Human Rights / Military

Transgender Turkish singer on trial for criticizing military

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Bulent Ersoy could face more than two years in prison for saying during a live television show that if she had children, she would not want them to join the army to fight Kurdish rebels.

Military service is obligatory for men over the age of 20 in Turkey and it is a crime to speak against it. The European Union, which Turkey wants to join, is pressing Turkey to do away with laws that stifle free expression. Under EU pressure, Turkey amended a law in April that barred the denigration of Turkish identity and institutions. The law had been used to prosecute Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and other intellectuals.

But human rights groups said the changes did not go far enough and pointed to other freedom-curbing laws, such as the one used against Ersoy. Ersoy, who underwent a sex-change operation in 1981 to become a woman, is one of Turkey
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