Turkey’s Democracy Reform Package fails LGBT citizens

At the end of last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan presented a ‘Democracy reform package’, including constitutional reforms, an anti-discrimination bill and a proposal for an amendment to hate crime and hate speech law. Unfortunately, the package leaves out measures that would protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are currently excluded from equality provisions in the constitution. In August, parliamentarians from the CHP and BDP parties introduced a proposal to add sexual orientation to the list, but the ruling AKP party opposed the proposal. The presentation by Erdoğan still excludes sexual orientation.

The proposal for amendments to the hate crime and hate speech law also failed to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds to be protected.

In 2012 alone, Turkish LGBT organisation Kaos GL reported eleven hate murders, eight hate assaults and several other violations, including lynching attempts, torture and ill-treatment, rape, and online harassment.

The proposed preamble for the constitutional draft nevertheless includes sexual orientation and gender identity, but this has no binding effect.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, commented: “Considering Turkey’s shocking record of murders and violence against LGBT people, and the lack of legal protection, this Democracy Package is a huge missed opportunity for the Turkish government to provide genuine protection to minorities. This shows yet again that Ankara doesn’t take the EU’s requests seriously.”

Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Turkey signed the European Convention on Human Rights, and has reassured the European Social Committee of its intention to align non-discrimination laws with EU standards.”

“It’s disturbing that Turkey, despite its promises, still fails to walk the talk when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

The European Commission will publish its annual accession reports, including on Turkey, on 16 October.