LGBT rights in Turkey

Deputy Prime Minister Arınç criticizes Istanbul Pride: “They get completely naked in broad daylight”

Source: DHA video, “Bülent Arınç: “Güpegündüz çırılçıplak hale gelip…”,” (“Bülent Arınç: “They get completely naked in broad daylight”,”) CNNTurk, 2 July 2015, http://www.cnnturk.com/video/turkiye/bulent-arinc-gupegunduz-cirilciplak-hale-gelip

bulenta00

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç answered journalists’ questions at the AK Party (AKP) Mardin Headquarters.

Arınç said,

Unfortunately, I am ashamed to say this in a place where our lady sisters are present but some people turn this into honor, meaning people in different sexual orientations. These things are not liked in our belief, our traditions, our customs and mores, and our society’s structure.

But it is extremely saddening that they get completely naked in broad daylight, challenging and having fun in the middle of Istanbul, and unfortunately, parliamentarians from the CHP and HDP supporting them.

I know that there are women and men parliamentarians, 5-10 parliamentarians from the CHP, who joined that march and who supported it. I submit this to our nation’s discretion. If our nation likes this and applauds it, it can continue to follow them. If our nation sees these as wrong, criticizes it, and beyond criticizing, says what comes to their mind, do the necessary thing at the ballot box.

LGBTI News Turkey Note: Please also see Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s statements on LGBT at the United Nations on 27 January 2015.

There is no discriminatory provision against LGBTs in our laws.

The principle that everyone is equal before the law without distinction as to language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, sect and other such grounds is organised by the Constitution’s Article 10. Due to the expression “and other such grounds” in the aforementioned article, types of discriminations are not limited but rather exemplified, and there is no question that other types of discrimination are left outside the scope. That there is no special regulation for LGBTs does not mean that this group’s rights are not legally guaranteed.

On the other hand, pursuant to our Constitution’s Article 90, the international agreements we ratify are [considered] law. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence -Istanbul Convention-, which we ratified without reservations, includes provisions which state that there can be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In our country, like in all democratic states of law, perpetrators who commit murder and acts of violence against individuals of LGBT and all kinds of hate crimes are identified, the necessary investigations are started in order to bring them to justice, and the process is conducted by legal authorities scrupulously. The claims that the reasoning of unjust provocation constitute a routine in the reduction of penal responsibility do not match with the real situation that is revealed by tangible court decisions.

Turkey’s LGBTI File Criminal Complaints for Attacks Against Istanbul Pride- Hear Them Out!

Turkey LGBTI

“We are here today to make a complaint against the Governor of Istanbul, Minister of Interior Affairs, General Chief of the Police in Istanbul and Istanbul police who attacked the protestors at the gay pride on 28th of June”, says lawyer and LGBTI rights advocate Yasemin Öz. Behind her looms the giant complex of the Caglayan Justice Palace. Though LGBTI activists doubt that the perpetrators of the violence against Istanbul Pride will be brought to justice, they vow to use every legal mechanism at their disposal.

Pride is a special day for Turkey’s LGBTI, who regularly face discrimination in all aspects of social life, if they are not already victims of hate crimes. University student and drag queer Madır Öktiş says, “Pride is the day I can express my pride with almost a hundred thousand people like me and it’s the only day I can, you know, I can feel that solidarity, that strong”.

Madır was getting ready to join the parade when they heard that police attacked pride-goers. They wore a pom pom hat and a hundred per cent gorgeous t-shit and “A police officer told me that I could not walk in with that outfit”.

Until this year, twelve Istanbul Pride Parades passed without incident. LGBTI activist and academic Volkan Yilmaz says, “I wasn’t expecting any attacks on Sunday because even after Gezi protests we could make the march happen so after the attacks, actually, I was a bit surprised and I started to think about why it happened now and it turned out to be that it’s about Ramadan month”.

Last year’s Pride also coincided with the month of Ramadan when an estimated ninety thousand people marched without police interference. But this year, there was a significant rise in the visibility of the LGBTI rights movement and a corollary increase in hate speech from both public officials and conservative media.

Veteran activist Şevval Kılıç says, “this is a big step, that we are threatening the system, we are a movement, a big huge movement, and of course some people are afraid of this, some people are afraid of changing, going forward”.

Volkan thinks the attacks may have happened “because of media provocations and the new governor of Istanbul is a bit more conservative than the other guy and this happened this year”.

