LGBTI Employment

Employment issues for LGBTI in Turkey

Summary Results of the Social and Economic Problems of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) Individuals in Turkey Research

Source: Yılmaz, V. and Göçmen, İ. (June, 2015), “Summary Results of the Social and Economic Problems of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) Individuals in Turkey Research”, Vol. IV, Issue 6, pp.97-105, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=9142)

Abstract

Social and Economic Problems of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Individuals in Turkey Research offers insight to social and economic problems that LGBT individuals face due to the discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Results of the research report diverse forms of discrimination that LGBT individuals encounter in various domains of social policies including employment, health, education, income poverty, housing, participation in the social life, family and ageing. While reporting different forms of discrimination from the perspective of LGBT individuals, the research also demonstrates that the legal system falls short of tackling these forms of discrimination again in the eyes of LGBT individuals.

Please see the full article here: http://researchturkey.org/summary-results-of-the-social-and-economic-problems-of-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transsexual-lgbt-individuals-in-turkey-research/

Correspondent Michelle Demishevich beaten by police

Michelle Demishevich: “One of the police officers punched me in my abdominal cavity while I was following Sümeyye Erdoğan’s press statement.”

Source: “Muhabirimiz Michelle Demishevich’e polis dayağı!” (“Police beating to our correspondent Michelle Demishevich”), T24, 1 June 2015, http://t24.com.tr/haber/muhabirimiz-michelle-demisheviche-polis-dayagi,298422

T24 correspondent Michelle Demishevich was subjected to police violence by a plainclothes police officer while she was reporting at the press release by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan, in front of the Belgian Consulate [in Istanbul]. Our correspondent, who was removed from the area by being dragged by her hair, will be filing a formal complaint.

The AKP’s women’s branch issued a press statement in front of the Belgian Embassy in Istanbul in support of Mahinur Özdemir, an MP in the Belgian Parliament [who was expelled from her party, Humanist Democratic Centre, for acting against the party’s by-laws, which recognizes the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide -Trans.]. After the statement, Sümeyye Erdoğan met with the Belgian Consul-General. Michelle Demishevich reported that she was prevented by plainclothes police officers during Erdoğan’s press statement following the meeting. Demishevich said: “I was about to record Ms. Sümeyye’s statement when I was shut out by a total of five plainclothes police officers, two of whom were women. Officers ignored my objections that I was a journalist. I told Ms. Sümeyye and my colleagues that I was subjected to police violence. Ms. Sümeyye said ‘please do not block the journalist from performing her duty,’ yet the police officers dragged me away from the area by my hair.”

Demishevich reported the following regarding the assault against her by the officers:

“One of the officers punched me in my abdominal cavity. I informed my lawyers Yelvi Doğan, Harika Günay Karataş, and Levent Pişkin of the incident. We will be filing a criminal complaint against the officers.”

Turkey’s Council of State rules firing of gay teacher to be against the law

Source: “Danıştay, eşcinsel öğretmenin atılmasını hukuka aykırı buldu”, (“Council of State rules firing of gay teacher to be against the law”), memurlar.net, 17 March 2015, http://www.memurlar.net/haber/505697/

The Council of State has ruled that the dismissal of a teacher who has homosexual relations in their private life to be against the law. The Council of State has pointed to the lack of evidence, indication or witnesses to show that the plaintiff reflected homosexual tendencies in the school or engaged in such relations with students outside of the school. It also pointed to the testimonies of teachers and directors taken during the disciplinary investigation who work in the same school as the plaintiff in which they state that they have not seen any negative acts and that they have not heard anything about the issue.

Therefore, the Council of State has ruled that the act consists of consensual homosexual relations within the plaintiff’s private life and that it has no relevancy to Law No: 657 Article 124/2 on Disciplinary Law of Civil Servants and that it is not a disciplinary crime. The Council of State has annulled the decision of the administrative court which had not withdrawn the decision of dismissal from the profession.

The Council of State, 12th Circuit, No: 2011/750, Decision No: 2014/7169. Full decision in Turkish can be found here.

