Protect Transgender Rights in Turkey

  • by: Care2
  • recipient: Mr. Sadullah Ergin, Ministry of Justice
Three members of Pink Life, the leading transgender rights organization in Turkey were arbitrarily arrested, beaten and sentenced to prison time. We believe they were targeted for being transgender and working to promote transrights in Turkey.

This petition asks the Turkish Minister of Justice to drop the charge against the Pink Life activists and to enact laws to protect the human rights of its transgender citizens.
We, the undersigned, express our deepest concern at the recent conviction of three human rights defenders from the organization Pembe Hayat, LGBTT (Pink Life, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual Solidarity Association), which is an organization based in Ankara that works to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence motivated by homophobia and transphobia.
On July 19th 2010, three human rights defenders and founding members of Pink Life, were arbitrarily arrested by police officers in the Cankaya district of Ankara. Stopped without any legal reason, they were pulled from their car, arrested and subjected to police brutality. These three human rights defenders were detained and abused because of their trans identity and human rights activism. On October 24, 2011 all three individuals were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five months to one and a half years.
Police mistreatment of transgender human rights defenders violates Turkey's own laws, including Article 10 (which guarantees the equality of all citizens before the law without discrimination), Article 20 (which protects an individual's privacy) and Article 23 (which guarantees freedom of movement) of the Turkish Constitution.
Furthermore, the discriminatory treatment of transgender people in Turkey contradicts international human rights law. The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, recommended that member states, hate crime legislation which affords specific protection for transgender persons against transphobic crimes and incidents. In its 2011 Progress Report, the European Commission reiterated Turkey's obligation to provide genuine protections to all minorities, including LGBT people. The European Parliament affirmed this obligation on February 10, 2010, reminding the Turkish government that the protection of LGBT minorities is a non-negotiable condition for entry into the European Union.
We believe that arbitrary arrests, fines, physical abuse and prison sentences are tools for deterring human rights activism on behalf of the transgender community in Turkey. We call on the Turkish Government to take legal and policy-based actions to stop the persecution of transgender people.

We formally request that:
1. All criminal charges against Ms. Kakaya, Ms. Tuna, and Ms. Gamen relating to their arrest in 2010 be dropped immediately.
2. An independent investigation be launched into the discriminatory treatment by the police and courts of transgender people under the pretext of implementing the law.
3. Laws that are often used to target transgender individuals, such as the Law on Misdemeanors, be amended or revoked.
4. The Police Duty and Authority Law, and other laws governing the powers and duties of the police, be amended to prevent police officers from harassing transgender individuals and human rights defenders and to hold them accountable when they do.
5. The Turkish government pass legislation to protect the rights of transgender people, including, inter alia, a non-discrimination law inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and a law prohibiting hate crimes motivated by homophobia and transphobia.
6. Comprehensive national training for law enforcement officials on the treatment of vulnerable minorities, including transgender people, to prevent future cases of police harassment, brutality and mistreatment.
Thank you for taking the time to review our requests and for taking immediate action to protect the rights of your transgender citizens.

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