Persecution of Homosexuals (Turkey)

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Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)

Turkey's Culture Ministry restricts the viewing of the Oscar-winning gay romance 'Brokeback Mountain', saying the movie violated public morals[edit]

Culture Ministry: movie violates public morals

Turkey's Culture Ministry has restricted the viewing of the Oscar-winning gay romance "Brokeback Mountain" to viewers over the age of 18, saying the movie violated public morals, a ministry official said Thursday.

The restriction reflects the sensitivities in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey, where homosexuality is largely a taboo subject.

The movie ratings subcommittee of the Culture and Tourism Ministry restricted the viewing of "Brokeback Mountain" before its opening in Turkey next Friday, the ministry official said on condition of anonymity. Turkish officials cannot speak to the press without prior authorization. The subcommittee ruled that the movie would harm public morals, the official said.

Broadcasting watchdog blocks reality television show in which men would compete to look and act like women, due to "intense public reaction against the proposed program"[edit]

Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog has blocked a reality television show in which men would compete to look and act like women, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday.

The Radio and Television Higher Board blocked the show, called He’s A Lady Now, before it was broadcast because of what it said was an intense public reaction against the proposed program, Anatolia said.

“I congratulate our board’s directors for taking the reactions from the public into account and displaying a responsible approach,” board president Zahid Akman was quoted as saying. Turkey is an overwhelmingly Muslim country where issues related to sexuality, particularly homosexuality, are largely taboo.
. . .

“We’re happy with this decision,” Akman said. “Television programs can of course have both positive and negative effects on the public.”

Eleven gays are killed within the first half of 2009[edit]

Eleven have been killed in 'hate crimes' against homosexuals in the last six months in Turkey, and so the seventeenth LGBTT (Lesbians, Gay, Bi-Sexuals, Transsexuals and Transgender) Pride Week has kicked off in Istanbul in a climate of sadness and rage.

The event was organised by the LambdaIstanbul association, which in January risked being shut down due to accusations of offense to "public morality".

There have been many assemblies, round table discussions and cultural events with a large number of participants - including the Turkish writer Elif Shakaf - to prepare for Gay Pride, the event which on Sunday will start at Taksim Square and end on the banks of the Bosporus via Beyoglu, long known as the centre of Istanbul night life - which many transsexuals have recently been forced to leave after raids carried out by the forces of order.

Defending onés rights in a demonstration has become necessary, Ismail Alacaoglu, one of the leaders of the LGBT Kaos GL association, told ANSA: "violence targeting us is on the rise because our visibility has increased. We were expecting this and are afraid that it will continue, but the time has come for us to take to the streets, since we no longer want to hide."

Turkey suspends a gay referee after he 'outs' himself on television. Friends break off contact with him, and another referee says "It's entirely possible that he'd give more free kicks to a good-looking player"[edit]

A gay soccer referee recently suspended in Turkey is planning to sue the country's national football federation on grounds that it discriminated against him because of his homosexuality. Halil Ibrahim Dincdag says he is ready to take his case as far as the European Court of Human Rights.
. . .

Two months ago, Dincdag became famous for being Turkey's first gay referee after outing himself on television.
. . .

Since his outing, Halil Ibrahim Dincdag has become a stranger to many. Friends have broken off contact with him, and someone on the Internet called him a "bloodless fag." Another referee declared: "I believe that someone like that referees according to his feelings. It's entirely possible that he'd give more free kicks to a good-looking player."
Gay Referee Cries Foul in Turkey
Daniel Steinvorth, SPIEGEL, July 22, 2009

Father shoots and kills his homosexual son after after he tells him about his relationship with a man from Germany[edit]

A Turkish father accused of murdering his homosexual son in a so-called 'honour killing' went on trial in the Uskudar municipality of Istanbul Tuesday.

Yahya Yildiz, 49 - who is on the run and is being tried in absentia - is accused of shooting his 26-year-old son Ahmet in June 2008 after the latter told him about his relationship with a man from Cologne in Germany.

Human rights organisations were monitoring the start of the case after complaints were made that Turkish courts did not make enough effort to prosecute in cases where homosexuals were murdered.

Ibrahim Can, the victim's German-Turkish boyfriend, demanded that those who had helped the murderer also be prosecuted. But, he said, 'my expectations from the trial are minimal'.

Gay and lesbian internet forums are shut down by censorship[edit]

Turkey’s two largest gay and lesbian Internet communities, hadigayri.com and gabile.com, have been shut down by the Telecommunication Directorate, or TİB. The Web sites have more than 200,000 members combined. According to its administrators and members, the sites do not contain any pornographic or criminal content. The directorate blocked the sites without providing any information to the owners or issuing a demand to take down certain content, site mangers said, calling the action unlawful and arbitrary.

Discrimination at the workplace and in the courts for the LGBT community in Turkey[edit]

There have been several cases of discrimination at the workplace, where LGBT employees have been fired because of their sexual orientation.

Provisions of the Turkish Criminal Code on ‘public exhibitionism’ and ‘offences against public morality’ are sometimes used to discriminate against LGBT people. The Law on Misdemeanours is often used to impose fines against transgender persons.

The Turkish armed forces have a health regulation which defines homosexuality as a “psychosexual” illness and identifies homosexuals as unfit for military service. Conscripts who declare their homosexuality have to provide photographic proof. A small number have had to undergo humiliating medical examinations.

Anti-discrimination is enshrined in the Constitution and upheld in several laws. However the legal framework is not adequately aligned with the EU acquis (see chapter 19 – Social policy and employment).

Provisions of the Turkish Criminal Code on "public exhibitionism" and "offence against public morality" are sometimes used to discriminate against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transvestite and transgender (LGBTT) community. Homophobia has resulted in cases of physical and sexual violence while courts have on occasions applied the principle of "unjust provocation" in favour of perpetrators of crimes against transsexuals and transvestites.

Total of 45 gay and transgendered people have been killed in three years of "hate murders". Five people killed in February 2010 alone[edit]

When Turkey's family affairs minister recently described homosexuality as a curable disease, she was roundly criticized for discrimination and flouting human rights.

But for activists her remarks only underscore what they say is increasing prejudice, discrimination and violence -- even from police -- against homosexuals and transgender people in this Muslim-majority country stuck between its conservative roots and flourishing modernism.

A total of 45 gays and transgender people were killed over three years in "hate murders", said Demet Demir, a transsexual and leading activist from Istanbul-LGBTT, a civic body promoting homosexual rights.

"In February alone, five people were killed. In Antalya (southern Turkey), a transsexual friend was brutally murdered; her throat was slit.

"In Istanbul, another was stabbed to death. Three young men... killed her for money, but she only had 70 liras (46 dollars, 34 euros) and a gold chain," Demir said, adding that three gay men had also been killed in Anatolia.
Turkey's gays, transsexuals decry increasing homophobia
Nicolas Cheviron, Agence France-Presse, April 3, 2010

Turkey punished by the European Court of Human Rights for banning a book about a pop star that discussed his sexual orientation[edit]

Turkey was punished by the European Court of Human Rights because of the seizure of a book about a pop star that discussed his sexual orientation, the court said Tuesday.

"Tarkan - Anatomy of a Star" was first published in 2001 in Istanbul by Özcan Sapan, a 50-year-old editor. The first part of the book discussed the phenomenon of stardom, and the second part focused on Tarkan, a popular singer. It also contained photographs.

Unhappy with several passages that alluded to his sexual orientation and his effeminate style, Tarkan took the publisher to court and obtained a seizure of the book. The court gave no explanation for its verdict.
. . .
In its ruling, the European Court of Human Rights said the book, through scientific methods, used Tarkan to address the social phenomenon of stardom and could not be compared to the tabloid press and gossip columns, whose role was to satisfy curiosity about the details of celebrities' private lives.

The court noted that all the pictures used in the book were ones that Tarkan had posed for and that had been published elsewhere.

The court unanimously ruled that Turkey had violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and ordered Sapan to be paid 2,000 euros ($2,388) in compensation.
Europe court rules against Turkey in book dispute
Hurriyet Daily News, June 8, 2010

Government targets multiple Turkish LGBT organisations. Another gay group which had been harassed and condemned as "immoral" by the local government is ordered to close[edit]

Another Turkish LGBT organisation has been ordered to close.