Editor’s Note:

The decision refers to the Turkish Constitution’s Article on Equality, Right to Respect for Private and Family Life and Article 90 that holds “international agreements duly put into effect bears the force of law”. The decision cites the European Convention on Human Rights’ Article 8 “Right to respect for private and family life” and Article 14 “Prohibition of discrimination”. The decision refers to European Court of Human Rights rulings Dudgeon v. United Kingdom (Application No: 7525/76 – Decision Date: 22.10.1981), Smith and Grady v. United Kingdom (Application No:33985/96- Decision Date: 27.9.1999), Lustig/Prean and Beckett v. United Kingdom (Application No: 31417/96 – Decision Date: 27.9.1999), Perkins and R. United Kingdom (Application No: 43208/98 – Decision Date: 22.10.2002), Beck, Copp and Bazeley v. United Kingdom (Application No:48535/99 – Decision Date: 22.10.2002), which put forth that dismissing person from the military based solely on their sexual orientation is a violation of ECHR’s Article 8 and ruling Özpınar v. Turkey (Application No: 20999/04 – Decision Date: 19.10.2010), which states that a judge’s dismissal from the profession on allegations of the judge’s relationships in their private life, way of dressing and makeup constituted a violation of the right to privacy.

 

Kürkçü asked the Labour Minister about the LGBTI employment

Ertuğrul Kürkçü from HDP submitted a motion regarding the employment of LGBTI to the Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik.

“Kürkçü, Çalışma Bakanı’na LGBTİ istihdamını sordu” [“Kürkçü asked the Labour Minister about the LGBTI employment”], Kaos GL, 05 February 2015, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18650

Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Mersin Representative of HDP, asked the Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Celik if they will begin taking actions about sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment.

Minister Çelik did not count LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) among disadvantaged groups in the labor force participation while answering the proposed motion Mahmut Tanal from the CHP presented in November.

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MP Mahmut Tanal’s Parliamentary Question on LGBT Employment

Mahmut Tanal, a parliamentarian from the Republican People’s Party filed a parliamentary question on LGBT employment. PDF

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey
Republican People’s Party (CHP)
Group Presidency
Date: 18 November 2014
No: 32293

To the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey

Ankara

I respectfully request the Minister of Labor and Social Security Faruk Çelik to respond to the questions below in writing in accordance with the 98th bylaw of the Constitution and the 96th bylaw of the Standing Orders.

Lawyer Mahmut Tanal

Member of Parliament from Istanbul

  • Does your Ministry do any work to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans citizens in the employment policies, especially regarding the participation of disadvantaged groups in labor force?
  • Do the public expenditures and the Ministry policies regarding youth empowerment include measures to help LGBT youth escape the circle of discrimination and social exclusion they are intensely exposed to, as well as suggestions based on human rights to address the problems of this group?

Ministry of Labor does not support LGBT participation in labor force

Turkish Minister of Labor and Social Security Faruk Çelik stated that the policies to support participation in the labor force do not include LGBTs.

Source: “Çalışma Bakanlığı: LGBT’lerin işgücüne katılımını desteklemiyoruz”, (“Ministry of Labor does not support LGBT participation in labor force”), kaosGL.org, 23 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18556

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security responded to a parliamentary question submitted by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Mahmut Tanal on the inclusion of LGBTs in its employment policies.

Minister of Labor and Social Security Faruk Çelik did not count LGBTs among the “disadvantaged groups” in employment which the Ministry gives support to for their labor-force participation.

Çelik’s answer to Tanal’s parliamentary question was as follows and can be seen in the original PDF here:

“The measures taken by our Ministry to support the labor-force participation of especially disadvantaged groups and to tackle discrimination and social exclusion concern women, children, people with disabilities, the youth, ex-convicts, the Roma, immigrants, the poor or people under poverty risk, addicts and seasonal workers.”

MP Mahmut Tanal had asked Çelik the following questions:

  • Does your Ministry do any work to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans citizens in the employment policies, especially regarding the participation of disadvantaged groups in labor force?
  • Do the public expenditures and the Ministry policies regarding youth empowerment include measures to help LGBT youth escape the circle of discrimination and social exclusion they are intensely exposed to, as well as suggestions based on human rights to address the problems of this group?

No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point

Sedef Çakmak, advisor to the mayor of Beşiktaş, and Boysan Yakar, advisor to the mayor of Şişli, are the first openly gay people to advance to these positions. Yakar made news when he was physically assaulted at the municipal building: “No one can kick us, LGBTI individuals, out of the municipality at this point.”

Source: Aydil Durgun, “Bu saatten sonra kimse bizi belediyeden atamaz” (“No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point”). Milliyet.com.tr, 17 January 2015, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/-bu-saatten-sonra-kimse-bizi/pazar/haberdetay/18.01.2015/2000113/default.htm

Sedef Çakmak and Boysan Yakar have been involved in the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex) struggle for years. I crossed paths with them for the first time before the Pride March in 2013. In the same year, I met with Boysan again; this time through the LGBTI Political Representation and Participation Platform that they launched before the local elections. In the elections, they had already started seeing the benefits of the platform. Boysan was a candidate for nomination as a city councilor for the district of Şişli, and Sedef, for Beşiktaş. Boysan made it to the reserve list and Sedef seemed to have made it all the way to the council, but it fell through, and she currently remains as the first reserve candidate. Throughout this lengthy process, Hayri İnönü, the mayor of Şişli, and Murat Hazinedar, the mayor of Beşiktaş, must have been so pleased with their work that they appointed them as their advisors.

-bu-saatten-sonra-kimse-bizi-belediyeden-atamaz--5203553

Boysan and Sedef now hold the highest public office held by openly gay individuals in Turkey. This is a big achievement in a country like Turkey, and as they emphasize strongly, it is the result of a long fight for which they made big sacrifices.

I met with Boysan and Sedef to discuss what they have been doing since they assumed office. Boysan also talked for the first time about the physical assault he experienced at the municipal building.

It is clear why you would like to be in the political arena. But why did municipal governments and parties want to reach out to the LGBTI movement? Why now and not before?

Sedef Çakmak: Honestly, I believe that it has to do with our determination. We had been thinking genuinely that our party had to adopt LGBTI politics. To speak about CHP in particular, there have been a number of MPs in the recent past who advocated for LGBTI rights. They have paved the way for us. The party was able to think positively about LGBTI candidates thanks to the LGBTI discussions they introduced into the party’s agenda.

Boysan Yakar: There is something that both of us experienced. After our membership to the party went through, they told us about the displeasure of not having had dealt with this subject before.

Sedef Ç.: They said, “We should have come to you, not you to us.”

Boysan Y.: This is how politics works in Turkey: if you’re not there, your rights are not there either.

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KESK Union Co-president: All norms should be radically shaken!

The 3rd Symposium against Discrimination brought the Confederation of Public Workers’ Union (KESK), Education and Science Workers’ Union (Egitim-Sen) and Cyprus Turkish Teachers’ Union (KTOS) together.

Source: Hakan Ö., “KESK Union Co-president: All norms should be radically shaken!”, kaosGL.org, 17 December 2014, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=18273

Kaos GL Association’s Symposium Against Discrimination took place last weekend in Ankara. Held at Tum Bel-Sen (Trade Union for All Workers of Municipalities and Local Administration Services) Conference Hall, the symposium spread the message that “LGBTI rights are trade union rights”.

The session on union experiences in Turkey and Northern Cyprus was moderated by Turkan Karagoz from Izmir Egitim-Sen Branch No. 2 LGBTI Commission. Below are the highlights from the session’s speakers.

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LGBTI rights are trade union rights!

Unionists from eight countries and representatives from LGBTI organizations met in Ankara this weekend for the Kaos GL symposium.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “LGBTI rights are trade union rights!”, kaosGL.org, 16 December 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/page.php?id=18255

The 3rd Symposium Against Discrimination that was organized by Kaos GL Association spread the message that “LGBTI rights are trade union rights!”

Activists joined in the budget protest on Saturday, mobilized by the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions (DISK) and the Confederation of Public Workers’ Union (KESK), asking for a “budget for people, rather than palaces.”

20141213_101526

“LGBTI people are subjected to self-censorship at workplace”

The 3rd Symposium against Discrimination was opened by Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI rights, via a video message.

Lunacek emphasized that the European Union’s chapters 23 and 24 should be opened in accession negotiations with Turkey, which focus on judiciary and fundamental rights, and justice, freedom and security.

Stating that laws are not enough to tackle discrimination, Lunacek stressed that LGBTI people are subjected to self-censorship in the workplace.

“How come a police officer can be fired based on his sexual orientation in 2014 in Turkey?” asked Lunacek, pointing at the importance of heterosexual allies in the fight for LGBTI equality. Below are some highlights from the sessions of the symposium.

