LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey

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Call for Action: on the Latest Developments in Türkiye Regarding LGBTI+ Rights

19 Oct

Statement of ERA member organisation SPoD: 
On the 5th of October, the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his group meeting in the parliament that his party has been working on a new “civil” and “democratic” constitution for a while. He demanded a constitutional amendment to include “strengthening the institution of the family”. During his speech, Erdogan defined the “family institution” by saying “let’s not just stop there, let’s also strengthen our family institution consisting of the unity of women and men, and make additional changes that will enable us to look to our future with confidence”. President Erdogan instructed the Ministry of Justice and the party leadership to propose constitutional guarantees for the headscarf and a constitutional amendment that includes “strengthening the family institution”. 
The Article 41 of the current constitution of Türkiye defines the family as “The family is the foundation of Turkish society and is based on equality between spouses”. However, in his speech, Erdogan defined the family as an institution “consisting of the union of men and women”. The government sources say that it is not clear how a regulation will be made regarding the protection of the family. However, “The redefinition of the family in some European countries” was shown as an example regulation. The “Hungarian model” is an example in the backstage about the regulation or legal restrictive measures known as “propaganda ban” in Russia. On the other hand, the opposition is silent against the ruling party’s anti-LGBTI+ discourse and the legislation debate. We are highly concerned about the anti-LGBTI+ legislation debate and the silence of the opposition. The passing of such a regulation by the parliament will multiply the rights violations that LGBTI+s is exposed to in many areas, including the right to life. However, even if the law is not passed, this debate and silence on this issue normalizes the violation of LGBTI+’s rights and dehumanizes LGBTI+s. 
The ruling party also promotes anti-gender and anti-LGBTI+ discourse on behalf of protecting children and youth from “degeneration” of national culture. The president, the state officials, and pro-AKP media organizations constantly target LGBTI+s as “perverts” and “foreign forces” since 2015. By doing so, the ruling party aims to erase LGBTI+ advocacy and its organizations from public areas and put LGBTI+s back in the closet. 
As Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD), we call all our partners and allies:
-To show their support to LGBTI+ people in Türkiye on social media and traditional press organs,
-To disseminate our message to all the related partners such as government officials and embassies in your countries to raise this topic in bilateral talks with Turkish officials, 
-To promote co-operation between LGBTI+ activists and international human rights organizations and their embassy representatives in Türkiye, 
-To exercise influence on the member of the parliament of Council of Europe in order them to raise the challenges that LGBTI+ people face in Türkiye, 
– To put pressure on political parties in Türkiye to defend LGBTI+ rights publicly and not to subordinate LGBTI+ rights to their election campaign strategies. 

Country - Turkey