A criminal court in Bursa, north-west Turkey, ruled that the Rainbow Association must shut down after claims by the local government that its members had engaged in prostitution. However, the LGBT group denies the allegations and says that no illegal activity has taken place. Rainbow Association president Öykü Evren Özen said his group would appeal the ruling.
. . .
According to the Gay Middle East website, the Bursa local government has been “harassing” the Rainbow Association since early 2007 and has previously denounced it as “immoral”.
. . .
The website urged the Turkish government to quickly pass a bill to uphold the rights of LGBT people. At least three other Turkish LGBT groups have fought legal challenges to stay open in the past six years. In 2009, Lambda Istanbul was granted permission to continue operating after it was ordered to be dissolved the previous year. Ankara-based group Kaos GL was ordered to close in 2005 by city deputy governor, Selahattin Ekmenoglu. The closure petition was dismissed by prosecutors.

Last year, The Black Pink Triangle Association of Izmir was taken to court after the city of Izmir accused it of immorality. It later won the right to stay open.

The words "gay" and "anal" among the words banned from the internet by government, cited as "indecent" or "provocative". Over 120,000 websites containing these words will be ordered to close[edit]

Thousands of Turkish websites will most likely be closed after Turkey’s islamist government, via its Directorate of Telecommunications ordered the banning of the use of 138 words cited as as “indecent” or “provocative”.

A lawmaker from the opposition Republican People’s Party told the newspaper Milliyet: ‘our studies have shown that over 120,000 websites in the country will be closed’ [because of the measure].
. . .
Existing sites containing the offending words will be ordered to close.

The blacklist are words such as “escort”, “goal” and “marriage” and “home”, “shock” and “fire” [wha-aat? Ed]. “Gay” and “prohibited” are also banned, and the number “31″, which in colloquial Turkish means masturbation.
. . .
Domains containing the word ‘sanal’ (which translates as ‘virtual’), for example, also might be closed because it contains the banned word ‘anal’.

Turkey has come in for widespread criticism in recent years for blocking the use of the site YouTube, and many other publications, because of the politically-sensitive messages and content, which the islamist governing party claims endangers the morality of society.

16 people murdered in 2010. 89 percent of transgender women experience physical violence during police detention. Turkish MP: “I believe homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness and should be treated”[edit]

Gay, bisexual and transgender Turks face widespread discrimination and homophobia, often suffering beatings by the police which leave them too frightened to report hate crimes, Amnesty International said in a report.

The rights group urged Turkey’s new government to draw up laws preventing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and to punish perpetrators of homophobic attacks.

The report comes ahead of the annual gay pride march in Istanbul on Sunday, June 26.

Local gay rights associations say 16 people were murdered in Turkey last year over their perceived sexual orientation, and violence is routine. Transgender women, who often have no other option but to work as prostitutes, are particularly threatened.

A survey of 104 transgender women by Turkish gay rights group Lambda Istanbul found 89 percent said they had experienced physical violence during police detention.

Amnesty said comments by government officials in Turkey, a majority Muslim country which aspires to join the European Union, had encouraged homophobia.

Aliye Kavaf, a Turkish minister of state for women and family affairs, said in 2010: “I believe homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness and should be treated.”

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, which grew out of a banned Islamist movement and has a socially conservative ethos, has governed Turkey since 2002.

The party won almost 50 percent of the vote in an election on June 12, and has vowed to rewrite the constitution, the legacy of military rule in the early eighties.

“It is the responsibility of all the parties in the parliament to ensure that any new constitutional settlement in Turkey outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexuality or gender identity,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.
. . .
Gay men also suffer discrimination within the armed forces. Military service is compulsory for all Turkish men aged between 18 to 40. They may be exempted, however, on the grounds that their sexual orientation constitutes a “psychosexual disorder.”

When asked for proof of their sexuality, gay men are often subjected to humiliating physical examinations or must supply photos of themselves engaged in gay sex.
Amnesty International condemns Turkey over gay rights record
Alexandra Hudson, Al Arabiya News, June 22, 2011

“I cleansed my honor”, Muslim murders brother, shot in the head for being a transsexual[edit]

A transexual man and a woman were killed in separate attacks by their relatives on Oct. 7 in the eastern province of Gaziantep and the western province of Manisa, respectively.

Ramazan Çetin, 24, was being treated at Gaziantep Cengiz Gökçek State Hospital following injuries he sustained after falling from a high place on Oct. 4 when the murder occurred.

Fevzi Çetin, Ramazan’s brother, turned himself in to hospital police after firing three rounds at his brother with a pistol at about 6:45 p.m. Two bullets went through his body, while another bullet went through his head, according to reports.

