Sacked gay referee fights to get his job back

A 33-year-old Turkish football referee who was sacked for being gay has said he will take his fight to the European Court of Human Rights.

Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, who is from Trazbon, in the Black Sea coast area of the country, was sacked as a referee after announcing last month on television that he was gay.

Speaking on a Turkish football show on Kanalturk on Saturday, Dincag said he would continue to fight the legal battle against his dismissal.

The Turkish Football Federation revoked Dincdag’s refereeing license on the grounds that, as homosexuals are declared ‘unfit’ for compulsory national military service, Dincdag would also be physically unfit to referee sporting events. Unlike other predominantly Muslim countries, being gay in Turkey is not illegal.

Dincdag told AFP: “I have not committed a crime, I have not defamed my profession. I’m only a homosexual.”

Dincdag was speaking from Istanbul, where he has gone in “self-exile” since coming out. “Since then, my life has turned into hell. I have inadvertently become a standard-bearer of the homosexual struggle,” he said.

The “homosexual struggle” in Turkey has arguably improved in recent years, due to the country’s bid to join the European Union. Ali Erol, a senior member of the Turkish gay and lesbian right group KAOS-GL said the bid has “contributed to a better understanding of homosexuals” in the country.

However, the 2008 Amnesty International annual report said of Turkey: “Laws continued to be interpreted in ways that discriminated against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.” It cited several examples of anti-gay incidents.

During his recent appearance on Kanalturk, Dincdag said he still had the support of his family, including his brother who is an imam.

Dincdag appealed to colleagues and other Turkish people who have experienced discrimination, saying: “Please stand tall against the unfairness against you. Whenever something wrong is happening, say that it is wrong. Say what is right for you.”