Gay referee wins in court while the federation loses

Gay referee wins in court while the federation loses

I cannot tell you how happy I am. There was a Turkish football referee who was fired six years ago because of his sexual orientation named Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ.

For the first time someone came up in the field of football, which is considered to be the stronghold of the male world, and said courageously, “My being gay is not an obstruction to being a good referee. This is discrimination; I will fight for my rights.”

I always remained in touch with Dinçdağ in the course of these years.

I cannot tell you how much of an honorable and proud man he is.

He went through difficult times.

First of all, he was unemployed; everyone stayed away from him. Whenever he applied for a job he was turned down with foolish excuses like “old age.” The truth is that as he was known to be the “gay referee” and they thought he would be trouble for them.

And despite his level of education he could not find a job. He lost his beloved mother. Then he was diagnosed with cancer.

He underwent an operation last year. 2015 was a difficult year for him.

Until Dec. 29.

He won the legal fight he had been waging for the past six years against the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).

I salute Dinçdağ. I applaud everyone who has been subjected to discrimination for fighting for their rights, for not giving up and for their resilience.

And I also congratulate the judge in this case.

Such decisions increase my faith in law and the judiciary. 

One of my wishes for 2016 is for Dinçday to find a job. Maybe someone who reads this interview will decide to hire him.

A turning point in homophobia

How do you feel after the decision?

“Wonderful. This injustice was weighting very heavy on me. I am much lighter now,” Dinçday said. “I feel like someone who has won a victory after a six-year-long fight. I only wish I could share this victory with my mother. She was my biggest supporter.

Do you think this decision means an end to homophobia in Turkish football?

“I don’t think so,” he said. “Homophobia in this country, whether in football or any other field, won’t end easily. But this is one step forward; a very significant step. I think it is a turning point in terms of the LGBTI struggle. Not only in Turkey, but all over the world homophobia is very present in the world of football. They say ‘we fight against it’ but I don’t believe it.”

Is the football federation ignoring you?
“They are. I will apply to the federation for the reinstitution of my rights. I am not giving up. I will continue to fight for my rights.  During this fight I was diagnosed cancer; I am unemployed and I do not have any health insurance. All my job applications are being turned down. But this decision made me forget everything,” he said.

Will the 23,000 Turkish Liras compensate your losses?

“Of course not. I still don’t know if I can find a job moving forward. I will still try,” he said.

How did you get on for the past six years?

“I have been trying to stand up with the help of my family and friends. That’s why the case is very important. I don’t bow before anyone except God due to my faith. I came to this world to live an honorable life,” he said.