Ethnicity, sexual orientation excluded in hate crime draft presented to Turkish Cabinet
ANKARA - Radikal
A draft presented to the Cabinet concerning hate crimes does not include provisions for those targeted because of their sexual orientation. DHA photoA draft presented to the Cabinet concerning hate crimes does not include provisions for those targeted because of their sexual orientation or ethnic identity.
The draft, which designates “hate and prejudice” as an aggravation cause for crimes, was presented as one of the reforms that government vowed to implement as part of its “democracy package.”
However, hate and prejudice crimes are defined in the draft as “crimes committed based on someone’s or some group’s language, race, nationality, skin color, gender, disability, political views, philosophical beliefs or religion,” excluding those based on ethnicity and sexual orientation, different to many European countries.
With the exclusion of ethnicity as a characteristic that could be basis of a hate crime, assaults against ethnic minorities in Turkey that don’t have a nation recognized by the United Nations would be charged with a regular punishment. For example, if an Armenian person in Turkey is targeted for being an Armenian, the crime committed against them will be regarded as a hate crime and whatever the crime is, its penalty would be aggravated.
On the hand, the largest ethnic minority in Turkey, Kurds, is not included in the regulation, as it does not have a U.N.-recognized country.
Although gender is included, the same is true for gays and lesbians, as attacking a person based on their sexual orientation is not regarded as a hate or prejudice crime, according to the draft.
After the long-running public debates on what would be the criteria to define hate crimes, which are entering into the Turkish legal system for the first time, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin had said the criteria of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) would be taken as a model. However, the OSCE’s definitions include crimes motivated by both ethnicity and sexual orientation.
“A hate crime is a crime that is intolerance towards a certain group within society. A protected characteristic is a fundamental or core characteristic that is shared by a group, such as ‘race,’ religion, ethnicity, language or sexual orientation,” the institution states on its website.
The tightening of hate crime penalties was announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as part of the “democracy package,” which was presented as an initiative to extend rights given to Turkey’s disadvantaged minorities.
Although most of the unveiled reforms have been hailed, some find the promises insufficient and accuse the government of lacking willingness to target the real issues facing Turkey.