Turkish military and homosexuality

Gay Referee Wins Lawsuit, Court Penalized Discrimination

Gay referee Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ won a lawsuit against the Turkish Football Federation.

Source: “Eşcinsel Hakem Davayı Kazandı, Mahkeme Ayrımcılığı Cezalandırdı” (“Gay Referee Won Lawsuit, Court Penalized Discrimination”) KaosGL.org, 29 December 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20801

Gay football referee Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ’s lawsuit about the termination of his employment concluded today after its 19th session at the Çağlayan Court. Dinçdağ won the lawsuit for financial and emotional damages.

The court ordered for Dinçdağ to be paid 23 thousand Lira in damages. Because Dinçdağ had demanded 110 thousand Lira, his attorney Fırat Söyle noted that he and his client would appeal the decision.

Attorney Fırat Söyle told KaosGL.org: “The decision on the scope of emotional damages is up to the court. They calculated that Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ should be paid 23 thousand Lira to compensate for his distress. This amount cannot compensate for his suffering over the years. We will take the case to the Court of Appeals. Even though the amount was unsatisfying, the court has acknowledged homophobic discrimination and agreed to our demands. Discrimination has been penalized with this decision.”

What had happened?

In 2007, Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ obtained a medical report stating that he was not fit to fulfill his military service obligation because of his homosexuality. In 2009, he submitted a report showing that he has no military obligation to the Trabzon Board of Referees. The Board forwarded the report to the Turkish Football Federation while it allowed Dinçdağ to serve as a referee for a duration of two months.

The then-rapporteur for the Central Referee Board Osman Avcı asked the Trabzon Board to take action based on the 25th clause of the Turkish Football Federation’s bylaws. According to the clause, those who are exempt from military service due to medical issues cannot serve as referees. After that, the Trabzon Board did not allow Dinçdağ to take his exams and prematurely ended his chances to become a professional referee.

The Turkish Football Federation later changed its interpretation of the 25th clause with a notice stating, “Those who are exempt from military service for reasons other than medical issues can serve as referees.” The Federation also granted a one-time opportunity to take the exam to those previously denied the right to do so. However, Dinçdağ had already passed the age of 23 at that time and could not take advantage of this one-time opportunity.

The Military and the ‘Gays’

Source: Mehveş Evin, “Askerlik ve ‘gay’ler,” (The Military and the ‘Gays’,”) Milliyet, 17 November 2010,  http://cadde.milliyet.com.tr/2013/11/07/YazarDetay/1315132/askerlik-ve-gay-ler

When it comes to the “headscarf” debates, the words “fundamental rights” and “freedoms” are flying around. Well, what about the rights of those who are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation?

If Der Spiegel had not reported on the issue, it would have continued to be an urban legend. The German magazine ran the headline “Porn for the General” and reported that homosexual men are asked to present documents along with photos and videos to the Turkish military as proof of their sexuality in order to be approved for exemption from service. The news have entered mainstream Turkish press, while the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have denied it. Thus, the TSK, for the first time in its history, has delivered an opinion on homosexuality.


Gender Identity “Disorder”

Source: “F64.9: Cinsel Kimlik ‘Bozukluğu’,” (“F64.9: Gender Identity ‘Disorder’,”) kaosGL.org, 07 January 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=15547

Serdar, who received an “unfit to serve in the military” (F64.9 gender identity disorder, undefined) report, shared his experience with KaosGL.org:

I am a lucky gay man. I am 29 years old and well-mannered. My family knows about my homosexuality and I live with my boyfriend of five years. I want to retell my experiences of the process I went through in detail so that people can access this information easily online.

Because I could not decide on whether or not to get the report for military exemption after graduation, I registered with the Open Education Faculty at a second university to benefit from deferment.

First, I had to break the deferment and go to the bureau to state that I wanted to join army. After this statement, I immediately said, “I wanted to be referred to the hospital.”  The authorities at the recruitment office asked me to see a family doctor to get a report. I returned to the recruitment office with the report I received from a primary health care center and I was directly sent to the Gülhane Military Medical Faculty (GATA) (Üsküdar and Kadıköy recruitment offices refer to the GATA directly instead of having to go from one hospital to another.)

“He is quite feminine, he has one-night stands and he sleeps with anyone he likes”


Military Exemption: “Draw the chimney long- it represents the penis!”

Source: Ayşe Arman, “Bacayı uzun çiz, penisi temsil ediyor!” (“Draw the chimney long- it represents the penis!”) Hürriyet, 11 January 2014, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/cumartesi/25543414.asp

“I am a homosexual university graduate,” so started the e-mail. “I have been dealing with military affairs since September. I have been trying to get the report indicating I am not suitable to do my military service. I finally succeeded! However, it was really difficult. I have been exposed to all kinds of humiliation and insult. If you are interested, I would like to share my experience on the current military practices on the issue, just to inform other gay men who do not want to go to the military. I called him immediately. We met and talked.


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.