGBTI people in many parts of Europe and Central Asia is increasingly difficult and for a large part remains invisible, even to organisations like ILGA-Europe. Action is needed. Governments still have so much to do, from adopting laws that guarantee the protection of people’s rights and giving public authorities the means to translate policy into practice across sectors, to leading by example in having a discourse promoting social acceptance and inclusion.

“By making people aware of such a broad and nuanced picture, which is constantly shifting and evolving, the ILGA-Europe Annual Review aims to give a sense of the enormity of issues and areas that affect the lives of people, which will continue to require attention, especially in a context where LGBTI people are being targeted and vulnerability is heightened.”

Evrensel: Gender and LGBTIs in Alevism*

Source: Ali Kenanoğlu, “Alevilikte Cinisyet ve LGBTI’ler,” Evrensel, 21 July, 2017 https://www.evrensel.net/yazi/79533/alevilikte-cinsiyet-ve-lgbtiler

In prevalent faiths or religions with holy books, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the attitude towards individuals with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) sexual identity is very rigid.

Every year the biggest threats against the LGBTIs who want to organize a Pride March come from the “nationalist Muslims.” As a matter of fact, in Turkey, nationalism, i.e. Turkism, and Islam are not thought of as separate things. Nationalism in Turkey receives acceptance as long as it is united with Sunni Islam. So much so that Turkmen Alevis were not accepted as Turks before the 1980s, and Christian Gagauz Turks were deported in the early years of the republic.

Despite some different approaches to LGBTIs by certain Muslims, such as the Anticapitalist Muslims going against Semawi religions’ approach, the general perception and definition is “pervert, perverted.” Considering these definitions, every mistreatment and attack against LGBTIs and even massacres are seen acceptable and in fact considered as “they deserve it.”

It’s not possible for LGBTI members of the Semawi community to worship without hiding their identity. Because, based on past experience, we all know that they have no safety in the mosque they’ll enter.

In Alevism, however, there is no gender discrimination. In the Alevi mass worship ritual, cem [pronounced as jam — Trans.], everyone is referred to as “Can [or jaan, meaning “life” or “the essence which gives one life” but also used as a name with the extended meaning “dear” –Trans.], Cem Saints” which are gender-free descriptions. There is no gender discrimination in Alevism, however, individuals who fail to comprehend Alevism, make gender discrimination and LGBTI discrimination as they do in other faiths.

Despite many examples, there are still those who couldn’t grasp, understand, comprehend Alevism, those even arguing that women cannot take a “post” [a seat reserved for a high ranking leader in Alevi hierarchy –Trans.] and lead the cem.

A couple of days ago, Alevis Union Federation in Germany made one of the most important statements of recent years and presented Alevis’ approach to jaans with LGBTI sexual identity which was not declared to public until now probably because there was no occasion.

The statement with the title “the ka’bah of our belief is human, its pilgrim is jaan” included the following sentences; “Our association, not only disregards all the common prejudices against LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex) individuals but also does not consider the unwarranted statements based on these prejudices worth discussing. We refuse all the approaches, advocated by conservative fractions starting with the AKP, which make representation of homosexuals in public space difficult. As an association, we do not only fight against the marginalization of the Alevi community. Our belief that brings forth the concept of “Jaan,” instead of the concept of congregation that exists in panislamist societies, rejects every kind of discrimination. The Alevi community whose ka’bah is human, sees everything as a reflection of Haq [Allah, the fair and noble one — Trans.]. Our teaching does not discriminate based on language, religion, nationality, color, gender. Humanity is the most sacred value.

We defend a social order that delivers all the rights extorted from all individuals starting from women, far from male-dominant understanding and rest on the ideal of equality amongst genders.

In addition, we demand the impunity and guarantee of private lives, and an end to social grudge and hatred. At this point, our ground is respecting human rights including all the members of society.”

The approach in Alevism towards gender identities is best summed up by the Sovereign Haji Bektash Veli’s following words:
“In the language of friendly conversation, one does not ask about male-female,
Everything Haq created is in its proper place,
In our view there is no female-male difference,
Flaw and lack is in your view.”

With love…

*Alevism is a mystical branch of Islam whose adherents follow the teachings of Caliph Ali.

Turkish Intelligence Document: ISIS to Target Kaos GL?

It has been revealed that the Governorship of Ankara is oblivious to the intelligence document suggesting that ISIS plans to target many locations including Kaos GL. The association is awaiting a response from the General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces and the Prime Ministry.

Source: Kaos GL, “Emniyetin haberi yok, Genelkurmay da kendine ivedi!” (“The police is oblivious, the General Staff is self-prioritizing!”) 8 April 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21480, and  KaosGL, “Turkish intelligence document: ISIS targets Kaos GL,” 12 April 2016, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=21494

Kaos GL Association contacted the Gülhane Military Medical Academy (GATA) and Ankara District Police Counter-Terror Department as soon as the document was in circulation.

Upon receiving a response from the Counter-Terror Department stating that “such information has not yet reached them,” the association received a confirmation from GATA Ankara over the phone regarding the document being an “internal correspondence,” although the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces has not officially confirmed it.

Kaos GL Association has also submitted an application to the Governorship of Ankara, the Provincial Police Department, Prime Ministry and General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces after the GATA document labeled “urgent” with the subject heading “action warning” began to circulate on social media.

The lawyers of Kaos GL Association Hayriye Kara and Oya Aydın informed kaosGL.org that they have not yet received a written response from the General Staff or the Prime Ministry to their application.

The Governorship is Oblivious, The District Police Lacks the Capacity to Provide Protection!

The internal correspondence document of the General Staff Gülhane Military Medical Academy dated 29 March 2016 and labeled as “urgent” with a subject of “action warning” began to circulate on social media on April 1.

