IGLHRC

Human Rights Coalition Calls for Government Response to Rising Threats and Harassment of LGBTI People in Turkey

A coalition of Turkish and international human rights organizations today strongly criticized the Turkish government for failing to protect the safety and security of LGBTI individuals, who are facing rising threats and harassment, including death threats and the reported sexual assault of a community leader. The coalition includes LGBTI News Turkey as well as the Kaos GL Association; the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA), and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). More information can be found here.

After the HDP, CHP candidates also sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge

Istanbul 2nd district candidates Melda Onur, Enis Berberoğlu, İnan Güney, and Gül Yüksel visited SPoD LGBTI before the June 7 general elections. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidates signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge after the women candidates of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who declared “We are the Rainbow.”

SPoD LGBTI representatives, who have started the “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign for the active inclusion of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making processes and who drafted the LGBTI Rights Pledge, asked candidates for parliament to advocate for LGBTI rights in the Parliament.

Melda Onur emphasized the importance of the presence of LGBTIs in the Parliament with their open identities and said, “We have worked to bring LGBTI issues to the Parliament. We will continue to do so after the elections.” Enis Berberoğlu stated that they will work to get more CHP candidates to sign the Pledge and said, “The CHP’s 2015 Election Manifesto declared that it will work against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As you know the manifesto includes the sentence that we will work against all discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through legislation and sanctions. This is a fundamental human rights issue.”

In the coming days, candidates from other cities and parties are expected to sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge.

(more…)

The HDP Istanbul candidates sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge

SPoD LGBTI is circulating an LGBTI Rights Pledge, part of the “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign, for signatures in the run-up to the June 7th parliamentary elections in Turkey. The first signatories to the Pledge are HDP’s women candidates who proclaimed “We are the Rainbow.”

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections to be held on June 7th, the Istanbul based LGBTI advocacy group SPoD (Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) is circulating the LGBTI Rights Pledge to be signed by parliamentary candidates. Representatives of SPoD LGBTI drafted the LGBTI Rights Pledge as part of their “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign. The campaign was started in February in order to demand the active inclusion of LGBTI individuals in decision and policy making processes. SPoD representatives visited the HDP [People’s Democracy Party], whose female candidates for Istanbul signed the Pledge. The candidates had previously included a section in their election manifesto called “We are the Rainbow.”

Are you ready to defend LGBTI rights?

The participants of the meeting, which was held in the HDP Istanbul Province Building, included Istanbul 2nd District parliamentary candidates Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Gülsüm Ağaoğlu, İnciser Alptekin, Elif Sırlıoğlu, Istanbul 3rd District parliamentary candidates Hülya İmak and Elif Bulut as well as  representatives from SPoD.

SPoD LGBTI Political Representation Field Coordinator Sezen Yalçın underlined the importance of the section “We are the Rainbow” in the HDP’s election manifesto for the LGBTI and asked the parliamentary candidates: “Are you ready to defend the LGBTI rights?” Lawyer Filiz Kerestecioğlu, the HDP candidate from the 2nd District, read out loud the LGBTI Rights Pledge and said: “We became candidates in order to carry the voices of the street and their struggles into the parliament.”

Gülsüm Ağaoğlu described the HDP election manifesto as a poem of human rights rather than a mere promise, and stated that, as a party open to all the colors of the rainbow, it is their goal to implement the demands outlined in the Pledge. Imak said, “When ‘we’ are in the parliament, you will be there as well. We are not your representatives, but are the voices of all those who have been victimized.” Bulut, Alptekin and Sırlıoğlu signed the Pledge and added that it is their wish to see a political environment where everyone can coexists while enjoying their rights and their identities without the need for such a pledge.

SPoD’s eyes are on the parliamentary representatives

SPoD LGBTI calls on the parliamentary candidates to embrace a political position that guarantees the LGBTI rights and freedoms and will share with the public the names of  parliamentary candidates who sign the pledge. If the candidates get elected in the upcoming parliamentary election, SPoD will hold them accountable to their pledge through monitoring their work in the new legislative period.