At least 78 people were wounded in the police intervention against Pride. One person is in risk of losing an eye. The Governor stated that proportionate force was used against the demonstrators after they refused to disperse.

Boysan Yakar, a prominent LGBTI activist and advisor to Sisli Municipality Mayor, was among the wounded and filed a criminal complaint for battery charges. He says, “I was beaten by the police while I was trying to stop the violence of power at the very first beginning of the pride parade and at that moment we had the support of the MPs from two different parties, HDP and CHP, and when we were trying to stop the violence, police attacked many activists”.

Şevval takes issue with the Governor’s statement of proportionality. She says, “they just directly attacked us with plastic bullets, you know, there are thousands of ways that you can dismiss the crowd but they choose to attack us with plastic bullets”.

So far, 4 LGBTI associations and 68 individuals filed criminal complaints. They are filing criminal charges (PDF-Turkish) against Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk, Istanbul Governor Vasıp Şahin, Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok, and police officers involved in the attacks for the following crimes:

  • Offenses of Bodily Harm (Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Articles 86-87)
  • Torture (TCK Articles 94-95)
  • Torment (TCK Article 96)
  • Ill-treatment
  • Violence (TCK Article 108)
  • Exceeding the Limits of Authorization for Use of Force (TCK Article 256)
  • Misconduct in Office (TCK Article 257)
  • Executing Illegal Mandatory Provision and Order of the Supervisor (TCK Article 24)
  • Restriction of freedom of belief, conception, conviction (TCK Article 115)
  • Restriction of Right to Meetings and Demonstration Marches (Law No: 2911)
  • Offenses against Freedom (TCK Article 109)

As one of the seven lawyers submitting the complaints, Yasemin Öz says, “I’m not hopeful about the Turkish state’s courts, especially when it comes to the ministers, police chiefs, and governors but we are hopeful about the constitutional court or otherwise the European Court of Human Rights”

But despite the lack of trust in the Turkish judicial system, Volkan Yılmaz says, “We have to do it to push the legal process a bit further”.

There was global outcry against the banning of Istanbul Pride and the violence that ensued. Boysan appreciates the global support and says, “It’s great to see that thousands of people are protesting right now throughout the country, from Korea, from Japan till the United Kingdom and United States as well and this is not only happening in the level of citizens. This is happening in the very high levels as well. Government to government it’s happening right now. It’s so important. And it’s great to see such solidarity throughout the universe”.

Yasemin calls for continued support for LGBTI in Turkey and the world. “We want the world to know that our basic right to free assembly has been violated by our own state so as the LGBT people and their friends, we have to unite where there is a violence against LGBT people because no state volunteers to protect LGBT rights. Many states in the world criminalize homosexuality and transsexuality”.

Tired but determined, Boysan says, “We are here, we exist, and they have to get over it”. This is how everyone, gathered in front of the Caglayan Justice Palace to seek justice, feels. They chant, “Gays will not be silent, they will not be silent, will not be silent”.

Zeynep Bilginsoy/ LGBTI News 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/

22 MPs in Turkey’s New Parliament Will Support LGBTI Rights

64 candidates for parliament signed SPoD LGBTI’s LGBTI Rights Pledge ahead of the elections and promised to protect LGBT rights. The number of pledgers are expected to increase. 22 of the pledgers have won seats in the Parliament.

The candidates below will be entering Turkey’s 25th Parliament. They have pledged to work for LGBTI rights in Turkey.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

  1. Asiye Kolçak, MP for Bursa from HDP
  2. Çilem Öz, MP for Mersin from HDP
  3. Erdal Ataş, MP for Istanbul from HDP
  4. Filiz Kerestecioğlu, MP for Istanbul from HDP
  5. Ali Haydar Konca, MP for Kocaeli from HDP
  6. Remzi Özgökçe, MP for Van from HDP
  7. Selami Özyaşar, MP for Van from HDP

Republican People’s Party (CHP)

  1. Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  2. İlhan Cihaner, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  3. Aykut Erdoğdu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  4. Dursun Çiçek, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  5. Didem Engin, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  6. Sezgin Tanrıkulu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  7. Şafak Pavey, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  8. Zeynep Altıok, MP for Izmir from CHP
  9. Musa Çam, MP for Izmir from CHP
  10. Selin Sayek Böke, MP for Izmir from CHP
  11. Selina Doğan, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  12. Enis Berberoğlu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  13. Aylin Nazlıaka, MP for Ankara from CHP
  14. Onursal Adıgüzel, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  15. Özcan Purçu, MP for Izmir from CHP

Please see the full list of pledgers below.

