Rules of law exist for freedom

Friday, November 20, 2015

In the last session of the first day of International Conference on Social Inclusion, experts from Turkey and around the world continued discussing the idea of “Supporting LGBTI Rights within Social Diversity”

The last session of the first day of International Conference on Gender, Diversity and Social Inclusion started with the presentation of CHP Istanbul Parliamentarian Mahmut Tanal. During the session, Member of the National Human Rights Council of Turkey Levent Korkut, Head of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit, Council of Europe Eleni Tsetsekou and Expert of Ombudsman Institution of Turkey Secil Gulcat have spoken.

The threat is posed by the security forces

Mahmut Tanal was the first speaker in the session. Mahmut Tanal noted the following:

“While the security forces were supposed to protect the group during the Pride against the possible threats from outside, group has faced the attack of security forces and security forces have posed the threat. Whereas fundamental rights and freedoms are supposed to be secured, pepper gas was used on the participants of the Pride and we acted as shields for our people. This act of mine caused me to be mentioned as an LGBT and it became a political issue. President of the Republic Erdogan made a statement following as “They are nominating an LGBTI for the general elections”. Regarding this issue, all organizations and institutions should be connective.

What is done in terms of the laws? We requested a quota right due course of Lbor Law Article No 30. Just as the institutions in private sector have to employ 3 persons and public bodies have to employ 4 persons if they have 50 employees, a quota for LGBT’s might be determined as well. We requested this. When I submitted the legislative proposal, newspapers as Yeni Akit, Milli Gazete made news like “Deviant parliamentarian is trying to employ deviant people”.

“Existing Legal Rules are for Freedom”

“Conservatism appears as a preventer in matters like gender transition and health. I wish conservatism appeared in getting things illegally, in corruption and in favoritism!”

“LGBT’s at ages like 16 – 17 are thrown out of the houses due to such feelings. We suggested that just as there are shelters, an institution in which LGBT persons can take shelter should be as well, but this suggestion wasn’t acknowledged. Again, we submitted our legislative proposal regarding gender reassignment but we fell short of number of persons.”

“Whereas the law should take a stand against actual state, actual state leads. Law recognizes freedom. It finds this right to protect and establishes legal rules. These existing legal rules actually exist to protect. We need to stick to this. When we look at the laws, we seem to have approved this but our citizens remain insensitive in terms of implementation.”

Levent Korkut: “Equality is for everyone”

In the session, Member of the National Human Rights Council of Turkey Levent Korkut spoke second. He laid emphasis on why political power is breaking the equality.

Highlighting the fact that disregarding the differences and assuming everyone is same also causes inequality, Korkut said “Inequality emerges as a result of developing advantages and disadvantages instead of bringing an order fitting to the differences”.

Korkut mentioned the importance of civil society with the following words: “The situation in organizational structure isn’t quite different either, equality is such an issue which is so involved in daily life and is so of concern to all of us, it has reflections in many different areas. Civil society, community and experts should collaborate in this field. Even though we consider in terms of civil society in Turkey, we see that non-governmental organizations have emerged within the last 20 years. We see that civil society develops inch by inch. When we look at the public, there is no big movement in public. There is the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity, disability being not included in Article No 10”

Leaders should be bold in terms of policies

Head of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit, Council of Europe Eleni Tsetsekou who began to speak afterwards in the session noted the following:

“Solidarity between the non-governmental organizations is crucial. Because being isolated, segregated and leaving the organizations alone is a bad situation.”

“We should make the issue visible, I believe this lies behind the equality. Authorities should reveal the experiences of LGBT’s, emphasize that they are exposed to discrimination and they need to be protected.”

“You must be aware of the Rainbow Map prepared by ILGA Europe. It defines the regulations-based equality successes in 49 member states. Today, we actually achieved some things which can create changes. We have the conditions necessary for Turkey to climb up in the Europe Map.”

“Leaders should be bold in terms of policies, they should fight against homophobia. These events are not singular events, LGBT’s face with issue like rape, forced marriage, being denied by family, society and being bullied. Besides, we should struggle to prevent the violence and discrimination which starts at home and continues in educational settings. We should fight for the children to grow up in an environment which is free from discrimination.”

“Intersex children is another important issue. There is a perpetual/regular attack to their physical integrity and changes are made to restore their genital areas without their consents. We haven’t reached the necessary awareness about this issue yet.”

Today, Council of Europe is striving for Turkey to change their legislation for harmonizing their laws. At the moment, same sex partners/people can adopt in 11 member states. There are still too many things to change, too many people to protect. We are fighting. We hope that gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people will feel happier in the future.

Gulcat from Ombudsman Institution of Turkey participated as a spokesperson

In the session, Expert Secil Gulcat from Ombudsman Institution of Turkey spoke lastly. Secil Gulcat talked about the processes and mechanisms of Ombudsman Institution.

The Conference will continue tomorrow with the Globalizing Human Rights for LGBTI People session at 9:30. During the session, Human Rights Watch Senior Turkey Researcher Emma Sinclair-Webb, IGLHRC Iran Project Manager Farid Haerinejad, Freedom House Senior Officer for Eurasia Program Matthew Schaaf, Chair of RFSL (Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights) Ulrika Westerlund, Stonewall International Policy Officer Kit Dorey will talk. The moderator of the session will be Bjorn van Roozendal from ILGA Europe.

Translated by Vahap Karakuş

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