(more…)

CHP’s Murat Karayalçın: “Number of parliamentarians supporting LGBTI rights should increase”

SPoD LGBTI’s “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere” campaign began with the thought “You don’t have rights if you are not present!” and representatives visited the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul President Murat Karayalçın following their visit to the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Istanbul Co-Spokesperson Ayşe Erdem. Visits to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Justice and Development Party (AKP), etc are to follow.  

chp_meclistelgbti_gorusme2

Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) has started visiting political parties to inform them of their “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign which aims to make LGBTI rights visible in the general elections. SPoD LGBTI’s first visit was to the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) where they met with Istanbul Co-Spokesperson Ayşe Erdem. Following this visit, they met the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul President Murat Karayalçın.

LGBTI activist Sedef Çakmak who ran in the 2014 local elections for membership in the CHP’s Beşiktaş Municipality Assembly with her lesbian identity and who was recently seated in the assembly talked about how empowering it is to participate in politics without having to hide your identity. She told Karayalçın, “We started the LGBTI in the Parliament campaign with the thought that you don’t have rights if you are not present. All decision-makers need to understand that being LGBTI is not something that needs to be hidden, shamed, treated, or annihilated. We need to actively participate in politics with our open LGBTI identities in order to dispel the negative outlook existing in society and to put forth laws for LGBTI. Just the existence of individuals who are in politics without hiding their identity will result in a quick reduction of prejudices. Only in this way, a real participatory democracy will bloom in society, in the parliament, and in political parties.

SPoD LGBTI representatives aim to start a structure in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey similar to the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights. They emphasized the importance of cooperation among CHP parliamentarians who support LGBTI rights with parliamentarians from different parties. The representatives said they would like CHP’s candidates for parliament to sign the “LGBTI Rights Agreements” and asked for Karayalçın’s support to meet candidates for parliament from Istanbul.

Murat Karayalçın pointed to the importance of the Motion to Investigate LGBTI Problems, which was signed by many CHP parliamentarians. He emphasized the necessity of an increase in parliamentarians who support LGBTI rights. Referring to the “purple flag” project introduced by CHP’s Vice President Veli Ağbaba that awards municipalities which fulifll gender equality criteria, Karayalçın said the practice should also include LGBTI equality. He said, “The speeches of CHP parliamentarians who rally for LGBTIs also support us. We wish for an increase in the number of parliamentarians who openly support our LGBTI friends.

The Political Representation Coordinator Sezen Yalçın of SPoD LGBTI, which has been working on rights violations against LGBTI since 2011, informed Karayalçın of the LGBTI in the Parliament campaign. She said they aim to strengthen the equality and freedom movement through political representation and participation for LGBTIs who are not recognized as equal citizens and whose rights to life, employment, housing, health care, and education are ignored. Yalçın talked about their work on social policy for LGBTIs equal citizenship, to ensure fundamental rights and to combat discrimination. She emphasized the importance of political advocacy for rights movements. Yalçın talked about their annual Politics School which brings together activists, politicians, and academics since 2012. Yalçın also stressed that they maintain an equal distance to all political parties and that the campaign would run independent from parties.

For news and interview requests:

MEHTAP DOĞAN

Media Partner İletişim Danışmanlığı

Media Director

Hasanpaşa Mahallesi Alibey Sokak Çınar Apt No:2 Kat 2 Daire 9 Kadıköy/İSTANBUL

G: 535 740 84 98 M: mehtapdogan@mpiletisim.com

LGBTI NEWS TURKEY is the official translation source for SPoD LGBTI’s “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign, which is endorsed by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).  

SPoD LGBTI’s “In School, at Work, in the Parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” and Demands

SPoD LGBTI, 23 February 2015

As lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) individuals living in Turkey, we experience social prejudice and discriminatory policies due to our sexual orientation and/or gender identity in access to health care, housing, education, employment and other areas of life.

Our country’s constitution and laws either ignore or fuel discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Despite international agreements Turkey is party to, our country still does not recognize LGBTIs as equal citizens.

Hate crimes and violence that target LGBTI individuals rise every day. Social pressure and discrimination lead many of our friends to suicide.

The LGBTI rights movement of more than twenty years in Turkey continues its work to ensure that LGBTIs live in a just society as equal and free individuals and the ability to exist in all aspects of social life freely. As part of this movement, we believe that the solution to LGBTIs problems can only be possible when LGBTIs can use all of their political rights, including the right to vote and be elected with their open LGBTI identity.