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On IDAHOT, LGBTI individuals face countless problems in Turkey

May 17th, the day homosexuality was removed from the classification “illness”, has come to be celebrated for the last 11 years as the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. Many years have passed since the Declaration of Montreal on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Human Rights, which was published following the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, has called for all nations to recognize this date. Yet, the stigmatization of and discrimination against LGBTIs continue to this day.

This Sunday, May 17th marks the 11th year of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), which was established in order to fight against homophobia and transphobia, to raise the public’s awareness about LGBTIs, to draw attention to rights violations and discrimination, and have their voices be heard. Following the removal of homosexuality from the classification of “illness” by the World Health Organization on May 17th, 1990, and published after the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, which was organized by the UN, the Declaration of Montreal called for all nations to recognize that date and the wide array of rights and freedoms that ought to be secured. Until now, 130 nations did so formally. Yet, unfortunately, even though many years have passed since then, the stigmatization of and discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans continue.

In Turkey, as in many other regions of the world, prejudice and discrimination not only cause LGBTIs to be excluded from health programs and limit their access to health services but also deprive them of the most basic human rights. Furthermore, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity also show themselves in the forms of violence and hate murders. While numerous LGBTIs are massacred in hate murders, many others are forced into making their voices heard through suicide. In the meantime, the government, which refuses to recognize the very reality of LGBTIs, fails to take any legal precautions to protect LGBTIs whom it deprives of basic human rights.

SPoD (Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) has began its journey with the goal of drawing attention to the discrimination against LGBTIs, of showing that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans, and intersex are neither alone nor in the wrong, and of producing stronger solutions to their problems. In preparation of May 17th, the day to protest and struggle against all physical, moral, or symbolic violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, SPoD has compiled the following 24 problems commonly experienced by LGBTIs.

  1. LGBTIs’ existence is defined through concepts such as illness, perversion, sin, immorality, and other terms of negativity and negation. This situation, in turn, pushes LGBTIs into hiding their identities, into acting as that which they are not, into depression, and into thoughts of suicide. Yet, the medical institution defines homosexuality not as an illness but as an expression of human sexual diversity.
  2. Unrecognized and unprotected by the Constitution’s article on equality [Article 10], which fails to specify them by name, cannot benefit from social and economic rights afford to “all citizens.”[1]
  3. Their most basic rights, such as the right to life, to labor, to housing, to health, and to education, are disregarded.
  4. The current government and the pro-government media publicize them to be ill and perverted and target them.
  5. They are subjected to humiliation and verbal and physical harassment and violence.
  6. They are forced into exile to large urban centers in order to be free, to live comfortably, and to be free of social pressure.
  7. They are allowed only in certain regions of the cities.
  8. They are readily evicted from overpriced rental properties.
  9. Because they are not protected as a recognized disadvantaged group [by law], they either cannot find employment or have to endure long periods of unemployment. When they announce their identities or orientations, they are fired, subjected to workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and blackmail.
  10. LGBTIs, who already have limited access to health services, are pushed out of health programs. They have difficulties especially in accessing services related to sexual health.
  11. Sexist, homophobic, and transphobic discourses are deployed in textbooks. LGBTIs who are educators face dismissal under the pretense of acting against public morality or of acting dishonorably.
  12. LGBTIs who lack social security and stable income are clearly targeted more by discrimination and have a difficult time protecting themselves.
  13. While the internal dynamics of hetero relations are not questioned, LGBTIs are always subject to public curiosity [and scrutiny]. Homosexuals are treated as if they were merely sexual beings [2]. Their sexuality is scrutinized and pulled to shreds while they are subjected to absurd and offhand “jokes,” as if such behavior were part of ordinary life.
  14. The lack of the right to establish legal partnerships [civil unions –Trans.] brings with it economic and emotional problems. They are not afforded any of the related rights, including the right to making medical decisions when the spouse gets sick or the right to inheritance if the spouse dies. The state does not provide any legal protections to couples who have been cohabiting for years, even decades. Spouses are obstructed from visiting their partner in the hospital, or even from attending to their partner’s funeral.
  15. They are not legally allowed to adopt children.
  16. The majority of LGBTIs live alone when they become elderlies. Because the state does not produce any protective effort or projects, it is not only more difficult for them to fight against discrimination but they also experience various problems in relation to housing and care. They are once again forced to keep their sexual orientation and gender identity as they age.
  17. A widespread exclusion is experienced by those who are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity in school, at work, at home, on the streets, and in the public sphere.
  18. They cannot benefit as they need from public transportation services due to various prejudices.
  19. In murders of LGBTIs, the murderers either remain unidentified and uninvestigated or enjoy impunity in the judiciary as their sentences are reduced under the pretense of “unjust provocation.” As violence is legitimized, instances of suicides among and of hate crimes against LGBTIs increase.
  20. According to the 2015 Trans Rights Europe Map and Index, Turkey, which demonstrates significant shortcomings in protecting trans people and recognizing gender identity [and gender expression], is 9th highest in the world for the frequency of hate murders against trans individuals. There are countless cases of assault, bodily harm, and murder with LGBTI victims, who are one of the most targeted groups in hate crimes.
  21. The harder it is for LGBTIs to announce their sexual orientation or gender identity, the harder it becomes for them to access the legal system and to bring to the judiciary their struggles. Another important problem is the chaos in the legal system and the vagueness of laws as they relate to LGBTIs. Even bars lack commissions regarding this issue.
  22. Many LGBTIs are subjected to hetero/sexist profanities, insults, and police brutality, with trans people being targeted by such dishonorable conduct the worst.
  23. Lesbians, bisexuals, and trans women are not allowed in shelters when they are subjected to violence. Gays and trans men, on the other hand, do not have any resources they can appeal to when they are subjected to violence.
  24. In situations where their appearance is perceived not to abide by the color of their ID card [3], trans women and men are subjected to various allegations [by law enforcement officers and private security and citizens alike –Trans.], such as “is this yours or is it your sibling’s?” or “did you steal this ID card?”

