UN concerned over LGBT rights in Turkey, calls gov’t to take action

UN concerned over LGBT rights in Turkey, calls gov’t to take action

UN concerned over LGBT rights in Turkey, calls gov’t to take action

Turkish police use a water canon to disperse participants of a Gay Pride event in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) rights in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, June 28, 2015. AP Photo

The U.N. has expressed deep concern over attacks and discriminatory acts on Turkey’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, while also calling for active measures to be taken in an effort to combat homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination. 

“In the past two weeks alone, reported incidents include the appearance of posters in Ankara encouraging the murder of LGBT people; a violent homophobic attack against a group of young gay men in Istanbul; as well as rape, assault and robbery against Kemal Ördek, a human rights defender and founder of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva on July 14. 

Ördek wrote a descriptive article, which was distributed via the Internet and news websites the past week, on how three men had robbed, raped and assaulted him and the inactiveness and discriminatory acts of the Turkish police against him, when he wanted to complain about the attacks. 

Colville said that the OHCHR was further concerned about allegations that the police officers handling Ördek’s case had trivialized the attack, used discriminatory language, tried to dissuade him from filing a complaint and did not provide protection from additional threats by the alleged perpetrators.

“We call on the Turkish authorities to take active measures to combat homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, to uphold the rights of LGBT people to peacefully assemble and express themselves and to ensure that LGBT victims of crimes are treated with respect and dignity and have access to protection mechanisms and effective remedy,” Colville said.

An Islamist group pinned posters to walls and posts in Ankara threatening LGBT people with death on July 7. 

“Should those who engage in ugly behavior and adhere to the practice of the people of Lot be killed?” read posters that appeared in Ankara overnight, referring to Lot, who features in the Old Testament and the Quran. Many Muslims believe that the decline of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah stemmed from the alleged sexual preferences of their inhabitants.

The poster incident came only about a week after Istanbul police dispersed LGBTI Pride Parade participants with tear gas and water cannons on June 28 before the much-anticipated march even started, as celebrants were ready with rainbow-colored flags and placards to march along Istanbul’s central İstiklal Avenue.

Colville said everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, was “entitled to the same fundamental human rights without discrimination or arbitrary restrictions of any kind, including the rights to life, liberty, physical integrity, privacy, equality before the law, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”