“My brother was engaged in travestism. I killed him,” said Fevzi Çetin, 27. “I cleansed my honor.”

Fevzi Çetin was taking special care to stay away from his family, who disapproved of his sexual preference. Çetin left his family home two years ago and had been living alone ever since.

Meanwhile, a woman returning from a women’s shelter back to her husband’s home was lethally stabbed by him in Manisa province, according to allegations, while her husband was also wounded in a fire he started.
One transsexual, one woman killed by family in Turkey
Hurriyet Daily News, October 7, 2011

"The face must be visible, and the photos must show you as the passive partner," gays face humiliating ordeal to prove their homosexuality and to obtain pink certificate that says they have a "psychosexual disorder"[edit]

Military service is mandatory for all Turkish men - they can only escape it if they are ill, disabled or homosexual. But proving homosexuality is a humiliating ordeal.
. . .

But while there are no specific laws against homosexuality in Turkey, openly gay men are not welcome in the army. At the same time, they have to "prove" their homosexuality in order to avoid military service.

Gokhan, conscripted in the late 1990s, very quickly realised that he was not made for the army.

"I had a fear of guns," he reminisces.

As a gay man he was also afraid of being bullied, and after little more than a week he plucked up the courage to declare his sexual orientation to his commander.

"They asked me if I had any photographs." Gokhan says, "And I did."

He had gone prepared with explicit photographs of himself having sex with another man, having heard that it would be impossible to get out of military service without them.

"The face must be visible," says Gokhan. "And the photos must show you as the passive partner."

The photographs satisfied the military doctors. Gokhan was handed his pink certificate and exempted from military service. But it was a terrible experience, he says,

"And it's still terrible. Because somebody holds those photographs. They can show them at my village, to my parents, my relatives."
. . .
It is not uncommon for employers in Turkey to question job applicants about their military service - and a pink certificate can mean a job rejection.

One of Gokhan's employers found out about it not by asking Gokhan himself but by asking the army.

After that, he says, he was bullied. His co-workers made derogatory comments as he walked past, others refused to talk to him.
Proving you're gay to the Turkish army
Emre Azizlerli, BBC News‎, March 26, 2012

Mayor of Turkish capital Ankara on live TV, "We can't approve and live together with the gay culture in Europe. Our morals are different. Inshallah (hopefully) there won't be any gays in our Turkey and there shouldn't be"[edit]

An interesting conversation took place between TV celebrity Okan Bayülgen and Ankara Metropolitan Mayor Melih Gökçek, during a debate on social media aired at Habertürk TV.

Noting that Paris and London resolved their biggest problems such as traffic and city planning with gay mayors in charge, Bayülgen asked Gökçek "When will we have a gay mayor in Turkey?"

"Each society has its own set of moral values" responded Gökçek. "We have our own way of life and traditions. We can't approve and live together with the gay culture in Europe. Our morals are different. Inshallah [hopefully] there won't be any gays in our Turkey and there shouldn't be."

Further in the program, Gökçek -who is very active in social media- shared his observations. He said social media is "a blessing".

Prime minister attacks Dutch lesbians for adopting Turkish Muslim boy, instructs his government to take the case to the ECHR. Lesbians go into hiding after being stalked by Turkish TV crew[edit]

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called homosexuality a ‘sexual preference’ saying it conflicted with the ‘culture of Islam’.

Erdoğan made these statements during a visit to the Netherlands, where he objected to a lesbian couple adopting a nine-year-old Turkish boy named Yunus.

Quoted by the Turkish daily Hürriyet, he said late last week: ‘We should hand over Yunus to secure hands. If we say “a six-month child cannot make such a decision so it is the judiciary who decides”, then this could lead to us to a big mistake’, he warned during meeting the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.

Erdoğan said non-governmental organizations in the Netherlands should get involved to ‘ensure that children are placed within a situation they have been used to before’, i.e. a heterosexual Islamic background.

Rutte objected to the suggestion saying: ‘The placing of Dutch foster children is the sole responsibility of the Dutch government, of nobody else.

‘For this reason I'm against having the issue taken up at a ministerial level.

‘Ultimately no distinction is made based on sexual orientation or religion’.

He added: ‘It would be good, seen from a different angle, if there were more Islamic families in the Netherlands willing to take foster children from an Islamic background’.

