Human Rights Defenders urge UN to take immediate action on LGBT+ rights in Turkey

After religious leaders linked COVID-19 to LGBT+ people, the UN have been called on to stop a rise in hate speech and discrimination.

Turkey UN

The Solidarity Network of Human Rights Defenders have called on the UN (United Nations) Special Rapporteurs to take urgent action against the violation of LGBT+ rights in Turkey.

In a joint letter, constituents of the Solidarity Network of Human Rights Defenders requested support for queer rights amidst a rise in discriminatory politics. They state, “Recent events form part of a series of systematic attacks against LGBTI+ people, fuelling an atmosphere of violence and intolerance. This constitutes a violation of Turkey’s obligations under domestic and international law, which guarantee the rights and freedoms of all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The joint letter to the UN was published in response to continuous discrimination and hate speech aimed at the LGBT+ community in Turkey. It referenced a sermon in April 2020 by the head of Directorate for Religious Affairs, Ali Erbaş, which insinuated queer people were to blame for the spread of COVID-19.

Following the sermon, senior director of the Turkey programme at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, DC and a former member of the Turkish parliament, Aykan Erdemir, told Al Jazeera, “Instead of taking responsibility for the egregious mistakes in its own handling of the public health challenges, the Diyanet has chosen to make vulnerable groups a target of hate crimes.”

The letter further states, “In the month of June 2020 hashtags demanding the prohibition of LGBTI+ activities and a boycott of Turkish companies who expressed solidarity with global Pride Day were trending on Twitter. The use of the hashtag #YallahHollandaya (“go to Holland”), which has become a popular homophobic slur in Turkey.” 

“Additionally, the hashtag #DecathlonBoykot (“Boycott Decathlon”) was trending on Twitter after the retailer posted support for Pride month on social media. However, other brands, such as the large retail brand LC Waikiki, prohibited the use of symbols associated with the LGBTI+ movement, such as rainbows and unicorns. 50 associations and foundations released a joint statement calling for a boycott of the brands supporting the pride and LGBTI+ rights,” it continues. 

The Solidarity Network of Human Rights Defenders are appealing for the UN Special Rapporteurs to take action towards preventing political and religious leaders in Turkey from inciting hatred and violence aimed at the LGBT+ community. They are also requesting for the Government and its public officials to uphold their obligations of protecting the rights of all individuals. 

In May 2020, ILGA Europe released a similar statement demanding authorities take action towards securing queer rights are fully protected. They wrote, “The attacks on the LGBTI community unfortunately have become exemplary of efforts by the Turkish government to undermine human rights and the rule of law in the country.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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