RIGHTS > Main opposition urges protection of LGBT's, ruling party calls them 'immoral'

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Turkish politicians have long ignored discrimination and abuse faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT). However, the issue came onto the agenda of Parliament's General Assembly for the first time on May 29. AFP photo

Turkish politicians have long ignored discrimination and abuse faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT). However, the issue came onto the agenda of Parliament's General Assembly for the first time on May 29. AFP photo

As many countries discuss granting gay marriages, the Turkish Parliament tackled for the first time May 29 the discrimination faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT), a sensitive issue long ignored by politicians. The initiative came from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which submitted an inquiry proposal regarding the problems of the LGBT community in Turkey that was signed by 59 deputies. 

The general assembly debates were once again heated as one ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy accused the signatory MPs of “defending immorality” while Binnaz Toprak, the sponsor of the initiative for the CHP, stressed that homosexuality was neither “a choice, nor a disease.” 

“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,” Toprak said, emphasizing that all these problems affected every aspect of the basic daily lives of any lesbian or gay individual.

LGBT people are oppressed in political, economic, social and psychological terms, she said. “This picture is unacceptable. As the Parliament, we have to change it. We cannot ignore these rights in a country that we claim is an advanced democracy,” she added. 

Toprak, who recently won the “Outspoken Award” from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in the United States, demanded legal guarantees for sexual orientation and identity.

‘Hate speech exists’

Aykan Erdemir, also from the CHP, criticized the negligence in terms of legislation on hate speech and hate crimes, especially when directed toward LGBT individuals. “We say that you cannot move forward with anger and hate. We demand a legal arrangement [on hate speech],” Erdemir said, while recalling that the former Women and Families Minister Aliye Kavaf’s description of homosexuality as a “disease” had sparked huge criticism three years ago. 

“Isn’t there a place in Turkey for LGBT’s?” Erdemir asked. He later wrote via Twitter that a deputy from the AKP had interrupted him, accusing him of “defending immorality.” “I responded ‘no, I am
defending rights’,” he wrote.

Homosexuality ‘abnormal behavior,’ AKP insists

Meanwhile, the AKP rejected the opposition’s initiative, arguing that it would encourage “behavior that people do not approve of.”

“As a doctor, I consider the condition defined as LGBT as an abnormal behavior,” the AKP’s Türkan Dağoğlu said, adding that western countries could not be seen as a role model on the issue. “Marriage of a woman with a woman and of a man with a man is not a right; on the contrary it is a practice that paves the way for a social subversion by showing as an accomplishment the reversal of sexual orientation,” she said. 

Dağoğlu denied that the AKP was lenient on attacks and abuses on LGBT individuals. Instead of new legislation,  she proposed a joint work with non-governmental organizations to introduce “preemptive measures” that would prevent “arbitrary” decisions in the courts. 


LGBT rights remain a sensitive topic in Turkey, as lesbians, gays and transsexuals routinely suffer abuses such as discrimination, harassment, mobbing and stigmatization. During many years, LGBT associations were under constant threat of being banned and frequently prosecuted for pursuing activities “against morality.” However, associations such as Kaos GL helped raise awareness, especially among human rights activists. 

One of the current debates centers around the protection of sexual orientation and sexual identity under the new Constitution being drafted by the Turkish Parliament. The AKP has recently declined a proposal demanding the inclusion of the term “sexual orientation and sexual identity” in the Constitution Conciliation Committee, which was backed by the CHP and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). 

May/29/2013

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READER COMMENTS

Notice on comments

HDNblogger

5/30/2013 7:25:24 PM

ERIK, you need to read my comment again. I said the AKP member was a disgrace, not being LGBT...being LGBT is totally natural. It occurs randomly in nature. Unless the AKP (or others who are opposed to LGBT) can prove otherwise?

Michael Johnson

5/30/2013 2:57:25 PM

Blind religious dogma is a sin against all sentient beings.

american american

5/30/2013 2:08:39 PM

i guess this also means religion is a choice and laws cannot be 'commanded' by choices

american american

5/30/2013 2:04:45 PM

when did all these good heterosexuals choose to be straight?

Red Tail

5/30/2013 11:55:40 AM

Why can people simply not accept that we are all different? Why this hate against other people? I truly do not understand. And if we talk about "immorality", then we have far more immoral issues to deal with like corruption, lack of rule of law, police brutality, childe brides, honour killings etc. These are serious problems, but if two men or women decided to live together, it does not harm anyone.

Erik Befrits

5/30/2013 9:48:48 AM

@Ali Benjamin and HDN, does not this comment qualify nicely as homophobic, which is against the HDN comment guidelines? If only tolerated, but not protected in law, then there really is no protection at all, is there? The wind can turn in an instant while the law at least needs a couple of days.

Erkin Salih

5/30/2013 9:23:31 AM

Typical of AKP to denounce anything against their ideas is a SIN, In every countries population at least 10% of it are Gay/Lesbian/Transgender or Transvestite. The problem in Turkey like all Islamic States they like to bury their heads in the sand and forget that gays exist just like AKP is doing. It is common knowledge that in most Middle Eastern Countries sex between man is widespread, but the problem is that The active one in the role of Gay sex does not see himself as Gay as he is the TOP .

Sean Lakers

5/30/2013 8:39:31 AM

Ali Benjamin, are you a homosexual? If you are not, how do you know if it is a choice? You are arguing about something you have never lived nor experienced, this says a lot about you. Blindly following a religion is your specialty, independent thoughts is your nightmare. I guess all the homos are going to burn in hell, even most of the animal species that practice it, stupid animals and their choice and preferences!

mara mcglothin

5/30/2013 4:01:58 AM

ALI I am so pleased for you. It is so simple. If you don't believe in homosexuality then don't participate in it. Simple. In a democracy, my rights end where another's begins, so to each his own.

K M

5/29/2013 10:05:24 PM

Get out the popcorn and pull up a seat. ALL the worst of AKP religious backwardness will be on display here, all the hatred toward those who are different from themselves, all the 1,000 year-old thinking, all the moral policing. The BDP appear to be the real progressives here; I hope the CHP can learn from them.
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