Human Rights group Amnesty International has issued a new report condemning Turkey for ignoring violence and discrimination against the country’s LGBT population.
The 50-page report, entitled “Not an illness nor a crime: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey demand equality,” highlights that hate crimes against LGBTs are pervasive but ignored by the Turkish government. The report stresses that trans women are left particularly vulnerable and are subject to a disproportionately high number of incidents without legal protection or remedy.
Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey, said:
“The pervasive prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey and the fear of ostracism and attacks, means that many feel compelled to conceal their sexual orientation, even from their families.
“Homophobic statements by government officials have encouraged discrimination against individuals. Rather than repeat past failures, the new government must respect and protect their rights through words and actions.
“It is the responsibility of all the parties in the Parliament to ensure that any new constitutional settlement in Turkey outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexuality or gender identity.
“Comprehensive legislation to counter discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is a must – and it should come as soon as possible. However, the authorities must also show the political will to combat discrimination by demonstrating that homophobic public discourse is unacceptable.”
The report also found that, not only do police officials leave trans women vulnerable, there is evidence to suggest that they actively pursue them to levy arbitrary, and that this occurs on a day to day basis.
Discriminatory practices have also been found among the judiciary. Though no laws explicitly sanction penalties for trans identity, the report found evidence to suggest that the judiciary has invoked overreaching penalties for trans individuals who, for instance, may have turned to sex work because they cannot find employment elsewhere due to the fierce discrimination they face.
Hate crimes against same-sex couples have also been neglected by police officials who do not always follow up charges of bias motivated crimes if they are investigated at all, says the report.
Amnesty International is calling on the Turkish government to take a firm stance against anti-LGBT discrimination and put in place legislative and policy safeguards to prevent this kind of stigmatization and victimization.
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