Turkey Jails Trans Activists for ‘Insulting Police’


Three transgender activists in Turkey were sentenced to prison on October 25 for ‘resisting the police.’

The three are the founders of the Ankara-based transgender rights organization Pembe Hayat (“Pink Life”). One, Naz Gudumen, was sentenced to one year for “insulting the police” and 6 months for “resisting the police.”

Kemal Ordek, Secretary General of Pembe Hayat said:

“We are shocked of the court rulings!.. The justice is not justice in Turkey for trans individuals; and especially for trans human rights defenders!”

Human Rights Watch and others have long been campaigning for all charges to be dropped.

Four police officers from the Esat Police Station in Ankara stopped the car in which the activists were riding at about 10:30 p.m. on May 17,  2010 and accused them of intending to commit sex work. The women phoned for help, prompting 25 local human rights observers to go to the scene.

The police forced the activists out of the car, beat them with batons, kicked them and sprayed them with tear gas. Witnesses told the human rights organizations that the police screamed at the activists, “faggots, next time we will kill you!”

Police handcuffed the women, forced them to kneel and beat their heads and legs while one policeman told them their activism would not protect them. All the women, visibly bruised, were forced into a police van and taken to the police station. Police held them in custody until the next morning.

Following a familiar pattern in Turkey, the five were speedily charged with resisting the police, before the prosecutor had concluded an investigation into their complaint of ill-treatment.

Lawyers for the three will now appeal the sentences.

Last month a Turkish government Minister held an historic meeting with the organization.

In June, Amnesty International published ‘Not an illness nor a crime: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey demand equality.‘ It said:

“Transgender women in particular face the greatest barriers to entering employment and are in a great many cases forced to engage in illegal sex work.”

“Nearly every transgender woman that Amnesty International spoke to in early 2011 described being subjected to extreme violence — including sexual violence — by police officers in police stations in previous years.”

“The issuing of fines by police officers — using both the Misdemeanor Law and the Traffic Law — has become the principal method of harassing transgender women.”

Last week there was another killing of a transgender person in Turkey, this time an ‘honor killing.’


Related Stories:

Will Turkey Listen to LGBT Representatives?

One Trans Person Is Murdered Every Other Day

Amnesty Calls on Turkey to Protect Its LGBT Citizens


Photo credit:alp klanten


Stephan B.
Stephan B6 years ago

Turkey seems to keep its biggest scandal hushed. That would be sex between men who don't think it is acceptable . Lawrence of Arabia, T.E. Lawrence, was rapped while in the capture. But they can't call it homosexual because it is brutal; more like prison sex. Just gratification and consensual and verrry quiet.

Ray Lovelace
Lindell Lovelace6 years ago

Poor, scared, transphobic, barbarous piggies!

Donegal Higgins
Past Member 6 years ago

And this is a country that is regarded as progressive in the Middle East.

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S6 years ago

Turkey wants to be admitted to the European Union & has made some efforts to conform their laws to the EU's, like eliminating the death penalty, & they have recently agreed to return all confiscated property that was taken from the 3 million Assyrian, Armenian & Greek Christians they ethnically cleansed & committed genocide against in the early 20th century, though the persecution of the few Christians left continues to this day, but they have still refused to admit to this genocide despite all the evidence & witnesses for it. Their treatment of LGBT people, while probably the best for an Islamic country (just prison instead of death), still has a long way to go.

Why aren't these LGBT people taking their persecution to the European Court of Human Rights, which Turkey is a signatory to & agreed to abide by EU human rights laws which stricly forbid this kind of behavior?

It's good to focus attention on these acts because Turkey is sensitive to these things right now, but they have also been persecuting the gay people who have fled for their lives from neighboring Islamic Law governed Iran where they ARE killed.

There was a recent article here on Turkish occupied northern Cyprus & persecution of a gay man there.

The only good news out of all of this is that it will keep Turkey out of the EU!

Mary L.
Mary L6 years ago

Thank you for the report. How horrific.

Brian M.
Past Member 6 years ago

Turkey is in the middle of a genocidal campaign against the Kurds at present; one wonders how they found the time to oppress anyone else. Behavior quite typical for an American ally.

Leslea Herber
Leslea Herber6 years ago

The reason that such hate exists, is that Trans people are the ultimate way to refuse to toe societal expectations. It's a line that's literally taboo to cross. End result, extreme violence, extreme hate, extreme ignorance toward them and their mere existence. The actions of the police, while severely inappropriate, are typical of the hatred used against Trans people.

We cause fear, hate, revulsion. Not because we try to, but because people CHOOSE to react that way.

Heather McGuirk
Heather McGuirk6 years ago

The violence against transgendered people breaks my heart. Why is this so threatening to some people? Why react with hatred or violence?

pam w.
pam w6 years ago

AND--don't forget that Turkey is sometimes mentioned as a paragon of Islamic democracy.

(I'm just saying.....)

Matilda H.
Past Member 6 years ago

One year in prison for insulting someone? Turkey's got some serious problems, dude.