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IMC TV Statement on Demishevich’s Firing

Source: “İMC TV’den açıklama” (“IMC TV Statement”), IMC TV, September 16, 2014. http://www.imctv.com.tr/2014/09/16/imc-tvden-aciklama

Given the claims circulating in certain news sites and social media upon our parting ways with Michelle Demishevich, we feel the need to clarify the issue.

Our decision to stop working with Michelle Demishevich has nothing to do with “red lipstick and inappropriate attire” as is claimed. Demishevich’s claim that she has not been sent out to the field with assignments for the past 7 months is not true. She has regularly been given assignments since she began working with us.

The main reason that has led to her departure is her failure to abide by the work discipline and her continuing to do so despite being warned. We have received many complaints from people who have acted as sources for her news reports about quarrels they have had with her. These complaints have been relayed to her and she has been warned as an IMC TV employee not to argue with news sources and cause tension and quarrels. During her final assignment where she was asked to observe the Saturday Mothers[1] protest on September 13, Demischevich argued with the representatives of the Saturday Mothers and uttered inappropriate words to one Saturday mother. This has been the final straw for us. As IMC TV, our sensitivity about the kind of responsibility journalists must apply to everyone regardless of identity and gender.

It is also not true that Michelle Demishevich has been warned about her attire and behavior in the institution. We expected her to show responsibility and integrity while she worked for us and we expect her to do so after her departure from IMC TV.

Footnotes:

[1] Reportedly inspired by the Mothers’ of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, Saturday Mothers are a group of mothers who have been protesting disappearances in custody and political murders every saturday in the Galatasaray Square of Istanbul since 1990s. (Sources: a, b)

‘Red lipstick’ crisis at IMC TV

Source: “İMC TV’de ‘kırmızı ruj’ krizi” (“‘Red lipstick’ crisis at IMC TV”), Pembe Hayat, 16 September 2014, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=505

A trans employee of IMC TV, known for the news she covers on LGBT issues, has been sacked by her boss. The ‘red lipstick’ crisis, which had led to a protest by Turkish Airlines flight attendants, was cited among the reasons for the termination of Michelle Demishevich Kurt’s employment contract. Along with Michelle’s attire, her “attitude and conduct” constituted justification for her getting the axe.

miche

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On the Dismissal of Police Officer F.E.: “These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”

Source: Burcu Karakaş. “Bu tür memurlar hemen ayıklanır!” (“These kinds of officers are to be cleaned out immediately!”) Milliyet, 16 June 2014, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/bu-tur-memurlar-hemen-ayiklanir–gundem-1897738/

Police officer F.E. had been dismissed from office with a disciplinary investigation because he is gay. When he went to court to amend the decision, he received the following answer from the Ministry of Internal Affairs: “The law foresees that these kinds of officers are to be immediately cleaned out!”

Police officer F.E. was subjected to disciplinary investigation because he is gay and the investigation resulted in his removal from office. He went to the court to appeal the decision. His suit was rejected by every court that he applied to. Upon his appeal to the Council of State, he received a written response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Deputy Legal Advisor. The statement included scandalous phrases. One Ministry official stated the following: “It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage people’s confidence in the administration. The law aims to prevent these kinds of developments and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and thus eliminated from the instruments of administration.” Even though the Council of State Investigation Judge wrote a dissenting opinion noting the right to “private life,” F.E.’s plea was overruled by majority voting.

“Embarrassing actions”

In 2009, there was a denunciation against Istanbul police officer F.E. with allegations that he kept child pornography. The police raided his house based on the allegations, which turned out to be false. It was decided that there was a lack of grounds for legal action. However, certain documents were found on F.E.’s computer, which pointed to the fact that he is gay. This resulted in a disciplinary investigation on his behalf. The investigation ended with the Ministry of Internal Affairs High Disciplinary Commission ruling for F.E.’s removal from civil service due to the charge of “acting in shameful and embarrassing ways that do not agree with the qualities of civil service.” Upon this decision, the police officer went to the 8th Administrative Court in Istanbul to demand that the decision be reversed. The court maintained that the ruling was within legislation and rejected F.E.’s appeal.

