Turkey’s top football body fined over dismissal of gay referee
DHA PhotoTurkey’s top football body has been fined for dismissing a referee after receiving a report showing his ineligibility to serve in the military because he was gay, news portal Diken has reported.
The Turkish Football Federation (TFF), the governing body of football in the country, was fined 23,000 Turkish Liras in a case filed three years ago after it dismissed referee Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ upon a report from 2007 which showed he was ineligible to serve in the military because of his sexual orientation.
“Winning this lawsuit means a lot to me. The court acknowledged that I’ve been right. I hope this ruling will be model for similar cases. This is a victory,” Dinçdağ said after the hearing at the 20th Court for Serious Crimes in Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.
Dinçdağ’s lawyer Fırat Söyle said he would appeal the ruling, as Dinçdağ had demanded 110,000 liras when he filed the case three years ago.
The ruling came three years after Dinçdağ was prohibited from football by the TFF after coming out as gay upon receiving the annual Respect Award on Nov. 24 from Berlin-based LGBT rights NGO Alliance Against Homophobia.
Dinçdağ received the award from Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who made public his sexual orientation prior to the 2001 mayoral race with a landmark statement that entered German political annals: “I’m gay, and that is a good thing.”
The Turkish referee was not only suspended from his occupation of 14 years, but also lost his job on a sports radio station and received threats from several groups in the Black Sea region after his case was reported in national media.
However, many LGBT groups and other NGOs expressed their solidarity with Dinçdağ’s case, which has put a spotlight on the male-dominated football culture particularly visible in stadiums, where homophobic insults and slogans directed at referees or opposition players from supporters is common.
Dinçdağ denounced widespread discrimination within the TFF, explaining that it specifically targeted minority groups, including Alevis in some cases.