UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Turkey

Press Briefing note

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Subject: (1) Turkey

(1) Turkey

We are deeply concerned by recent attacks, discriminatory treatment and incitement to violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey. In the past two weeks alone, reported incidents include the appearance of posters in Ankara encouraging the murder of LGBT people; a violent homophobic attack against a group of young gay men in Istanbul; as well as rape, assault and robbery against Kemal Ördek, a human rights defender and founder of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association. We are further concerned about allegations that in the last case, police officers trivialized the attack, used discriminatory language, tried to dissuade the victim from filing a complaint, and did not provide protection from additional threats by the alleged perpetrators. These incidents follow reports that the police used unwarranted force against individuals who were peacefully assembling and participating in the 13th Istanbul LGBT Pride Parade.

Everyone is entitled to the same fundamental human rights without discrimination or arbitrary restrictions of any kind, including the rights to life, liberty, physical integrity, privacy, equality before the law, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We call on the Turkish authorities to take active measures to combat homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, to uphold the rights of LGBT people to peacefully assemble and express themselves and to ensure that LGBT victims of crimes are treated with respect and dignity and have access to protection mechanisms and effective remedy. This includes publicly condemning violence and hate speech against LGBT people, ensuring that legislation on discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and adopting policies to overcome discriminatory attitudes among public officials, including the police and judiciary.

It is critical for authorities to prevent impunity for these human rights violations through prompt, effective, independent and impartial investigations and prosecution in line with fair trial norms and standards. In that regard, we welcome the commitment by Turkey during the Universal Periodic Review to ensure the investigation, prosecution and punishment of serious human rights violations motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The UN Human Rights Office stands ready to support efforts to this end. [ … ]

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights