As many countries discuss granting gay marriages, the Turkish Parliament has tackled for the first time May 29 the discrimination faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT), a sensitive issue long ignored by politicians. The initiative came from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which submitted an inquiry proposal regarding the problems of the LGBT community in Turkey that was signed by 59 deputies.
The general assembly debates were once again heated as one ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy accused the signatory MPs of “defending immorality” while Binnaz Toprak, the sponsor of the initiative for the CHP, stressed that homosexuality was neither “a choice, nor a disease.”
“The LGBT individuals face serious prejudices. Politicians have not done what was needed to this date. They are harassed by the police. Their families ostracize them. They are forced to commit suicide. Courts reduce the sentences of the murderers. They can’t find work, or are subjected to mobbing in their professional lives,” Toprak said, emphasizing that all these problems affected every aspect of the basic daily lives of any lesbian or gay individual. LGBT people were oppressed in political, economic, social and psychological terms, she said.
“This picture is unacceptable. As the Parliament, we have to change it. We cannot ignore these rights in a country that we claim is an advanced democracy.”
Toprak, who recently won the “Outspoken Award” from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in the USA, demanded legal guarantee for sexual orientation and identity.
‘Hate speech exists’
Aykan Erdemir, also from the CHP, criticized the negligence in terms of legislation on hate speech and hate crimes, especially when directed towards LGBT individuals. “We say that you cannot move forward with anger and hate. We demand a legal arrangement [on hate speech],” Erdemir said while recalling that the former Women and Family Minister Aliye Kavaf’s description of homosexuality as a “disease” had sparked huge criticism three years ago.
“Isn’t there a place in Turkey for LGBT’s?” Erdemir asked. He then transmitted via Twitter that a deputy from AKP had interrupted him, accusing him of “defending immorality.” “I responded ‘no, I am
defending rights’,” he wrote.
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