According to the document, Kaos GL Association is among the locations of potential targets in Ankara and Istanbul for “DEAŞ [ISIS — Trans.] terrorist organisation” as referred to by GATA.

The lawyers of the association  informed kaosGL.org that they submitted an application to the Governorship of Ankara and requested urgent protection.

From Governorship to Provincial Police, and onto District Police

The lawyers of Kaos GL Association explained their deliberation at the Governorship of Ankara as follows:

“The governorship has simply accepted the petition and told us that they will send it to the related department in the Provincial Police Department of Ankara. We requested them to pursue it themselves given the urgency of the situation. However, the governorship did not send an order for an investigation to verify the context of the document or to provide protection or to investigate the seriousness of the situation. The Governorship has only approved that they received such information, dated and stamped to notify they received it and are directing it. We understand that they laid it at Ankara Provincial Police’s door.”

The lawyers of the Association pointed out that despite their persistent request for security and protection, responsibility of decision making has been attributed to first Governorship to Provincial Police and from them to the District Police.

After the “Çankaya District Police is in charge” approach by the Provincial Police Department, the lawyers inquired “What happens if the District Police could not provide such protection?” to which Provincial Police responded as “then they will write back to the Provincial department again.”

Çankaya District Police: We Do not Have the Capacity

As Provincial Police sent the petition to the District Police of Çankaya, we also went to the District Police Department, the lawyers said.

Çankaya District Police, who appears to be oblivious to the document, told “we can increase the patrol in that area and have the officers check the location regularly but we do not have the capacity to assign a team to secure the area permanently.”

Kaos Cultural Center is Temporarily Closed

The lawyers of the association are awaiting a response to their application inquiring “Whether such document exists or not, if it exists what kind of precautions will be taken” and “If such document does not exist, whether or not the people who released it for circulation will be investigated?”

The lawyers suggested that the intelligence document stating the Association being counted among “possible target” locations “caused unease among staff, Association members, and volunteers.“

Association declared that until the necessary precautions are taken and the information is received on the outcome of the document, Kaos GL Cultural Center will remain closed, works and activities will continue.

Kaos GL, founded in 1994 is pursuing its activities since 2005 as an association registered to Governorship of Ankara Association Department. Kaos GL Association is the first registered association in Turkey that is working in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.

 

The European Court of Human Rights to announce verdict on Turkish gender reassignment law

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will announce its final judgment on March 10 in the case of a trans man in Turkey who was not granted court permission needed for gender reassignment surgery.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “AİHM trans geçiş sürecine ilişkin kararını 10 Mart’ta açıklayacak” (“ECtHR to announce verdict on Turkish gender reassignment law”), kaosGL.org, 24 February 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18827

The ECtHR will announce its final verdict on Y.Y. v Turkey case regarding Article 40* of the Turkish Civil Code on gender reassignment.

What does Article 40 require?

Article 40 of the Turkish Civil Code stipulates that a court permission must be obtained in order to undergo gender reassignment surgery. According to the article, the permission can only be given if the person is over 18 and unmarried and if the person has obtained official medical board reports to prove that the operation is psychologically needed and that the ability to reproduce is permanently lost.

Proof for being “unable to reproduce” brought a legal deadlock

The applicant who wants to be registered as male and to get permission for gender reassignment surgery applied to a Court of First Instance in 2005. The next year, he got two different psychiatric expert reports in February and April, stating that he must continue his life as a man. However, following a report in May stating that the person still has the ability to reproduce, the court ruled that the applicant does not fulfill the requirements of Article 40.

How can one fulfill Article 40’s requirements if the surgery for losing reproductive ability has not been permitted?

The Supreme Court of Appeals stated in a May 2007 verdict that the decision by the Court of First Instance is correct. It also rejected the applicant’s request for a correction in the ruling in October 2007.

Y.Y. v Turkey

The applicant took the case to the ECtHR in 2008, complaining about the content and the interpretation of the law. In the proceeding which started 2 years later, he underlined that the relevant requirement of the law can only be fulfilled by a surgery, leaving him in an inconclusive situation.

Although it was proven by medical reports that the applicant identifies as a man and his physiology does not fit his gender identity, it was not enough for the court. The applicant claims that his right to privacy, designated in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, has been violated.

“If accepted, the case might lead to an amendment in the law”

The applicant’s lawyer, Ali Nezhet Bozlu, explained the possible outcomes of the case to kaosGL.org:

The legal impact depends on whether the ECtHR will accept the case and their justifications. If it is accepted, the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe will monitor the implementation of the decision and perhaps mention the case in Turkey’s Progress Reports. This may lead to a discussion to amend the law, however, such amendments take time.

Article 40 of the Turkish Civil Code:

A person who wishes to change their gender may request permission to change their gender by applying in person to the court. However, for the permission to be granted, the applicant must be 18 years old and must be unmarried. The applicant must also be in a transsexual nature and must document the necessity to change their gender for their mental health and that they are permanently deprived of reproductive abilities through an official health committee report obtained from an education and research hospital. Depending on the permission granted, once the gender reassignment surgery fit for the aim and medical methods has been completed and verified by an official health committee report, the court decides to make the necessary changes in the population registry.

Prison time and fine for Conscientious Objector Mehmet Tarhan

The Sivas Military Court sentenced conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan to 15 months in prison and a 9,000 Turkish Lira fine. The Military Court’s ruling ignores the European Court of Human Rights’ earlier verdict on Tarhan v. Turkey.

Source: “Vicdani retçi Mehmet Tarhan’a hapis ve para cezası!” (“Prison time and fine for conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan”), KaosGL.org, 10 February 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18692

Conscientious objector and LGBTI activist Mehmet Tarhan received a 15-month prison sentence and a 9,000 Turkish lira (~$3,600) fine based on disobedience charges.