Dutch deputy premier Lodewijk Asscher on Friday (22 March) called any interference by a ‘foreign power’ based on religion or sexual orientation ‘presumptuous’.

Turkish authorities placed Yunus, who is now a Dutch citizen, as well as his two older brothers in the care of the same lesbian couple as the biological family was deemed ‘abusive’ and ‘unfit’ to raise children.

The mother nevertheless managed to kidnap Yanus’s two older brothers taking them to her parents’ home in Turkey.

The mother then went on to appear on Turkey’s main TV channel, which is run by Erdoğan’s stepson, accusing the Netherlands of ‘child abuse’ by placing Yanus with a lesbian couple.

The TV station along with prominent Turkish politicians further hyped up the incident claiming that it is wrong to have homosexuals and non Muslims adopt a Turkish child.

The Turkish human rights commission has even alleged that Yunus is being ‘forcibly assimilated’ by the Netherlands, igniting a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

Meanwhile Yunus’s lesbian parents were forced into hiding after a crew from the Turkish TV channel began stalking them.

During his visit Erdoğan also pressed to increase Turkish-Dutch trade volume from $7 billion to ‘$15 billion by 2015’ he said.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Ali Erol, chair and founder of Turkish LGBT rights group, Kaos GL, said: ‘Erdoğan’s hypocritically aggress the Netherlands to increase the capacity of trade but does not accept a child’s rights regarding his needs of love and security...
Turkey’s prime minister has instructed his government to take the case of an adoption of a boy by a Dutch lesbian couple to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

A report by the Turkish daily Sabah states that Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is making plans to take the case to the court, saying it was wrong to allow a lesbian couple to adopt the child.

Turkish authorities placed Yunus, who is now a Dutch citizen, as well as his two older brothers in the care of the same lesbian couple as the biological family was deemed ‘abusive’ and ‘unfit’ to raise children.

The mother nevertheless managed to kidnap Yanus’s two older brothers taking them to her parents’ home in Turkey.

Yunus’s biological mother has now asked Erdoğan to intervene on her behalf as to remove him from his adopted lesbian parents...

Country bans gay and bisexual male dating website as a "protective measure" following ruling by an Istanbul court[edit]

Gay and bisexual male dating website Grindr has been banned by Turkey's Directorate of Telecommunication (TIB) as a "protective measure" following a ruling by an Istanbul court, as daily Hurriyet online reports today. Both the Grindr website and the mobile application have become inaccessible since the TIB implemented the decision of the 14th Criminal Court of Istanbul. The application can still be downloaded from the application store, but it is not properly accessible. Hayriye Kara, a lawyer for KAOS GL, an LGBT association based in Ankara, said the court's decision was not published online, ultimately meaning that the reason for the censorship remains unknown. The media coordinator for the association, Omer Akpinar, has slammed the government, calling the ban an "arbitrary limitation of freedom." An online petition has been launched demanding Turkey repeal the order of the court blocking Grindr. Osman Nihat Sen, deputy director of the TIB, rejected claims in a recent interview with daily Haberturk that the authority applies a blanket ban on LGBT websites while refusing to elaborate on the reasons for the censorship.

Majority of LGBT prisoners are being held in solitary confinement, and are not allowed to join activities with other prisoners. Justice minister also announces plans to build segregated prisons[edit]

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has announced that a project to build exclusive prisons for gays is underway, sparking concern that such a measure will lead to profiling and expose LGBT individuals to more discrimination.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Veli Ağbaba, Bozdağ said the new measure was intended at “protecting convicts” by separating them according to their sexual orientation.

He said convicts who stated that they are gay will not mix with other convicts in the communal area or during social activities in the new prison facilities.

CHP Malatya deputy Ağbaba, who submitted the question after visiting LGBT inmates, said their point of view must be taken into consideration before any new practice was enforced.

“What is most urgent for LGBT individuals is to improve current prison conditions and end their ‘isolation within isolation,’” Ağbaba said, warning against the new proposals.

“Such a measure will also mean revealing inmates’ sexual orientation. That’s why a thorough work is needed prior to this,” he added.
. . .

Meanwhile, A majority of the LGBT individuals are effectively being held in solitary confinement, and are not allowed to join activities with other prisoners, the Justice Ministry has revealed in a report on July 2013.