Turkish Gays Plead for More EU Support
U.K., February 18, 2005
By Ben Townley
SUMMARY: Representatives of Turkey’s LGBT population
say that while the EU has flagged up queries over Turkey’s human rights
record the issue of sexual diversity is often overlooked.
Turkey’s gay community has called on the European Union
to offer it more support, as the debate over whether the country should be
included in the next batch of new member states gears up.
Representatives of the LGBT population say that while the
EU has flagged up queries over Turkey’s human rights record the issue of
sexual diversity is often overlooked.
“When it concerns homosexuals, the issues are passed
over in silence, maybe because there is no penalty for homosexuality in
Turkish law,” Ali Erol of KAOS GL told a conference earlier this week,
according to AFP news agency.
He says that the government’s decision to drop laws
protecting lesbians and gay men from discrimination was not picked up on by
Brussels officials, who are currently considering whether the country should
join the Union.
“While everything is being questioned in the EU, no one
bothered to ask where the (article on) sexual orientation vaporized,” Erol
This is not the first time the issue of sexual diversity
has been raised in the debate on Turkey, which is set to be formally
considered later this year.
The International Lesbian and Gay Association has
previously called for more work to be done in the country to ensure it
promotes tolerance and equality among communities.
Although the country does not criminalize homosexuality,
despite its strong Muslim faith, ILGA says it must face its problems with
sexual diversity if it is to join the EU.
Currently, Turkish legislation does not provide
protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender
identity, ILGA reports.
Additionally, it is the only European NATO state that
still bans LGBT people from joining the army, claiming that same-sex
attraction is a “psychological disorder.”
ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director Patricia Prendiville
says she hopes the process of joining the EU will help push Turkey in the
right direction of LGBT equality.
“I hope that the negotiations will stimulate the
Turkish authorities to comply with the EU standards on LGBT rights and adopt
necessary laws banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and
gender identity,” Prendiville said in a statement.
However, she added that the EU must consider the
country’s current human rights record before committing itself to accession.
“I also hope the EU will pay serious attention to the
human rights situation generally and to the human rights of LGBT people in
particular when negotiating Turkey’s accession to the EU,” she said.
After holding discussions last year, Turkish officials
will meet with EU representatives in October this year to discuss signing on
to the union.