The Sivas Military Court’s ruling on the case is in conflict with the earlier European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) verdict from 17 July 2012, which stated that Tarhan’s rights were violated by the Turkish state.

Tarhan spoke to KaosGL.org about the court’s decision: “The Sivas Military Court has shown that it does not recognize either the constitution or the European Court of Human Rights. We will take the decision to the Supreme Court of Appeals.”

mehmettarhan1

What happened before?

Tarhan rejected military service and announced his conscientious objection in 2001. In 2005, he was forcibly taken for military service, sued for insubordination in two separate cases, and treated poorly whilst under arrest in a military prison.

In violation of the constitution and the ECtHR, Tarhan was given a physical exam because of his homosexuality.

According to records dated 25 May 2005, Tarhan’s hair and beard were shaved against his will by seven soldiers, who pulled him down onto the ground and got on top of him. Tarhan reported having suffered several bruises and abrasions on his body. He started a 28-day hunger strike the same day.

ECtHR convicted Turkey

Tarhan then applied to the ECtHR to defend his right to conscientious objection and report his maltreatment under arrest. The ECtHR ruled that the European Human Rights Convention was violated in Tarhan’s case and sentenced Turkey to pay 10,000 Euros.

Amnesty International Statement from 18 October 2006- “Turkey: Conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan sentenced

Deputy PM Bülent Arınç’s Statement on LGBT at the Universal Periodic Review

Bülent Arınç, Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Human Rights, represented Turkey at the Universal Periodic Review on 27 January 2015. The webcast archive of the session can be viewed here.

arinc_epi

In response to questions and recommendations on LGBT rights in Turkey, Arınç said,

There is no discriminatory provision against LGBTs in our laws.

The principle that everyone is equal before the law without distinction as to language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, sect and other such grounds is organised by the Constitution’s Article 10. Due to the expression “and other such grounds” in the aforementioned article, types of discriminations are not limited but rather exemplified, and there is no question that other types of discrimination are left outside the scope. That there is no special regulation for LGBTs does not mean that this group’s rights are not legally guaranteed.

On the other hand, pursuant to our Constitution’s Article 90, the international agreements we ratify are [considered] law. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence -Istanbul Convention-, which we ratified without reservations, includes provisions which state that there can be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In our country, like in all democratic states of law, perpetrators who commit murder and acts of violence against individuals of LGBT and all kinds of hate crimes are identified, the necessary investigations are started in order to bring them to justice, and the process is conducted by legal authorities scrupulously. The claims that the reasoning of unjust provocation constitute a routine in the reduction of penal responsibility do not match with the real situation that is revealed by tangible court decisions.

Translated by LGBTI News Turkey.

İnsan haklarından sorumlu Başbakan Yardımcısı Bülent Arınç’ın 27 Ocak 2015 tarihli Türkiye’nin Evrensel Periyodik İncelemesi’nde LGBT ile ilgili sözleri:

Mevzuatımızda LGBT’lere yönelik ayrımcı bir hüküm bulunmamaktadır.

Dil, ırk, renk, cinsiyet, siyasi düşünce, felsefi inanç, din, mezhep ve benzeri sebeplere ayrım gözetilmeksizin herkesin kanun önünde eşitliği ilkesi anayasanın 10. maddesi ile düzenlenmiştir. Sözkonusu maddede yer alan “ve benzeri sebeplerle” ifadesi sayesinde ayrımcılık türleri sınırlayıcı değil örnekleyici olup, diğer ayrımcılık türlerinin kapsam dışı kalması söz konusu değildir. LGBT’lere yönelik özel bir düzenlemenin olmaması hukuken bu grubun haklarının garanti altına alınmadığı anlamına gelmez.

Diğer tarafta anayasamızın 90. maddesi uyarınca onayladığımız uluslararası anlaşmalar kanun hükmündedir. Çekincesiz olarak taraf olduğumuz Kadına Yönelik Şiddet ve Aile İçi Şiddetin Önlenmesi ve Bunlarla Mücadeleye İlişkin Avrupa Konseyi Sözleşmesi’nde  -İstanbul Sözleşmesi-, cinsel yönelim temelinde ayrımcılık yapılamayacağına ilişkin hükümler de yer almaktadır.

Ülkemizde tüm demokratik hukuk devletlerinde olduğu gibi, LGBT’li bireylere karşı öldürme ve şiddet eylemleri ile her türlü nefret suçlarını işleyen faillerin belirlenerek adalete teslim edilmelerini teminen gerekli tahkikat açılmakta ve süreç adli makamlarca titizlikle yürütülmektedir. Sözkonusu davalarda haksız tahrik gerekçesinin ceza sorumluluğunu azaltan bir rutin teşkil ettiği yönündeki iddialar somut mahkeme kararları ile ortaya çıkan gerçek durumla örtüşmemektedir.

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.

Türkiye’nin İnsan Hakları Sicili Birleşmiş Milletler İnsan Hakları Konseyi’nde İncelenecek

Ortak Basın Açıklaması
KAOS GL, LGBTI NEWS TURKEY, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and ILGA-World

İletişim:
İstanbul: Zeynep Bilginsoy zeynep@lgbtinewsturkey.com
Ankara: Ezgi Kocak ezgi.kocak@kaosgl.org
New York: Hossein Alizadeh halizadeh@iglhrc.org
Cenevre: Alessia Valenza alessia@ilga.org

#UPRTurkey, #UPR21, @lgbtinewsturkey, @KaosGL, @IGLHRC, @ILGAWORLD

(İstanbul, Cenevre, New York; 26 Ocak 2015)

27 Ocak 2015 tarihinde, Birleşmiş Milletler’e üye devletler Türkiye’nin 2010’dan bu yana tutulan insan hakları sicilini inceleyecek. 2010’da devlet cinsel yönelim ve cinsel kimlik temelli ayrımcılıklar üzerine sicilini iyileştireceğine dair güvence vermişti. Fakat o günden beri LGBTİ kuruluşları Türkiye’nin bu alandaki başarısızlığını belgeledi.

