Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ

Together We Will Beat Homophobia in Sports

“Violence Stories from Turkey” is a project by Intercultural Research Association that aims to archive and document the phenomenon of violence in Turkey; to prevent events of violence and their victims from “becoming ordinary” and “turning into statistics”; to investigate the conditions of violence in order to make future projections; and to bring together NGOs, civil society, and advocates for the defense of victims’ rights. The project publishes photographs and interviews with victims or witnesses in a simple and flexible format that allows the interviewees to express themselves.

Source: Doğu Eroğlu, “Sporda Homofobiyi Beraber Yeneceğiz,” (Together We Will Beat Homophobia in Sports,”) Türkiye’den Şiddet Hikayeleri, 5 May 2013, http://www.siddethikayeleri.com/sporda-homofobiyi-birlikte-yenecegiz/

Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ, exempt from military service because of his homosexuality, could not continue his job as a referee due to one item on the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Directive, which states: “People exempt from military service because of medical problems cannot work as referees.”

I played football for 10 years, I was a referee for 14 years, and I hosted radio and television shows for years. The events that put me in the public eye and prevented me from working as a referee started with the mandatory military service. Ever since I was a child, I always had question marks about the military service. I questioned why such a practice exists, why all these young people are forced to wear those uniforms and waste their times. People are taken for the service at an age when they decide what to do with their lives and all their dreams are shattered. In brief, I would not have served in the military even if I were heterosexual.

How did you experience the process of mandatory military service?

I was living in Trabzon, I was not running away but I had not taken any steps regarding the military service. The trouble started in 2007 when I received a document stating that I have to report to service. I started searching for ways to get a report that states that I am ineligible for military service. I went to the recruitment office, got examined, and told the doctor that my sexual orientation was different. I was sent to Erzincan Military Hospital but the doctors there said: “We cannot give you a report. You have to go to service and get examined in the hospital of your platoon.” Approximately one year later, in October 2008, I decided to go to the military service.

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