Turkey’s new draft army bill still punishes gays and trans

Turkish government’s revised draft regulation for the army continues to criminalize gay and transgender people as ‘unnatural intercourse’ and will be used as reason for discrimination and punishment  

Turkey’s new draft army bill still punishes gays and trans
08 January 2013

The Turkish government submitted a new draft regulation for the Turkish Armed Forces that retains the article ‘unnatural intercourse’ which has been used to stigmatize and punish LGBT people.

Turkish LGBT rights group accuses the government of colluding with the army to preserve anti-gay and trans measures.

The draft which was introduced to the public in the new year on the website of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party (AKP) , was hailed by the press as ‘new’ and ‘historical’.

The current ‘old’ law defines homosexuality, under Article 153 of the Military Criminal Code, as an ‘unnatural intercourse’ and a crime which is often used to exclude gays from military services as well as punishment and grounds for dismissal.

The ‘new’ draft retains exactly the same definition listing homosexuality as an ‘unnatural intercourse’, and was introduced to parliament despite being previously criticized

In 2004 the Turkish parliament discussed the meaning of ‘unnatural intercourse’ under the new Turkish Penal code and agreed it does not apply to homosexuality (only to necrophilia and other non heterosexual and homosexual sexual acts).

KAOS GL, an LGBT advocacy organization based in Ankara, the nation’s capital accused the AKP of colluding with the Turkish Armed Forces anti-gay policies.

In a statement it said: ‘ The new draft which allegedly contains “new, historical changes” will not cover the rights and dignity of gay soldiers within the Turkish Army.

‘Instead, the government’s definition of homosexuality as a "crime" and repeating the discriminatory attitude, demonstrates that AKP is in line with the archaic understanding of Turkish Armed Forces’.

In Turkey, compulsory military service applies to all male Turkish citizens between the ages of 18 and 41.

However, the Turkish military openly discriminates against what they deem as passive and effeminate gays by barring them from serving in the military.

Active and masculine appearing gays and bisexuals are, until this draft regulation takes effect, serve able to serve in the Turkish military.

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.

In the letter the parliamentarians pointed out that the treatment is contrary to international human rights law.

The letter emphasized the importance of stopping this human rights violation: ‘We call upon the Turkish authorities to cease this degrading treatment of gay men, and to enable them to serve in the armed forces once the training and disciplinary measures have been taken to ensure that they can serve without danger of violence and discrimination’.

It seems that the Turkish government has ignored both the letter and the report.

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