Human rights organizations have called on the United Nations to urge Turkey to take necessary steps to protect the LGBTI+ community from any attacks and to ensure that the Turkish government complies with its domestic and international law obligations to protect the rights and freedoms of all individuals.
“While the Constitution provides that international agreements must take precedence where any conflict arises with domestic law, the silence of domestic law on LGBTI+ issues continues to enable authorities to take discriminatory measures on the justification of ‘morals of the society’, ‘public safety’ and ‘unnatural sexual behavior,’” read the letter sent by the member organisations of Solidarity Network for Human Rights Defenders to the UN Human Rights Office on Aug. 12.
The human rights organizations have recalled in their letter that Turkey’s high-profile political and religious individuals have been making statements which lead to intolerance or pose a risk of violence against LGBTI+ community.
In this regard, the letter made a mention of Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş’s remarks that homosexuality “causes illness and withers the generation” as well as Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) head Kerem Kınık’s comments that “We will not let them [LGBTI+] violate the dignity of humanity.”
“The public statements have fueled a discriminative discourse against the LGBTI+ community on social media. For example, in the month of June 2020 hashtags demanding the prohibition of LGBTI+ activities and a boycott of Turkish companies who expressed solidarity with global Pride Day were trending on Twitter. The use of the hashtag YallahHollandaya (‘go to Holland’), which has become a popular homophobic slur in Turkey,” the letter said.
Emphasizing that the government has a responsibility in ensuring the rights and freedoms of all individuals, the rights organizations said: “We request that the Special Rapporteurs urge the Turkish Government to amend its Constitution to include explicit provision for sexual orientation and gender identity under Article 10 and introduce domestic legislation in line with its international obligations, explicitly protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBTI+ people without discrimination.”
The letter was signed by the following rights groups: Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, Civil Rights Defenders, Eşit Haklar İçin İzleme Derneği, Hakikat Adalet Hafıza Merkezi, Kaos GL, London Legal Group, Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği, Özgürlük İçin Hukukçular Derneği, P24 Bağımsız Gazetecilik Derneği, Research Institute on Turkey, Sosyal Politikalar, Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği, Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı, Yaşam Bellek Özgürlük Derneği and Yurttaşlık Derneği.