İnsan Hakları Konseyi’nin gerçekleştireceği Evrensel Periyodik İnceleme’nin (EPİ) ikinci turu Türkiye’nin 2010’daki ilk turda kabul ettiği tavsiyelerin bir takibi niteliğinde olacak. Türkiye’nin ikinci periyodik değerlendirmesi İnsan Hakları Konseyi EPİ Çalışma Grubu’nun 21. oturumunda gerçekleştirilecek. İnceleme altındaki diğer ülkeler gibi Türkiye’nin EPİ süreci farklı bölgesel gruplardan seçilmiş üç konsey üyesi ülke tarafından yürütülecek: Gabon, Küba ve Suudi Arabistan. Bu üçlü, Türkiye’nin EPİ sürecinde raportör olarak hareket edecek. Üye ülkeler, sivil toplum tarafından belirtilen görüşlerle birlikte Türkiye’nin insan hakları sicili hakkında Birleşmiş Milletler üyesi diğer ülkelerin de tavsiye ve sorularını gündeme getirecek.

Türkiye’nin ikinci EPİ turuna katkıda bulunan yerel ve uluslararası sivil toplum kuruluşlarının sayısında ümit verici bir artış görülmüştür. LGBTİ kuruluşları da bu harekete katkıda bulunarak “Türkiye’de LGBT Yurttaşlara Yönelik İnsan Hakları İhlalleri” başlıklı belgeyi İnsan Hakları Konseyi’ne sunmuştur.

Gazetecilere, gelecek EPİ incelemesi hakkında bilgi vermek amacıyla  IGLHRC, KAOS GL ve LGBTI NEWS TURKEY tarafından hazırlanan “Arka Plan: İnsan Hakları Konseyi Evrensel Periyodik İncelemesi’nin Türkiye Değerlendirmesi” kuruluşların internet sitelerinde bulunabilir. Uzmanlar süreçle ilgili medya tarafından sorulacak soruları cevaplamaya da hazırlar.

Türkiye’nin ikinci periyodik incelemesi Cenevre’de Birleşmiş Milletler İnsan Hakları Konseyi’nde (Palais des Nations, Oda 20, 09.00) 27 Ocak’ta gerçekleştirilecek ve oturum http://www.upr-info.org/en/webcast adresinde canlı olarak yayınlanacak. Oturumun video arşivi, ilk oturumun arşiviyle beraber http://www.upr-info.org/en/webcast/Turkey adresinde bulunabilir.

Arka Plan: İnsan Hakları Konseyi Evrensel Periyodik İncelemesi’nin Türkiye Değerlendirmesi

Ortak Basın Açıklaması
KAOS GL, LGBTI NEWS TURKEY, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and ILGA-World

Birleşmiş Milletler İnsan Hakları Konseyi’nin 27 Ocak 2015 tarihinde yapacağı değerlendirme Türkiye’nin insan hakları sicilinin uluslarlarası boyutta incelenmesi için ikinci defa gönüllü olmasıyla gerçekleşiyor. Türkiye’nin ilk EPİ değerlendirmesi, İnsan Hakları Konseyi’nde Mayıs 2010’da gerçekleşmişti. Evrensel Periyodik İnceleme, devletlere insan hakları performanslarını tartışma ve kendilerini nasıl geliştirebilecekleri üzerine geri bildirim alma imkanı veren devletler tarafından yürütülen bir süreçtir.

Birinci Tur

2010’da devletler Türkiye’nin sicilindeki cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliği temelli ayrımcılıklar konusundaki endişeleri dile getirmişti. Türkiye bu oturumda Norveç, Kanada ve Hollanda’nın tavsiyelerini kabul etti ve bu tür ayrımcılıkları azaltmak için girişimlerde bulunacağına dair söz verdi. Çelişkili bir biçimde, Çek Cumhuriyeti ve İrlanda tarafından verilen benzer tavsiyeler hükümet tarafından reddedildi fakat Çek Cumhuriyeti’nin kadına karşı ayrımcılıkla mücadele etmek için verdiği tavsiyede cinsel yönelim teriminin ve İrlanda’nın tavsiyesinde cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliği terimlerinin kaldırılması ile önerileri kabul edilmişti. Hükümet ayrıca Çek Cumhuriyeti’nin devlet personeline verilecek cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliği odaklı bir insan hakları eğitimi üzerine tavsiyesini de not aldı.

Birinci Turun ve Yeni Gelişmelerin Takibi

Türkiye ilk değerlendirmesinden bu yana, cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliği temelli ayrımcılıklar konusunda kabul etmiş olduğu tavsiyeleri uygulamaya koymada başarısız oldu. “Cinsel yönelim” ve “cinsiyet kimliği” terimleri, içinde ayrımcılık ve nefret suçları üzerine düzenlemeleri de bulunduran Mart 2014 tarihli Yeni Demokrasi Paketi’nde yer almadı. Buna ek olarak, cinsel yönelim ve cinsel kimlik terimlerine dair herhangi bir referansa yeni anayasa taslağının eşitlik üzerine olan maddesinde de yer verilmedi.

Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Anayasası’nın 90. maddesi, usulüne göre yürürlüğe konulmuş temel hak ve özgürlüklere ilişkin milletlerarası antlaşmaların kanun hükmünde olduğunu ve üstünlüğünü belirtir. Türkiye’nin Kasım 2011’de onayladığı Kadınlara Yönelik Şiddet ve Aile İçi Şiddetin Önlenmesi ve Bunlarla Mücadeleye İlişjkin Avrupa Konseyi Sözleşmesi’nin ayrımcılık karşıtı hükmü, “cinsel yönelim” ve “cinsiyet kimliği” terimlerini içeriyor. Bu hükümetin bu zamana kadar sorumluluğunu üzerine almayı reddettiği LGBTİ bireylerin güvenliğinin sağlama alınması için iç hukukunu bu anlaşmanın eksenine getirerek uluslararası yükümlülüklerini yerine getirmesi gerektiği anlamına geliyor.

