Turkish Parliament hosts LGBT activists to mark transphobia victims

Turkish Parliament hosts LGBT activists to mark transphobia victims


CHP lawmaker Mahmut Tanal was joined by two LGBT activists in a press conference on Nov. 20, on the occasion of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. AA Photo

The Parliament of Turkey has hosted a press conference joined by LGBT activists on the occasion of the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Nov. 20 conference was initiated by a deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in order to draw attention to killings of transsexual individuals, who are commonly subject to hate crimes in the country.

“All people are born free and equal with regard to honor and rights. Crimes directed against trans citizens should be considered hate crimes,” CHP Istanbul deputy Mahmut Tanal said at the press conference.

A government-led reform package adopted by Parliament in March 2014 prohibited discrimination and hate crimes, but not on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Tanal called on Parliament, the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Family and Social Policies Ministry, the Labor and Social Security Ministry, the Ombudsman Institution and the Human Rights Institution of Turkey (TİHK) to take action to fulfill their responsibilities to protect trans citizens from discrimination.

A very striking example of discrimination and ill-treatment due to the absence of a legal arrangement aimed at preventing such discrimination was experienced at Parliament earlier on the same day as the event, Tanal also said.

“A body search of a woman friend of ours who came to Parliament was attempted by a male police officer. The body search of a woman by a male police officer is considered a violation of a human’s honor and dignity,” he said.

Meanwhile, a transgender woman, Buse Kılıçkaya, who attended the press conference, said 226 trans individuals have been killed across the world over the last 12 months and argued that the murder of trans and gay people was “political.”

Among European countries, Turkey and Italy topped the list as the countries where the highest number of murders of trans people took place, Kılıçkaya said.

In Turkey, 36 transgenders have been the victim of murderous hate crimes from January 2008 to September 2014, she said, while underlining her conviction that the real number was much higher as the number did not include the killings of trans and gay people by their families.

"The state does not offer any chance to trans individuals other than working as sex workers," Kılıçkaya said, stressing that the killers of trans sex workers unfairly received reduced sentences and are often released early.

Courts in Turkey widely rule for reduced sentences in such cases on the basis that the murders were committed in response to “unjust provocation.”