Turkey has taken one small step forward for LGBT recognition with, for the very first time, a government minister meeting LGBT representatives.
The Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) Association were invited to a meeting with civil society organizations on Wednesday 21 September to discuss violence against women with Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Şahin.
Belgin Çelik from Pembe Hayat told reporters following the meeting that she had submitted a proposal for the acceptance of homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals in the new constitution that Parliament plans to draft in the coming legislative year.
Şahin encouraged the proposal, saying:
“We would like to actively work with you and your participation and suggestions will help us learn and acknowledge the problems you face.”
Pro-gay Turkish MP Aylin Nazlıaka has asked for LGBT groups to be consulted over the new constitution.
Calling on members of Parliament to handle the proposal positively, Şahin said:
"If freedom and equality is for everybody, then sexual orientation discrimination should be eliminated and rights of these [LGBT] citizens should be recognized.”
However Turkish MPs may face a problem reading any proposals. A report last week said that web access in the Turkish Parliament to the websites of various LGBT organisations is blocked and workers or MPs have to submit a written request for them to be unblocked.
Blocking of LGBT and other online content is widespread in Turkey, in May there was a huge protest against the internet “filtering” system.
"BTK (The Information Technologies and Communication Authority) has determined some banned words from domain names. “gay” and “lesbian” are on this list. Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) Association, an LGBT organization in Ankara, has been warned by their web hosting company saying their website might be shut down. There is no pornographic content whatsoever on Pembe Hayat’s website but they have been warned just because they use those words."
In June Amnesty International published 'Not an illness nor a crime': Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey demand equality'. It said:
“…not a single provision has been brought before Parliament to protect the right to non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Instead, there has been a long line of discriminatory statements by government officials from which the government has failed to distance itself or issue apologies for.”