Mehtap Doğan
Media Director, Media Partnership Communications Consultation
mehtapdogan at 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).

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Deputy PM Bülent Arınç’s Statement on LGBT at the Universal Periodic Review

Bülent Arınç, Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Human Rights, represented Turkey at the Universal Periodic Review on 27 January 2015. The webcast archive of the session can be viewed here.

arinc_epi

In response to questions and recommendations on LGBT rights in Turkey, Arınç said,

There is no discriminatory provision against LGBTs in our laws.

The principle that everyone is equal before the law without distinction as to language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, sect and other such grounds is organised by the Constitution’s Article 10. Due to the expression “and other such grounds” in the aforementioned article, types of discriminations are not limited but rather exemplified, and there is no question that other types of discrimination are left outside the scope. That there is no special regulation for LGBTs does not mean that this group’s rights are not legally guaranteed.

On the other hand, pursuant to our Constitution’s Article 90, the international agreements we ratify are [considered] law. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence -Istanbul Convention-, which we ratified without reservations, includes provisions which state that there can be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In our country, like in all democratic states of law, perpetrators who commit murder and acts of violence against individuals of LGBT and all kinds of hate crimes are identified, the necessary investigations are started in order to bring them to justice, and the process is conducted by legal authorities scrupulously. The claims that the reasoning of unjust provocation constitute a routine in the reduction of penal responsibility do not match with the real situation that is revealed by tangible court decisions.

Translated by LGBTI News Turkey.

İnsan haklarından sorumlu Başbakan Yardımcısı Bülent Arınç’ın 27 Ocak 2015 tarihli Türkiye’nin Evrensel Periyodik İncelemesi’nde LGBT ile ilgili sözleri:

Mevzuatımızda LGBT’lere yönelik ayrımcı bir hüküm bulunmamaktadır.

Dil, ırk, renk, cinsiyet, siyasi düşünce, felsefi inanç, din, mezhep ve benzeri sebeplere ayrım gözetilmeksizin herkesin kanun önünde eşitliği ilkesi anayasanın 10. maddesi ile düzenlenmiştir. Sözkonusu maddede yer alan “ve benzeri sebeplerle” ifadesi sayesinde ayrımcılık türleri sınırlayıcı değil örnekleyici olup, diğer ayrımcılık türlerinin kapsam dışı kalması söz konusu değildir. LGBT’lere yönelik özel bir düzenlemenin olmaması hukuken bu grubun haklarının garanti altına alınmadığı anlamına gelmez.

Diğer tarafta anayasamızın 90. maddesi uyarınca onayladığımız uluslararası anlaşmalar kanun hükmündedir. Çekincesiz olarak taraf olduğumuz Kadına Yönelik Şiddet ve Aile İçi Şiddetin Önlenmesi ve Bunlarla Mücadeleye İlişkin Avrupa Konseyi Sözleşmesi’nde  -İstanbul Sözleşmesi-, cinsel yönelim temelinde ayrımcılık yapılamayacağına ilişkin hükümler de yer almaktadır.

