International Mechanisms

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

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.