Turkey’s Homosexuals Call for Stronger EU Support
February 15, 2005
ANKARA—Homosexuals in Turkey
believe the European Union has failed to lend them adequate support and expect
Brussels to speak out in favor of their struggle for equal rights in the
mainly Muslim nation, activists said Tuesday.
Ali Erol, a member of one of Turkey’s leading gay and
lesbian groups, KAOS GL, told a conference that the EU, which Ankara is
seeking to join, has failed to react to discrimination against homosexuals as
strongly as it does to other human rights abuses in the country.
“When it concerns homosexuals, the issues are passed
over in silence, maybe because there is no penalty” for homosexuality in
Turkish law, Erol said.
He gave as an example a penal code reform last autumn.
The government dropped from the draft a provision that would have made
discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation” a jailable offence.
“While everything is being questioned in the EU, no one
bothered to ask where the (article on) sexual orientation vaporized,” he
Even though the homosexual movement in Turkey is still in
its fledgling stages, gays and lesbians have become increasingly outspoken in
Tuesday’s conference marked the completion of a KAOS GL
project, sponsored by the British embassy here, which provided training for
human rights activists on how to incorporate the long-neglected issue of
homosexual rights into their campaigns.
Activists agree Turkey is far ahead of other Muslim
nations when it comes to tolerance for homosexuals.
Most Muslim countries punish homosexuality—some with
death—whereas in Turkey same-sex relationships have never been criminalized
and homosexuals today figure among the country’s top celebrities.
Still, prejudice is strong in daily life.
Activists say most of them risk their jobs if they
disclose their sexual identity, with no laws to protect them. Police are
notoriously harsh with transsexuals and transvestites.
Kursad Kahramanoglu, the Turkish co-head of the
International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), expressed hope that
Turkey’s EU accession process would strengthen efforts to stamp out
“I would hate to see things happening in Turkey because
the EU is forcing its hand, but we have to use this opportunity,” he told