Below is a press statement about attempts to close one of the leading Turkish LGBTT groups (Lambda Istanbul) in Istanbul. This petition is signed by a number of human rights groups in Turkey.
THE DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION PREVENTS FREEDOM OF ORGANISING LGBTT PEOPLE!
We are asking: Is it immoral to be organized?
Stating that "Not only heterosexuals live in this society!", Turkey's lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transvestite and transsexual (LGBTT) associations are trying to benefit from their freedom of speech in order to fight against the discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. Turkish LGBTT people are against denial, marginalisation, stigmatisation and violence; they are seeking recognition of their existence in society.
Since 2005, civil groups and associations that apply to gain NGO (non-governmental) status were always confronted with the similar types of obstructions. Attempt to establish “Kaos GL” wanted to be rejected with a claim that "an immoral association cannot be founded". However on October 12 2005, they won their first victory when prosecutors rejected an official demand to shut down a newly-formed LGBTT association.
Now “Lambda Istanbul” faces the same threat of being closed down.
The Turkish Civil Code states that associations against law and morality cannot be established. Because Lambda Istanbul’s title has the words “lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transvestite and transsexual” in it, this association's title and purposes were found to be against the Turkish Civil Code," said the governor's letter sent to public prosecutors and the group, Lambda Istanbul.
The first trial will be held on July 19th, Thursday at 10:00 am.
On January 29, 2004 Turkey's Parliamentary Justice Commission voted to alter the 'discrimination' clause in the Penal Code to include ‘discrimination based on sexual orientation’ as a crime. Turkish LGBT activists praised the legislation that would result in criminal charges against a person who refuses anyone service, housing or employment on the basis of sexual orientation. If the law had passed, Turkey could have became the first predominantly Muslim country to pass such a law.
Although "sexism" and "discrimination against sexual orientation" are different issues of facts (aspects), the Minister of Justice Cemil Cicek claimed that they would express similar things and demanded that the expression "sexual orientation" should be taken out of the main paragraph concerning "discrimination".
Therefore on July 6, 2004 The Parliamentary Justice Commission took up the discrimination clause and decided to replace it with the discrimination clause that exists in the Constitution. According to the Article No.10 of the Turkish Constitution, discrimination based on language, race, skin color, gender, political opinion, religion, denomination and similar reasons is prohibited but it does not directly refer to sexual orientation.
Criteria and conventions must be binding for everybody and everywhere!
We want to remind that the Republic's Chief Prosecutor in Ankara rejected an official demand to shut down a newly-formed LGBTT association (Kaos GL) in Ankara in 2005. The prosecutor said in his ruling that the American Psychiatric Association did not rate homosexuality as a disorder and the words "gay" and "lesbian" were widely used in daily life and scientific research. He also put some international laws into consideration such as: the EU's political criteria, the Accession Partnership Document, the European Convention on Human Rights and supporting international conventions on human rights:
We also remind that both LGBTT associations "Lambdaistanbul," and "Kaos GL," are founded with the same objectives and are working in the frame of the law. We demand to fairness and have the same criteria and conventions in the city of Istanbul as well.
Even before registering to gain a legal NGO status, Lambdaistanbul has been an active organization in the past.
We, as members of below-mentioned Turkish associations that fight for human rights and freedom, are declaring to the public that we will continue to support Lambdaistanbul and its ideals and together resist the discriminatory practices that we face.
Kaos Gay-Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association
Pembe Hayat Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transvestite and Transsexual Solidarity Association
TPC Women Platform
Ankara University Gender Studies Group
Ankara Women Platform
“Say Stop! to Racism and Nationalism” Initiative
Kaos GL Ýzmir
Kaosist Homosexual Non-Governmental Initiative
MorEl Eskisehir LGBTT Organisation
*via Kaos GL