Ülkemizde tüm demokratik hukuk devletlerinde olduğu gibi, LGBT’li bireylere karşı öldürme ve şiddet eylemleri ile her türlü nefret suçlarını işleyen faillerin belirlenerek adalete teslim edilmelerini teminen gerekli tahkikat açılmakta ve süreç adli makamlarca titizlikle yürütülmektedir. Sözkonusu davalarda haksız tahrik gerekçesinin ceza sorumluluğunu azaltan bir rutin teşkil ettiği yönündeki iddialar somut mahkeme kararları ile ortaya çıkan gerçek durumla örtüşmemektedir.

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.

Turkish Ministry of Justice: “We do not do any work on LGBT citizens’ human rights”

The Turkish Ministry of Justice responded to an application to acquire information on LGBT rights: “There is no work on the protection and recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans citizens’ human rights conducted by our Ministry.”

Source: Murat Köylü, “Turkish: ‘Adalet Bakanlığı: LGBT yurttaşların haklarına dair hiçbir faaliyetimiz yok”, (“Turkish Ministry of Justice: We do not do any work on LGBT citizens’ human rights”), Kaosgl.org, December 30, 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18362

An application to acquire information on LGBT rights made in November by the main opposition party’s, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), MP Mahmut Tanal, a member of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, was responded to by the Ministry of Justice.

“There is no work on LGBT citizens’ human rights”

In response to application to acquire information, the Presidency of Education Directorate affiliated to the Ministry of Justice stated “there is no work on the protection and recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans citizens’ human rights conducted by our Ministry. For Ministry personnel at any level, including those working in local bodies, we have not implemented any work so far in order to raise awareness on the issue.”

With reference to the response, concerns regarding the fact that the Ministry has no approach to and given no priority to LGBT citizens, apart from the Ministry’s both internally and externally very much criticized “LGBT prison”policy, were confirmed. This comes despite Turkey’s LGBT citizens, civil society organizations, opposition parties [the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP)] and the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union emphasising how vital it is.

Tanal applied via the Act of Right of Information Acquirement

CHP MP Tanal submitting a parliamentary question “regarding LGBT rights” to the Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdag, brought the same issue to the agenda of the Ministry by applying under the Act of Right of Information Acquirement having considered that most of the opposition parties’ parliamentary questions are left unanswered. According to the Act, the applicant should access the requested information or document in 15 working days. Otherwise it is sent to the supreme board and administrative jurisdiction.

MP Tanal asked the following questions:

  • Is there any work on the recognition and protection of LGBT citizens’ human rights in your Ministry in line with Turkey’s national and international obligations? What kind of work and to what degree are they conducted?
  • Is there any work [on LGBT citizens] for Ministry personnel at any level, including those working in local bodies? What kind of work and in to what degree are they conducted?

Trans activists at the Turkish Parliament: All parties should consider LGBTI rights

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Trans activists at the Turkish Parliament: All parties should consider LGBTI rights,” kaosGL.org, 27 November 2014, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=18069

Binnaz Toprak, an LGBTI ally from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), made a press statement at the Turkish Parliament yesterday to draw attention to trans murders. The demand for “Constitutional equality” was repeated in the statement joined by trans activists.

 CHP MP Toprak together with trans activists at the Turkish Parliament

CHP MP Binnaz Toprak, made a press statement at the Turkish Parliament on the occasion of Trans Remembrance Day on November 20, speaking up against discrimination, marginalization and violence.

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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

News Media Analysis: “One less trans following each trans-related news”

Source: Michelle Demishevich, “Her trans haberinde bir trans eksildi,” (“One less trans with each trans-related news,”) P24, 13 October 2014, http://www.platform24.org/guncel/514/her-trans-haberinde-trans-kadinlar-bir-eksildi

The media has a direct responsibility for the discrimination and violence that target trans individuals.

For years, the media perceived news and updates on the LGBTI as if they were an undesirable workload. There are already very few journalists at news desks who have a mastery on the language of gender [as a social construct]. The making of LGBTI news requires significant sensitivity. Sentences should be carefully chosen. Yet a discourse of hatred, deployed through trans women, has been rampant in LGBTI news stories that appear in the media. Trans women have been represented as mean and wicked in news headings such as “transvestite terror,” “transvestites have spread horror,” “transvestites have entered into armed conflict with the police,” and so on. In the last few years, positive news stories by women who are sensitive to LGBTI, women, and gender have been effective, to a limited degree, in undoing this perception.