İkinci Tur: LGBTİ Grubu Gönderisi

2014 yazında, yerel ve uluslararası LGBTİ kuruluşları koalisyonu BM İnsan Hakları Konseyi’ne 2010-2014 yılları arasında LGBTİ bireylerin yaşadığı insan hakları ihlallerini belgeledikleri ortak bir EPİ raporu sundu. Rapor, gerçek veya varsayılan cinsel yönelim veya cinsiyet kimliği sebebiyle gerçekleşen en az 41 ölümün altını çizdi. Bu sayı LGBTİ dernekleri ve basına yansıyan vakalarla sınırlıdır.

Türkiye’nin EPİ’nin ilk turunda cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliği terimlerinin de bulunacağı kapsayıcı bir ayrımcılıkla mücadele yasasını yürürlüğe koyma sözüne karşın hükümet bu kesimi tanımak ve korumak adına hiçbir girişimde bulunmadı. Devlet tanıması ve korumasının yokluğu sebebiyle Türkiye’de cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliği temelli suçların verileri toplanmıyor, hatta bazı hakimler LGBTİ bireylere karşı işlenen nefret suçlarının faillerinin hapis cezalarına indirim uyguluyor. Eşcinsellik bir suç olarak görülmese bile çoğunlukla “müstehcen” veya “hukuka ve ahlaka aykırı” olarak adlandırılıyor. Cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliğinin bu şekilde yorumlanması LGBTİ topluluğunun ifade ve dernek kurma özgürlüğünü kısıtlıyor. Buna ek olarak, LGBTİ bireylerin yasal korumasının olmaması, bireylere yönelik cinsel yönelim ve cinsiyet kimliği temelli sistematik bir ayrımcılıkla sonuçlanıyor. Cinsel yönelimleri utanç verici ve “memurluk sıfatı ile bağdaşmayacak nitelik ve derece yüz kızartıcı” bulunduğu için kamu personelleri işlerinden çıkarıldı. Trans bireylerin ayrımcılık sebebiyle çalışma hayatına erişimleri yok ve seks işçiliğine başvurduklarındaysa polis tarafından keyfi olarak cezalandırılıyorlar.

AKP hükümetinin temsilcilerinin LGBTİ bireyler hakkında yaptıkları aşağılayıcı açıklamalar, homofobik ve transfobik bir ortama katkıda bulunuyorlar. 2010’da Kadın ve Aileden Sorumlu Devlet Bakanı Aliye Kavaf, “Ben eşcinselliğin biyolojik bir bozukluk, bir hastalık olduğuna inanıyorum. Tedavi edilmesi gereken bir şey bence” açıklamasında bulundu. 2013’te, İstanbul Milletvekili ve Sağlık, Aile, Çalışma ve Sosyal İşler Komisyonu Başkanı Türkan Dağoğlu “LGBT dediğimiz durum normal dışı bir davranıştır” açıklamasını yaptı. Hükümet yanlısı gazetelerin yinelemesiyle, bu söylemler ayrımcılık ve nefret suçlarının devam edebilmesini sağlıyor.

Son olarak, Türkiye’nin EPİ’nin ikinci turu için sunduğu Ulusal Rapor da cinsel yönelim, cinsiyet kimliği veya LGBTİ sorunlarıyla ilgili herhangi bir referans içermiyor.

Turkey’s Human Rights Record to be Reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council 

Joint Media Advisory
KAOS GL, LGBTI NEWS TURKEY, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and ILGA-World

Media Contacts:

In Istanbul: Zeynep Bilginsoy zeynep@lgbtinewsturkey.com
In Ankara: Ezgi Kocak ezgi.kocak@kaosgl.org
In New York: Hossein Alizadeh halizadeh@iglhrc.org
In Geneva: Alessia Valenza alessia@ilga.org

#UPRTurkey, #UPR21, @lgbtinewsturkey, @KaosGL, @IGLHRC, @ILGAWORLD

(Istanbul, Geneva, New York; January, 23, 2015) — On 27 January 2015, United Nations’ member states will review the Republic of Turkey’s human rights record since 2010, when the nation pledged to improve its record on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Since then, LGBTI organizations have documented Turkey’s failure to do so.

The Human Rights’ Council’s second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be a follow up on the recommendations that Turkey accepted during the first cycle in 2010. The second periodic review of Turkey will take place during the 21st session of the Human Rights Council’s UPR Working Group. Similar to other countries under review, Turkey’s UPR process is facilitated by groups of three Council members from different regional groups, Gabon, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. This troika will act as rapporteur for Turkey’s UPR review. Member states will be raising questions based on civil society’s submissions along with recommendations and questions about Turkey’s human rights records shared by other members of the United Nations.

The second cycle of Turkey’s UPR already shows a promising increase in the engagement of local and international civil society organizations that include LGBTI organizations who have submitted a document entitled “Human Rights Violations of LGBTI Individuals in Turkey” for the Human Rights Council’s consideration.

To help journalists cover the upcoming UPR review, IGLHRC, KAOS GL, and LGBTI NEWS TURKEY have included the attached “Background: The UPR Review of Turkey by the UN Human Rights Council” also available on the organizations’ websites. Experts are available to answer media inquiries about the process.

