September 22, 2011

IconTurkish minister backs LGBT rights

Turkey’s government looks set to consider protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people from discrimination during an overhaul of the country’s constitution.

Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin expressed her support for a proposal to include LGBT rights in the new Turkish constitution after meeting with representatives from the Pink Life Association. The group became the first LGBT organisation to participate in a meeting with the Turkish government after they were invited to a discussion on violence against women.

“[Provisions for] sexual identities, the rights of the gay community and sexual orientation should be included in the new constitution,” stated Belgin Çelik of the Pink Life Association.

“Many transsexual individuals have to work as sex workers and therefore have to deal with street gangs and their violence,” she added, arguing that protection from discrimination on the grounds of gender identity also be considered.

Şahin declared that she would support the work of LGBT groups. “We would like to actively work with you and your participation and suggestions will help us learn and acknowledge the problems you face,” she said.

“If freedom and equality is for everybody, then sexual orientation discrimination should be eliminated and rights of these citizens should be recognized.”

The proposals are likely to encounter resistance from politicians and religious leaders. “Gays and lesbians want equality, can we give it to them? Of course we will not,” said Constitutional Commission Chairman Burhan Kuzu.

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