European Court of Human Rights

LGBTI NEWS TURKEY’s Summary of Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Turkey

LGBTI NEWS TURKEY submitted this document at the Core Group Luncheon Hosted by the European Union for LGBTI activists in New York on 9 December 2013. The same document has been serviced to the United Nations Press Office for International Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Violations in Turkey and LGBTI People

  • Violations of human rights in Turkey are well documented: During the 2013 Gezi demonstrations, 5 protestors were killed, more than 8,000 people were injured. Unofficial detentions and arbitrary arrests were recorded.
  • Turkey has one of the world’s worst records in press freedom: Data from October 2013 puts the number of imprisoned journalists at 65 for allegedly aiding terrorism and coup attempts. The trial of Hrant Dink’s murder is pending since 2007. Gag orders are widespread and media highly biased.
  • Though a wide-range of individuals and groups have faced rights violations, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex) people in Turkey have long been one of the most obvious targets due to deep-seated social and political prejudices that almost naturalize and render invisible some blatant forms of discrimination.
  • These violations occur in almost total disregard of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is binding for Turkey under international law. ECHR also takes priority over domestic law, put in motion by Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution.

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The Rights Violations Against LGBT People: Selected Case Analyses

Source: Sosyal Politikalar, Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği. (Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) LGBT Hak İhlalleri: Emsal Dava Analizleri (The Rights Violations Against LGBT People: Selected Case Analyses.) Istanbul: Punto Baskı Çözümleri, 2013. Available at: http://www.spod.org.tr/turkce/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/emsal-dava-analizleri-son1.pdf   

The Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association has been working in the field of access to law and justice since it was founded two years ago. We have organized educational workshops on LGBT rights for lawyers in order to strengthen LGBT people’s methods of accessing justice. We have also given legal aid to LGBT people whose rights have been violated. Our other work includes tracking legislation, participating in the New Constitution drafting process, and pursuing selected cases.

This report includes case summaries and analyses of SPoD’s selected cases. The selection has been made according to the LGBT public’s key issues. Cases based on the frequent violations of LGBT people’s right to life, work, and housing have been chosen. Emphasis has been placed on joining cases as joint plaintiffs while working with lawyers, NGOs, and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) for positive results. Furthermore, the media has been lobbied for the selected cases to ensure the flow of correct and effective information to the public and to make sure that victims are not doubly victimized by the media’s homophobic/transphobic language. A legal battle has been waged against the “hate language” produced by the media in general. Therefore, we did not focus solely on the legal aspects of the cases but also on their background in order to change the biases that lead to rights violations.

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Sexual Rights and Freedoms Cannot Be Eradicated

Source: Sosyal Politikalar, Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği, (Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association,) “Cinsel Haklar ve Özgürlükler Yok Edilemez,” (“Sexual Rights and Freedoms Cannot Be Eradicated,”) http://www.spod.org.tr/turkce/cinsel-haklar-ve-ozgurlukler-yok-edilemez/

As the LGBTI/Q movement, we have been working to protect and increase LGBTI people’s rights and freedoms for the last 20 years. We know that the LGBTI/Q movement has reached an important point through this struggle but also know that the state has not established any protective legal measures to secure LGBTI people’s rights during the 11 years under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

To the contrary, there have been closure cases against LGBTI associations during the AKP rule. However, the closure cases were rejected through European Union and European Court of Human Rights precedents. Therefore, the AKP government legally lost its struggle against LGBTI associations. Nevertheless, the LGBTI/Q associations’ legal demands have not been included in any law passed during the the AKP’s 11 years in power. The legal rights of LGBT people have been completely ignored.

Along with this, the AKP government continued to harass LGBTI people. The AKP’s former Minister of State responsible for Women and Family Affairs, Selma Aliye Kavaf, declared homosexuality to be a disease. In 2013, the AKP rejected the main opposition’s parties motion to establish an investigative commission for LGBTI people. While explaining the AKP’s policies on sexuality, MP Türkan Dağoğlu, reiterated that homosexuality is a disease and once again declared LGBTI people to be sick.

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Press Release by LGBTI Organizations on the “Red Notice” for Pınar Selek

Pınar Selek is a sociologist, feminist, anti-militarist, and author. She has been studying, publishing, and working on the rights of the oppressed and vulnerable communities such as homeless children, sex workers, sexual minorities and in particular, transgender people, Romani people, and the Kurds. Several books by Selek have been published in Turkish, German, and French. She is also one of the founding editors of the Turkish feminist journal Amargi. Selek has been prosecuted for over 15 years in Turkey in connection to an explosion in the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul on July 9, 1998, which killed 7 people and injured more than 120. Tried and acquitted of all charges on three occasions (in 2006, 2008, and 2011), her most recent acquittal was amended in November 2012 by the Istanbul High Criminal Court Twelfth Chamber, which, with no new evidence, sentenced her to aggravated life imprisonment on January 24, 2013. Her lawyers have appealed the verdict and declared plans to bring her case before the European Court of Human Rights. Selek currently lives in Strasbourg, France and is pursuing her doctoral thesis at Strasbourg University.

For more information, please see http://www.pinarselek.com/public/page.aspx?id=241

Those Who Seek Freedom Are Punished: The Case of Pınar Selek

The headline “Red notice issued for Pınar Selek” circulated on news sites on August 27, 2013. A close reading of the news reveals that the Istanbul High Criminal Court Chamber 12 has applied to the Ministry of Justice for a red notice request for Pınar Selek in spite of the annotation put by the chief justice.

The horror continues… Sociologist Pınar Selek is still being punished for asking the questions nobody dared to ask during the 90’s when there was no movement towards peace. As our country’s agenda was being determined by those who chose wars and death, one sociologist stood against guns with her questions and pointed to the other side where non-violence exists. Selek is still being targeted for this stance. Selek has been purposefully selected and subjected to a harsh judicial treatment because of her works on Kurds.

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Court Finds French Book “Indecent”

Source: “Yargıtay, Fransızca kitabı ‘müstehcen’ buldu,” (“Court Finds French Book “Obscene”,”) Radikal, 6 August 2013,  http://www.radikal.com.tr/turkiye/yargitay_fransizca_kitabi_mustehcen_buldu-1145084

The owner of the publishing house “Sel Yayıncılık” İrfan Sancı and the translator İsmail Yerguz were put on indecency trial for publishing and translating the book “The Exploits of a Young Don Juan” written by Guillaume Apollinaire.

Istanbul, 2nd Court of First Instance arrived at a verdict to acquit, since the book was a literary work and does not constitute crime. Then the verdict was appealed and the file was seen at the 14th Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals. The Penal Chamber denounced the verdict of the Court of First Instance unanimously, dropped the decision, and requested the defendants to stand trial for 6 to 10 years imprisonment.

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