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TURKEY >Diplomatic community shows solidarity with gay Turkish referee

Pınar KırdarANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

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Daily News Photo/Selahattin Sönmez

Daily News Photo/Selahattin Sönmez

International embassy staff in Ankara from 19 countries played a football match on March 15 in a show of solidarity with Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ, Turkey’s first openly gay referee, who has been waging a legal battle against the Turkish Football Federation for dropping him over his sexual orientation.

“Football is not the area of heterosexual men only; women, men, gay and lesbian people can enjoy football as well... There’s an obvious discrimination [against Dinçdağ] due to his sexual orientation. Not only LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual] people, but also all football fans lent their support in this fight against discrimination,” Secretary General of the Ankara-based Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (Kaos GL) Ali Erol told reporters ahead of the match.

The match was organized by Kaos GL and was followed by a discussion at Ankara University titled “Sports Against Discrimination Forum.”

Dinçdağ, also speaking ahead of the match he refereed, expressed his pleasure with the solidarity and said the support shows that he is proceeding in the right way. Noting that he has been invited to referee many friendly matches, Dinçdağ said that he will travel to Germany upon an invitation from fans of Bayern Munich. “That homophobia is very common in football has been debated recently. But recent developments show that the situation will change gradually,” he said.

Dinçdağ has been fighting his legal battle against the federation for the past two years. The federation denied the referee’s accusations that he was dropped over his sexual orientation, citing his on-field performance instead.

An expert report submitted to the court admitted that the federation discriminated against him, and the federation is highly likely to be convicted in the May 21 hearing and forced to pay an indemnity, Dinçdağ said.

He also applied to the federation for restitution of his refereeing rights to the federation, he said, adding that he would apply to international football bodies FIFA and UEFA if the Turkish federation rejects his demand.

March/15/2013

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