The Second Periodic Review of Turkey will take place at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s (09:00 in Room 20 at the Palais des Nations) in Geneva on January 27 and will be telecast live at this address: http://www.upr-info.org/en/webcast. The video archives of the session, as well as the videos from the first session are available on this website: http://www.upr-info.org/en/webcast/Turkey

Background: The UPR Review of Turkey by the UN Human Rights Council

Joint Media Advisory
KAOS GL, LGBTI NEWS TURKEY, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and ILGA-World

The January 27, 2015 review of the Republic of Turkey at the U.N. Human Rights Council marks the second time that Turkey volunteered to present its human rights records to be evaluated by members of the international community. In May 2010, Turkey had its first UPR review at the Human Rights Council. The Universal Periodic Review is a state-driven process, which allows states to discuss their human rights performance and receive feedback on how they can improve.

The First Cycle

In 2010, states raised concerns about Turkey’s record of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Turkey accepted recommendations by Norway, Canada and the Netherlands and committed to take steps to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Paradoxically, the Government rejected similar non-discrimination recommendations by the Czech Republic and Ireland but accepted amendments to combat discrimination against women with the removal of the term sexual orientation in the case of the Czech Republic and the removal of the terms sexual orientation and gender identity in the case of Ireland. The Government also noted the Czech Republic’s recommendation on human rights education and training for state personnel with a focus that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The full list of recommendations accepted by the Republic of Turkey during the first UPR review can be viewed here.

Follow-up to the First Cycle and New Developments

Since undergoing its first review, Turkey has failed to implement the accepted recommendations of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were not included in the 6th Democratization Package of March 2014 that includes the Anti-Discrimination Bill and regulations on the basis of Hate Crimes. Furthermore, no reference to sexual orientation and gender identity were included in the Article on Equality of the New Constitution’s draft.

Article 90 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey stipulates that international agreements duly put into effect have the force of law. The non-discrimination provision of the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence which Turkey ratified in November 2011, includes the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. This means that Turkey must fulfill its international obligation to bring its domestic laws in line with this convention to ensure the protection of LGBT individuals, something that the government in Ankara has so far refused to undertake.

The Second Cycle: LGBT Group’s Submission

In the summer of 2014, a coalition of local and international LGBTI organizations submitted a joint UPR report to the U.N. Human Rights Council documenting rights violations against LGBTI individuals between 2010 and 2014. The report highlighted the murder of at least 41 individuals due to their real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity. This number is limited to data compiled from reports by LGBTI associations and the Turkish media.

Despite Turkey’s pledge to implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation with the inclusion of the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) in the first UPR cycle back in 2010, the government of Turkey has not taken any steps to legally recognize or protect these categories. In the absence of state recognition and protection of LGBTI individuals, Turkey does not collect data on crimes committed on the basis of SOGI; while some Judges apply reductions to prison sentences of perpetrators of hate crimes against LGBT individuals. Though homosexuality is not criminalized, homosexuality is often considered “indecent” and “contrary to law and ethics”. Such troubling interpretations of sexual orientation and gender identity have in effect limited the right to free speech and freedom of association for the LGBTI community. Furthermore, the lack of legal protection for LGBTI persons have resulted in systematic discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity: Civil servants are fired because their sexual orientation is considered shameful and “unfit for the position of a civil servant”. Trans individuals have no access to employment because of rampant discrimination and are arbitrarily fined by the police when they turn to sex work.

Officials from the ruling AKP government in some cases contribute to a homophobic and transphobic environment by making derisive statements about LGBTI persons in public. In 2010, Aliye Kavaf, then the State Minister of the Affairs of Women and Families, stated that she believes “homosexuality is a biological disorder, a disease … something that needs to be treated”. In 2013, Türkan Dağoğlu, Istanbul MP and Deputy President of the Committee on Health, Family, Labor, and Social Affairs, stated in that “’LGBT’ is a behavior that is outside the bounds of normality”. These statements are then mirrored in pro-government newspapers, potentially contributing to a context in which the cycle of discrimination and hate crimes can continue.

Finally, the Republic of Turkey’s National Report submission for the second cycle of the UPR does not include any reference to sexual orientation, gender identity or LGBTI issues.

Turkey Monitoring Platform on Violations of the Istanbul Convention in GREVIO Election-Process

The Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe is the first convention to combat violence against women and include sexual orientation and gender identity as categories of non-discrimination that Turkey is party to. Article 90 of the Republic of Turkey’s Constitution states that “international agreements duly put into effect have the force of law”. The text below shows the impediments put in place by the ruling government of the Justice and Development Party for the participation of independent NGOs in the monitoring mechanisms of the Convention, a violation of the convention.

Source: “İstanbul Sözleşmesi- Grevio Seçimi: Bu Seçim Yok Hükmündedir!” (“Istanbul Convention- GREVIO Election: This Election should not count!” kaosGL.org, 23 December 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=18314

The Istanbul Convention Turkey Monitoring Platform has declared that it will not recognize the GREVIO Election that excludes Women and LGBTI organizations.

The election for the anti-violence expert action group the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) which will monitor the implementation of the convention by state parties took place on 22 December 2014 at a meeting of the Ministry of the Family and Social Policies.

The Istanbul Convention Turkey Monitoring Platform stated that the government cannot prevent violence through associations that they have founded themselves and through the exclusion of Women and LGBTI organizations. The full statement is as follows:

The Government cannot prevent violence through its own associations! 

The Ministry of the Family and Social Policies has decided that the 3 NGOs in the 9 person committee to designate candidates for the Istanbul convention monitoring group GREVIO be KADEM, AK-DER and KASAD-D [NGOs close to the ruling AKP government]. The “election” of the 3 NGOs took place after independent Women and LGBTI organizations left the meeting in response to the Ministry’s complete refusal to assess their objections to methodologies.

The Istanbul Convention, which Turkey signed first and accepted without any reservations thanks to the efforts of independent women’s organizations, came into effect on 1 August 2014. The Istanbul Convention is the most up-to-date and comprehensive text that clearly expresses the root cause of violence against women to be inequality between men and women and that aims to eradicate violence based on gender. Let us not forget the strong allegations that claim efforts by the Minister of the Family and Social Policies, Ayşenur İslam, to withdraw Turkey’s signature from the convention.