We think the presence of LGBTIs in politics carries great importance to actualize LGBTIs right to life, health care, housing, and employment.

We see the 10% election threshold in Turkey’s election system as one of most fundamental obstacles to democratic and just representation. Like other disadvantaged groups facing discrimination because of the lack of justice in representation, we argue that the direct participation of LGBTIs in decision-making mechanisms is a non-negotiable part of democratization.

As the general elections approach, we have started our “In school, at work, in the parliament!” election campaign to involve LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making processes. Our demands from candidates for parliament membership, political parties, and party leaders are:

  • Policy suggestions for LGBTI rights and freedoms should be part of election campaigns.
  • All impediments to LGBTI political participation should be lifted. The necessary precautions must be taken to ensure that LGBTIs serve in all levels of the political establishment with their open LGBTI identity.
  • Steps must be taken to actualize rights-based social policies. Election campaigns should share with the public plans to ensure that LGBTIs have equal access to education, health care, housing, employment, retirement, senior citizens’ rights, income support and other social policies.
  • Steps must be taken to ensure that the new Constitution drafting process be a transparent and participatory one. Approaches to the protection of all human rights, including LGBTI rights, must be shared with the public.
  • Cooperation with the LGBTI movement to actualize LGBTI rights must be established.

LGBTI NEWS TURKEY is the official translation source for SPoD LGBTI’s “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign, which is endorsed by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).  

UPR Submission: “Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey”

“The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.”

The UPR Pre-Session of Turkey will take place on 3 December 2014. This session will allow civil society organisations engaged in the UPR to give their recommendations to Member States. We will be taking the floor to present our joint submission (Kaos GL, LGBTI News Turkey, IGLHRC, ILGA) and to put forth the following recommendations:

  1. Include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in constitutional clauses on equality and non-discrimination, as well as in hate crimes legislation.
  2. Take all administrative measures, both on the 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 individuals in Turkey.
  3. Conduct full and independent investigations into all allegations of harassment, violence, or abuse of LGBT individuals, and prosecute perpetrators.
  4. Monitor, aggregate, and publish data on the number of complaints of violence against members of the LGBT community.
  5. 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.
  6. Provide a comprehensive framework for public school education on sexuality that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
  7. Cease to categorize homosexuality and transsexuality as illnesses of any sort.
  8. 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”.
  9. 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.
  10. Guarantee the freedom of speech and assembly for LGBT community members and their allies.
  11. Provide mandatory training for all personnel working with refugees, asylum-seekers, and temporary guests on UNHCR guidelines regarding LGBT individuals.

Links to our full report:

Turkish: EPI-LGBT

English: UPR-LGBT

UPR Submission by Turkey’s LGBT Organizations

We are excited to be sharing our Universal Periodic Review submission of “Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey” to the United Nations. 

The Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review “has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by October 2011, has reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

The Universal Periodic Review of Turkey

The second-cycle review of Turkey will take place in January-February 2015. While Turkey submits its own State report, Turkey’s civil society organisations is providing their reports on Turkey’s human rights situation. The joint report by the Human Rights Joint Platform highlights Turkey’s failure in applying the accepted recommendations in the first-cycle and human rights violations since 2010. The joint LGBT submission highlights human rights violations of LGBT individuals in Turkey since 2010.

Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey

This report is a joint submission by Kaos GL Association, LGBTI News Turkey, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) (ECOSOC accredited NGO), to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the occasion of the 21st Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. This submission presents human rights violations in Turkey on account of actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. These violations consist of acts of violence against LGBT individuals, discriminatory domestic laws, arbitrary administrative measures, and hostile approach of State officials towards the LGBT community.

In preparing this submission, we relied on documentation and data from the following sources: LGBT organizations and allies in Turkey; reports by national and international human rights NGOs; the European Commission’s Annual Progress Report; Concluding Observations of the UN Human Rights Committee’s review of Turkey’s compliance with the ICCPR; recommendations from Turkey’s first-cycle UPR; Turkey’s Constitution and recent legislation; and media reports of violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals.

Please see the full report here: UPR: Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey