Turkey: Gender Diversity is a human right!

IDAHOT Day: EuroMed Rights stresses its solidarity with organisations and LGBTQI+ activists fighting for their rights in Turkey and across the region.

This statement is also available in Turkish on this link.

Created in 2004, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT Day) marks its 18th year of existence today. And yet, after all these years, LGBTQI+ rights continue being violated across the Euro-Mediterranean region.

One salient example is Turkey where protection for LGBTQI+ communities has steadily shrunk over time. In the past four years for instance, Turkey has ranked 48th out of 49 countries in ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index which measures countries on their LGBTI equality laws and policies. This severe degradation can only worsen following President Erdogan’s unilateral decision to withdraw Turkey from the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) in 2021.

Since President Erdogan took power, there has been a shift from civil society-led progress to increasing authoritarianism specifically targeting LGBTQI+ communities. Political leaders, members of the government and pro-government media spread hate discourses which, in turn, have fuelled hate speeches on social media and in real life. One example is the 2021 handling of the Bogazici University student protest which led to the detention of several protestors. Pride celebrations, usually held around June, have effectively been banned and the few celebrations organised are heavily policed and often lead to police brutality.

This situation contributed to EuroMed Rights’ decision to launch a monitoring tool to track these backlashes. EuroMed Rights takes this opportunity to stress its commitment to continue working alongside LGBTIQ+ activists in Turkey to implement the following:

  • The removal of barriers preventing the effective exercise of freedom of assembly and association for LGBTQI+ organisations,
  • The inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) in an equality action plan accompanied by a specific mechanism to measure implementation progress,
  • Enhanced legal protection for LGBTQI+ communities notably by expressly referring, within the Constitution, to sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

Read in Turkish at this link.