(more…)

Invitation from the USA for LGBTI Activist and politician Sedef Çakmak

SPoD LGBTI (Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) activist and Beşiktaş Mayoral Advisor Sedef Çakmak will attend two events in the USA to describe her involvement in politics as an openly gay activist and politician.

Source: “ABD’den LGBTİ aktivisti ve siyasetçi Sedef Çakmak’a davet”, (“Invitation from the USA for LGBTI Activist and politician Sedef Çakmak”), diken.com.tr, 7 December 2014, http://www.diken.com.tr/abdden-lgbti-aktivisti-ve-siyasetci-sedef-cakmaka-davet/

Sedef Çakmak is a board member at SPoD LGBTI. At the same time, she is the advisor to Beşiktaş Mayor Murat Hazinedar. She embarked on her political career as an openly bisexual woman. In the USA, she will recount her political activities as well as her experience in the local elections and the strategies that she believes LGBTI individuals must adopt in the future.

sedef

Çakmak will first attend a panel at the International LGBT Leadership Conference organized by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute in Washington DC between 4-7 December. She will deliver a talk as an LBT (lesbian, bisexual, trans) politician and in her talk she will focus on the process of taking part in politics in Turkey, her political campaign, media portrayals of her as a gay politician and her opinions in regard to the future state of LBT women politicians.

Gay and trans women on the path to parliament

On Saturday (December 6th), Sedef Çakmak will deliver a talk at a panel entitled “Women Out to Win: The Path to Parliament” at the same conference.

On the World Human Rights Day, she will talk about the LGBTI movement in Turkey

During this visit to the USA, Sedef Çakmak is also scheduled to attend an event in New York.

On December 10th, Çakmak will talk about the LGBTI movement and organizations in Turkey at an event organized by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) within the framework of the World Human Rights Day.

Who is Sedef Çakmak?

During the local elections that took place in March 2014, Sedef Çakmak ran a campaign as a council candidate for the CHP (Republican People’s Party) in Beşiktaş. At the end of the elections, she was elected first substitute council member. Mayor Murat Hazinedar chose Çakmak to be his advisor. Çakmak has been a member of the LGBTI movement since her college days and she has been advocating for LGBTI political demands in her work with the municipality of Beşiktaş. If she succeeds in moving from the substitute list to the main list in council membership, she will become the first politician in Turkey elected to office as an openly LGBTI individual. At the moment, Çakmak continues to serve as a board member for SPoD LGBTI, an association that focuses on social and economic rights for LGBTI people.

Universal Periodic Review Statement to the European Union

Statement delivered by Kaos GL’s Ezgi Kocak on December 3, 2014 in Geneva to Permanent Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations on behalf of Kaos GL, LGBTI News Turkey, IGLHRC, and ILGA World. 

Dear colleagues and representatives of the European Union,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of this meeting and to present the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals in Turkey. We represent the coalition of organisations (Kaos GL, LGBTI News Turkey, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Human Rights Commission).

10359500_1024760004208186_3911415750309036363_n

At the first-cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, Turkey accepted recommendations by Norway and the Netherlands for non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, Turkey accepted the Czech Republic’s recommendation to review national legislation on non-discrimination with regard to women and gender identity. However, Turkey has failed to implement these recommendations and have instead moved in the opposite direction.

Despite the Turkish government’s commitments made during the first UPR and in spite of the collective efforts of the Turkish and international civil society organisations over the past four years, no anti-discrimination legislation – in line with the UN and the CoE norms and standards- has yet been put into the legislative process. Particularly, the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were not included in the 6th Democratization Package of February 2014 that includes the Anti-Discrimination Bill and regulations on the basis of Hate Crimes. Furthermore, no reference to sexual orientation and gender identity were included in the Article on Equality of the New Constitution’s draft.

Article 90 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey stipulates that international agreements duly put into effect have the force of law. The non-discrimination article of the Istanbul Convention, which Turkey ratified in November 2011, includes the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. This means that Turkey must fulfil its international obligation to bring its domestic laws in line with this convention to ensure the protection of LGBT individuals, something that the government in Ankara has so far refused to undertake.

Finally, Turkey’s 2014 Progress Report complements our UPR submission and highlights equality and non-discrimination, right to life and security of the person, administration of justice, including impunity and the rule of law issues where the Turkish government fails to address in order to improve the human rights situation in Turkey for all citizens including LGBT individuals.

Recommendations

We respectfully request that the issue of protection of all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity is raised during the upcoming UPR session and that the following recommendations are made to the government of Turkey:

  • Include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in constitutional clauses on equality and non-discrimination, as well as in hate crimes legislation.
  • Conduct full and independent investigations into all allegations of harassment, violence, or abuse of LGBT individuals, and prosecute perpetrators.
  • Monitor, aggregate, and publish data on the number of complaints of violence against members of the LGBT community.
  • Provide legal protection and equal treatment for LGBT people who have faced discrimination and abuse due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Take all administrative measures, both on national and local levels, to prohibit and prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in order to provide effective protection of LGBT persons in Turkey.
  • Provide mandatory trainings on the international standards of non-discrimination to government officials, police, military, prison/detention staff and to the judiciary with specific emphasis on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Ensure that an individual’s mere existence as an LGBT individual is never considered “unjust provocation” of a criminal act, nor “contrary to law and ethics”.
  • Cease to categorise homosexuality and transsexuality as illnesses of any sort.
  • Guarantee the freedom of speech and association for LGBT community members and their allies.
  • Provide mandatory training for all personnel working with refugees, asylum-seekers, and temporary guests on UNHCR guidelines regarding LGBT individuals.

