“Isn’t there a place in Turkey for LGBT’s?”
By Cathy Kristofferson, June 1, 2013
Just before Turkey exploded onto the international news scene with the current uprising in Taskim Square now labeled #OccupyGezi , we received a request to publicize the police suppression of this year’s Istanbul Gay Pride March which we did here. While researching that BLOG piece I came across a report, that I could find in Turkish only, remarking on some action 59 legislators had taken but I failed to find a translation or translating software what could help me. While now I have found an English report…
Last Wednesday 59 deputies of the opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), introduced a proposal to the Turkish Parliament to tackle, for the first time, the discrimination faced by their lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT).
The CHP had requested an inquiry from the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) to find solutions for the problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community back on February 14th this year. The CHP also requested back then that ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ be added to the labor laws to prevent discrimination.
Wednesday, the sponsor of the initiative, the CHP’s Binnaz Toprak, stressed that homosexuality was neither “a choice, nor a disease” telling the Parliament:
“LGBT individuals face serious prejudices. Politicians have not done what was needed to this date. They are harassed by the police. Their families ostracize them. They are forced to commit suicide. Courts reduce the sentences of the murderers. They can’t find work, or are subjected to mobbing in their professional lives.”
She emphasized that the problems affected every aspect of the basic daily lives of all in Turkey’s LGBT community. Sadly the ruling party’s response, those of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), was to accuse the 59 MPs of “defending immorality” including a fine show of ignorance from MP Ibrahim Korkmaz who shouted about the immorality of it all and then stormed out.
Toprak, a member of the Turkish Equal Opportunities Commission for Men and Women, is a recent recipient of the Outspoken Award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).
During the discussion of the proposal, another MP from the CHP asked “Isn’t there a place in Turkey for LGBT’s?” He recorded the exchange on his Twitter:
The AKP rejected Toprak’s initiative saying it would encourage “behavior that people do not approve of” with MP Türkan Dağoğlu stating “As a doctor, I consider the condition defined as LGBT as an abnormal behavior.”
As we reported Friday here, Turkish civil rights laws for employment, education, housing, health care, public accommodations and credit in Turkey do not include sexual orientation or gender identity and there is no legal recognition for same-sex couples so basically the LGBT community has no rights or protections.
A new Constitution is being drafted by the Turkish Parliament and some are trying to get protections for sexual orientation and sexual identity added. So far, the AKP is refusing a proposal for such from two parties, the CHP and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
We will have to see what comes of all human rights in Turkey now with #OccupyGezi starting what some are calling the “Turkish Spring”. And as we all know, and as Al Jazeera noted on Twitter and their blog today, the gay community does know solidarity:
By Cathy Kristofferson, , @GE_MA_Lead