The Turkish Armed Forces is set to introduce a new regulation that essentially states to gay soldiers: ‘If you come out – you’ll be expelled, if you stay in the closet – we’ll do nothing’.
The old articles of ‘unnatural intercourse’ and ‘psychosexual disorders’ as reasons to dismiss a soldier from the army, are to be replaced with a new criteria: ‘sexual identity and behavioral patterns should be dominant and apparent in every part of life’.
According to Ali Erol from Turkey’s main LGBT organization, Kaos GL, any soldier who is out in the army will thus be expelled after a military ‘medical report’ is submitted and approved by the Turkish Ministry of National Defence that establishes the criteria above.
Turkish LGBT association have sharply criticized the new regulation, labelling it discriminatory and a violation of human rights.
‘The military defines homosexuality as a psychosexual disorder. But when a member of the military staff is homosexual, he is considered guilty of a disciplinary crime.
‘This is discrimination on a double scale’.
Erol also said the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had decided against Turkey’s discriminatory practices previously and if this new regulation was enacted to prevent further lawsuits, it would fail.
‘The ECHR ruling is clear. A person’s sexual orientation cannot be considered nor treated as a crime, and any practice that suggests this would be labeled as sexual orientation discrimination. This term is not referred to in our legal framework, unfortunately; it is acknowledged by the EHCR and any future lawsuit about the practice will be treated as before’, he said.
In Turkey, compulsory military service applies to all male Turkish citizens between the ages of 18 and 41.
LGBT people who wish to be conscientious objectors to military service must instead identify themselves as ‘sick’ – and are forced to undergo what Human Rights Watch calls ‘humiliating and degrading’ examinations to ‘prove’ their homosexuality.
In October 2009 the report of the EU Commission on enlargement stated blasted the Turkish Army’s anti-gay and trans policy.
On 26 April 2012, 22 Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have expressed concern about the degrading treatment applied to gays and trans women by excluding them from service in the Turkish Armed Forces, and called for this practice to be halted.
It seems that the Turkish government has ignored both the letter and the report.