After this rejection, F.E. appealed to the Council of State. The 12th Department of the Council of State studied and rejected F.E.’s appeal eight months ago, thereby approving the decision of his removal from office. At this time, F.E.’s lawyer Fırat Söyle took the appeal back to the 12th Department of the Council of State with a request to revise the decision.

Council of State Investigation Judge Şevket Polat argued that the actions, which resulted in F.E.’s removal from office, were to be considered within the framework of “private life” in accordance with the 20th article of the Constitution as well as the 8th Article of the European Convention on Human Rights. Polat thus put forth that these actions did not constitute a disciplinary breach and advised for an issue of stay order. However, members of the department unanimously rejected the judge’s request with the justification that “the reasoning presented did not constitute due grounds for a stay order.”

“He lives with a woman who is of legal age”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs delivered a statement in response to the appeal about revising the decision. The statement included the justifications for why F.E. had to be removed from office. The Ministry Deputy Legal Advisor Adnan Türkdamar authored the statement, which explains that there were times when F.E. shared the same living quarters with two men who are known to be gay. Also, F.E.’s living together with a woman was described as a “shameful and embarrassing action.”

The Ministry responded with the following in relation to the discrimination appeal: “The law aims for civil service to be carried out by credible, trustworthy and socially prestigious agents. It is without a doubt that if civil services are run by officers who are less than reputable, this would damage individuals’ confidence in the administration and result in undesirable developments in the relations between individuals and the administration. As such, the law aims to prevent such a development and foresees that those who are responsible are removed from civil service and that these kinds of officers are eliminated from the instruments of administration.”

Gay Police Trial Begins

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Eşcinsel Polis Davası Başladı” (“Gay Police Trial Begins,”) Bianet.org, 8 May 2014, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/155528-escinsel-polis-davasi-basladi

The trial of police officer Osman, who was fired from the police force for being gay, has started. Observers from Human Rights Watch, SPoD LGBTI and Lambdaistanbul are attending the trial.

The trial of police officer Osman, who was fired from the force for being gay, started today.

After working as a police officer for eight years, Osman was fired from the force on the grounds of “committing a disgraceful crime” following an investigation process which took place after a revealing e-mail sent to the law enforcement agency exposed his sexual orientation. Osman talked about what he lived through on Bianet.

The trial of stay of execution against Osman’s dismissal from the profession took place today. Observers from Human Rights Watch, SPoD, LGBTI and Lambdaistanbul are attending the trial.

The court confirmed that the sentence would be announced in a month’s time, after the defense argument is raised.

Speaking to Bianet, Osman stated:

“The court will decide in a month. If the ruling is positive, I will return to my profession; if a negative sentence is handed down, I will apply to the State Council and continue fighting.”

“I don’t think my sexual orientation hinders me from doing my job. I wouldn’t mix my private life and my work anyway. I will be a policeman.”

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

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

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

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

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

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The Topic of Sex Work: Still a Breaking Point

Source: Umut Güner, “Seks İşçiliği Meselesi, Hala Bir Kırılma Noktası,” (“The Topic of Sex Work: Still a Breaking Point,”) kaosGL.org, 15 January 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=15601 

The People’s Democracy Party, Şişli Municipal Council pre-candidate Şevval Kılıç evaluated the topic of sex workers’ demands in regards to their profession, health and security problems, and the importance of creating employment opportunities for the trans community.

sevval_kilic

What kind of problems are sex workers experiencing in Turkey? In other words, can you please describe the concept of “Sex workers’ civil rights issues”?

Even though sex work looks like it is regulated in our legal system, the majority of sex workers fall outside the registered sex work industry and this subgroup is left open to illicitness and exploitation. The law, instead of protecting sex workers from exploitation and mistreatment, criminalizes them. As a result, discrimination against sex workers is being fostered. I think the only way that sex workers can benefit from democratic rights is if sex work is considered as a legitimate form of employment. The increasing trend in religious conservatism is another threat, because sex outside of marriage is considered adultery according to [Islamic] religion, and this especially angers the conservatives. Although they cannot call this adultery as easily, they oppose sex work as it is against morals or they consider all sex workers as victims. This negative image that is formed around sex work blocks both the recognition of sex work as a form of employment and the process of seeking civil rights. Even amongst many leftist, feminist, rights and labor groups, the topic of sex work is still a breaking point.

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