15/05/2009 | Writer: KAOS GL

May 15, 2009
Hurriyet Daily News

A recent trend of breaking taboos in Turkey, including a top government official

Amid a recent flare-up of discussions about homosexuality in Turkey, representatives from a range of areas in society have come together for a meeting in Ankara in an attempt to confront the prevalence of homophobia in the country.

The Turkish media was engrossed yesterday in the legal battle of a football referee who had to quit his job because of his sexual orientation. The referee was forced to leave his post because he had withdrawn from his compulsory military service on account of his homosexuality being documented in a medical report. In line with referee regulations, a related article states that anybody who fails to complete his military service for health reasons is unfit to perform as a referee.

Another controversy on the issue that also drew attention yesterday was sparked when the columnist for the daily Zaman, Ali Bulac, said the crimes committed against civilians in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq were carried out by homosexuals. Academics have described the remark as discriminatory, while lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, organizations said: "He is in search of a mask for his homophobia."

Amid this climate of debate, Ankara is hosting the 4th International Anti-Homophobia Meeting, where academics, politicians, rights organizations and representatives from the LGBT groups note the problems of homophobia and transgender-phobia for discussion. The meeting also covers Izmir, Eskisehir, Van, Diyarbakir and Istanbul and will run until May 17. The meeting started May 1 and covers a symbolic timeframe between May Day and the International Day Against Homophobia.

"Turkey is currently dealing with many issues, including the Kurdish issue but homosexual discrimination is the only issue that has not been highlighted as a problem," said Ali Erol, founder of the leading Ankara-based LGBT organization, Kaos GL.

"With this meeting, we are trying to create a stage where the issue can at least be discussed. Many academics and experts try to produce thoughts on the issue within the frame of this meeting. The politics, however, is our dead-end street."

He said there were some politicians who were sensitive to the issue, as evidenced by the efforts of the Freedom and Solidarity Party, or
Tags: human rights