Universal Periodic Review Pre-Session Statement

Statement delivered by LGBTI News Turkey’s Zeynep Bilginsoy on December 3, 2014 in Geneva to Permanent Missions to the United Nations on behalf of Kaos GL, LGBTI News Turkey, IGLHRC, and ILGA World at Pre-Session event hosted by UPR Info. 

Dear colleagues and representatives of the Permanent Missions,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of this session and to present the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals in Turkey. This statement is delivered on behalf of a coalition of Turkish and international LGBT rights groups that have been engaged in the UPR process with the submission of a report entitled “Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey”.

IMG_6056.JPG

Although the National Report of Turkey states that a consultation meeting took place on 27 February 2014, none of the eight officially registered LGBT associations were invited to this meeting.

We believe that recommendations during the UPR review of Turkey can specifically help the LGBT community in Turkey in areas such as (1) right to life, non-discrimination, and administration of justice and (2) refugees and asylum-seekers.

(1) Right to life, non-discrimination, and administration of justice

“LGBT is a behaviour that is outside the bounds of normality” Türkan Dağoğlu, Istanbul MP and Deputy President of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Family, Labor, and Social Affairs, 2013

Between 2010 and June 2014, 41 individuals have been killed due to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Moreover, several incidents of gun and physical-assault-related injuries, fatal lynchings and rape cases have also been reported throughout this period of time.

Due to the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are not recognised as categories protected under anti-hate crime legislations, there is a lack of official data on instances of hate crimes. As a result, the number of deaths is estimated to be far higher. Besides, the fear of humiliation and undignified treatment that LGBT persons face throughout the legal process, along with concerns about revealing the survivor’s sexual orientation and gender identity to the public, are among the factors that prevent many LGBT individuals from seeking justice through the court.

Although Turkish legal codes do not explicitly discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the applications of existing laws by Turkey’s Judiciary is often discriminatory against LGBT individuals. Even worse, the perpetrators of anti-LGBT hate crimes can benefit from penalty reductions stipulated as part of “unjust provocation” regulations. Given the absence of any legal protection for individuals subjected to hate crimes based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and considering the biased application of the laws to the advantage of perpetrators of crimes against LGBT individuals, it is of utmost importance for the Republic of Turkey to consider offering comprehensive legal protection for LGBT individuals a top priority.

Follow-up to the First Review

At the first-cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Turkey in 2010, several states raised concerns and put recommendations to the Government relating to non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Turkish government accepted recommendations by Norway, Canada and the Netherlands (100.33, 102.11, 102.12) and therefore committed to take steps to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Paradoxically, the government rejected similar non-discrimination recommendations by the Czech Republic and Ireland but accepted amendments to combat discrimination against women with the removal of the term sexual orientation in the case of the Czech Republic (102.10) and the removal of the terms sexual orientation and gender identity in the case of Ireland (102.13). The government also noted the Czech Republic’s recommendation (102.32) on human rights education and training for state personnel with a focus that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

New Developments since the Review

Despite the Turkish government’s commitments made during the first UPR and in spite of the collective efforts of the Turkish and international civil society organisations over the past four years, no anti-discrimination legislation – in line with the UN and the CoE norms and standards- has yet been put into the legislative process. Particularly, the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were not included in the 6th Democratization Package of February 2014 that includes the Anti-Discrimination Bill and regulations on the basis of Hate Crimes. Furthermore, no reference to sexual orientation and gender identity were included in the Article on Equality of the New Constitution’s draft.

Article 90 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey stipulates that international agreements duly put into effect have the force of law. The non-discrimination article of the Istanbul Convention, which Turkey ratified in November 2011, includes the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. This means that Turkey must fulfil its international obligation to bring its domestic laws in line with this convention to ensure the protection of LGBT individuals, something that the government in Ankara has so far refused to undertake.

Recommendations

We respectfully request that the issue of protection of all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity is raised during the upcoming UPR session and that the following recommendations are made to the government of Turkey:

  • Include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in constitutional clauses on equality and non-discrimination, as well as in hate crimes legislation.
  • Conduct full and independent investigations into all allegations of harassment, violence, or abuse of LGBT individuals, and prosecute perpetrators.
  • Monitor, aggregate, and publish data on the number of complaints of violence against members of the LGBT community.
  • Provide legal protection and equal treatment for LGBT people who have faced discrimination and abuse due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender
identity.
  • Take all administrative measures, both on national and local levels, to prohibit and prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in order to provide effective protection of LGBT persons in Turkey.
  • Provide mandatory trainings on the international standards of non-discrimination to government officials, police, military, prison/detention staff and to the judiciary with specific emphasis on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Ensure that an individual’s mere existence as an LGBT individual is never considered “unjust provocation” of a criminal act, nor “contrary to law and ethics”.
  • Cease to categorise homosexuality and transsexuality as illnesses of any sort.
  • Guarantee the freedom of speech and association for LGBT community members and their allies.

(2) Refugees and asylum-seekers

Turkey has long served as a stepping-stone for thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Based on the Turkish government’s regulations, LGBT refugees arriving in Turkey are required to resettle in conservative satellite towns in the interior of Turkey, where they face discriminatory acts by public officials and law-enforcement agencies and violence from their neighbors. Their UNHCR processing times can take years, while they are unable to work both due to their refugee status and their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of the lack of the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the Law on Foreigners and International Protection, the existence of LGBT asylum-seekers and refugees as a category is not legally recognised. This issue is even more complicated for Syrians who have been given temporary protection in Turkish territory and who are considered “guests” rather than refugees.

Recommendations

We therefore request the distinguished delegations to consider making the following recommendations to the government of Turkey:

  • Provide mandatory training for all personnel working with refugees, asylum-seekers, and temporary guests on UNHCR guidelines regarding LGBT individuals.