Whenever media published a story on trans women, a trans murder happened the very next day. Perhaps trans women were targeted by the news stories, or perhaps it was the deployment of the discourse of hatred that set the stage for hate crimes.

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Gay Police Officer Case in European Union’s Turkey 2014 Progress Report

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Eşcinsel Polis Davası AB Raporunda,” (“Gay Police Officer Case in EU Report,”) bianet, 9 October 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/159047-escinsel-polis-davasi-ab-raporunda

The European Union’s (EU) Turkey 2014 Progress Report included the case of Osman, a gay police officer who was expelled from his post due to his sexual orientation.

The report’s section on LGBTI rights cited that while an open gay person could become a municipal assembly member in Istanbul, discrimination against LBGTI individuals remained in workplaces.

“A police officer’s appeal against dismissal from his profession for his sexual orientation was awaiting a trial date,” the report said regarding the situation of state workers dismissed due to their sexual orientation.

“We are visible in the EU but not in Turkey’s judicial system,” Osman told bianet after hearing that the report cited his situation.

“I don’t know how far it will go, but one day we will acquire our rights.”

Osman, 28, has been dismissed due to his sexual orientation after working as a policeman for 6 years.

Osman previously spoke to bianet after starting a legal battle to return to his post. His struggle continues.

Çingene Gül, Trans Woman, Murdered in Istanbul

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Trans Çingene Gül Öldürüldü,” (“Çingene Gül, Trans Woman, Murdered in Istanbul,”) bianet, 9 October 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/159065-trans-cingene-gul-olduruldu#

Çingene Gül, a trans woman, was found dead in her Istanbul apartment on October 8. While the autopsy is yet to be completed, it is suspected that she was murdered two days ago because her friends didn’t hear from her for two days.

Her neighbor Melek Emir said,  “Two nights ago, I heard noises from the apartment building. Gül never makes noise. At first, I thought somebody was trying to break in, then I heard the door open and close. I supposed Gül couldn’t find her keys or something. I never reckoned such a thing would ever happen.”

Gül’s street is crowded with police officers investigating the events and onlookers after her friends found her body. All the women in the neighborhood recognize Gül. “She smiled all the time, she would greet everyone on the street. She wouldn’t disturb anybody.”

Gül’s trans friends argued with the police in order to see her one last time. Police said they could do so in small groups provided that they wouldn’t cry out, touch her or bring disorder to the crime scene.

Her friends claim that trans sex workers are usually murdered by their clients – which they think was also the fate of Gül. They also said Gül didn’t receive customers in her apartment and preferred to use hotels or other venues. They also brought up the possibility of burglary. However, police said that it was not possible to know that at the time.

Utku who found Gül’s body and said, “I went to her apartment after not hearing from her. I knocked on the window, I tried the doorbell, but she didn’t respond. Then her upstairs neighbor buzzed me into the building. I had to break into Gül’s apartment via the backyard. She wasn’t in her bedroom. When I went to the living room, I saw her lying on the floor and I ran away screaming.”

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Press Statement by luBunya Students on Singer’s Homophobic Statements

Source: luBunya-Bogazici [Bosphorus University Student Organization against Heterosexism], “Basına, Kamuoyuna ve Tüm İnsan Hakları Destekçilerine Duyurulur!” (“For immediate release to press and public and all of the civil right supporters”), Facebook, 17 September 2014, https://m.facebook.com/LuBUnyaBogazici/photos/a.152506168117885.25456.132128600155642/742015985833564/?type=1

The singer named Fatma Uludan Canevi, known as Niran Unsal, commits a crime of provoking the public to hate and hostility or insulting it via her social media account.

Canevi makes offensive statements openly by using the published photos of the audience who went to a legally organized concert [by Lady Gaga]. The photos of the audience show them wearing self-designed clothes in the concert area.

Canevi shared a photo of a person from the audience with a green wig and pink clothes via her social media account and tweeted: “We are not interested in your sexual preferences, go live in your home! We will not let you be role models for our children with such quackery.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 08.33.10

Canevi said “This is the main reason why we worry” by using the photos of other members of the audience with wigs and glasses. And “Mothers and fathers, it is our humane duty to say STOP to all of those poisoning the youth of this country!”

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