Human Rights

We need laws for equality!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lawyers discussed the importance of laws regarding LGBTI+ rights and possible ways to overcome legal barriers.

In the first session of the International Conference on Gender and Law, legal struggle of LGBTI+s, fuction of the law within the human rights field of LGBTI+s and process towards LGBTI+ refugees have taken to the agenda. With the moderation of Lawyer Kerem Dikmen from Kaos GL, “What can law achieve for the struggle for access to rights? What are the barriers and solutions?” questions have been discussed by Lawyer Neva Övnç Öztürk from Ankara University, Lawyer Oya Aydın from Ankara Bar Association and Lawyer Faika Deniz Pasha from Queer Cyprus.

Lawyer Faika Deniz Pasha from Queer Cyprus took the stage firstly in the session. She summarized their struggle since 2007 to remove the law criminalizing “sexual intercourse against nature” inherited from the colonial times. Emphasizing the effect of LGBTI+ movement in Cyprus with the support of MPs and feminist organizations, Pasha told that they could achieve changing the law in 2014 with the facilitation of ECHR.

At the end of her speech, Pasha told what has not changed even after the amendment of the law:

“We were also planning that hate speech would be punished, but it did not happen. We could remove hate from laws, but it remains in the mentality. After the amendment, we had a billboard campaign on awareness raising, but it was attacked. However, we still think that we achieved to make the issue discussed in the society. We can march openly in 1st of May and 17th of May. During Pride Week, political parties and municipalities hang rainbow flags in their buildings. Now we are working on changing the family law. This process has also transformed the bar associations.”

Secondly, Oya Aydın from Ankara Bar Association as well as one of the first lawyers of Kaos GL gave a general overview of the legal perspective on LGBTI+ human rights. Reminding the criticisms of queer, leftists and anarchist movements against legal struggle of LGBTI+s, Aydın told about the effects of rising right-wing populism on LGBTI+ rights achievements all over the world.

“Rising right-wing populism makes us worried about the achievements that LGBTI+ movement gained, because the populism wave has started to attack our rights on gender equality such as right to get married as LGBTI+s, right to abortion, etc. “

At last, Neva Övünç Öztürk from Ankara University shared the issues related sexual orientation and gender identity in refugee law. Öztürk discussed the situation of LGBTI+ refugees with respect to national and international laws.

Reminding that authorities taking care of any issues related to LGBTI+ refugees have to have sexual orientation and gender identity awareness and got trained if necessary, Öztürk stated that in almost all of the countries that Turkey receive immigration, sexual orientation is criminalized.

This activity is organised within the scope of Awareness and Advocacy for Human Rights of LGBTIs Project which is supported by the EU. This does not mean that content of the conference reflects the EU's official views.

Related content:

International Conference on Gender and Law has started


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