EU must insist Turkey “respect LGBT people’s basic rights”

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A leading human rights group has produced a report documenting “long and continuing history of violence and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity” in Turkey.


Human Rights Watch conducted more than 70 interviews over three years while compiling their 123-page report, We Need a Law for Liberation: Gender, Sexuality, and Human Rights in a Changing Turkey.


HRW has concluded that Turkey has yet to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that conforms to EU standards.


“In the complex path toward European Union accession, this report points to an area where little or nothing has changed,” said HRW’s Scott Long.“The EU must fully incorporate issues of sexual orientation and gender identity when considering Turkey’s application for membership.”




Turkish law offers no express protections for LGBT people’s universal human rights.


The report documents how gay men and transgender people face beatings, robberies, police harassment, and the threat of murder.The interviews also exposed the physical and psychological violence lesbian and bisexual women and girls confront within their families.

Human Rights Watch found that, in most cases, the response by the authorities is inadequate if not nonexistent.




“Democracy means defending all people’s basic rights against the dictatorship of custom and the tyranny of hate,” said Mr Long.“Where lives are at stake, Turkey needs to take concrete action and pass comprehensive legislation to protect them.”




The report examines a wide range of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


Several transgender people told Human Rights Watch how police tortured and raped them.One gay man recounted how another man stabbed him 17 times in an attempted murder that still remains unsolved.

A lesbian couple described how their parents used violence to try to separate them; when they turned to a prosecutor for help, he refused, questioning them instead about their sex life.

Human Rights Watch also found that, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Turkish military continues to bar gay men from serving in its forces.

At the same time, Turkey withholds any recognition of conscientious objection to military service.

Some objectors must instead identify themselves as “sick” – and are forced to undergo humiliating and degrading examinations to “prove” their homosexuality.




The report acknowledges that there have been some positive changes in Turkish law and policy as the country attempts to join the European Union.However, it also calls on the EU to insist on respect for LGBT people’s basic rights as a barometer of Turkey’s human rights progress.