Turkish campaigners look to expand constitutional protections for LGBT community

Activists in Turkey are working to secure more constitutional protections for the LGBT community, despite opposition from the conservative ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).  Turkey has a relatively moderate record when it comes to LGBT rights – homosexuality has been decriminalized since the mid-1800s, and the country accepts asylum seekers who have been persecuted against because of their LGBT status.

The campaigners hope to amend the Turkish Constitution to recognize and include protections for individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  In particular, LGBT advocacy groups would like to change Article 10 of the Constitution, which defines the country’s “equal treatment principle,” and enact hate crimes legislation that is LGBT inclusive.

Recently, such reforms were introduced in Parliament for debate by two opposition parties.  After a week of debate, however, the AKP voted to kill the proposals.  Underlining the need for further protections, Istanbul’s annual gay pride parade was subsequently forcefully disbanded by police, allegedly because it was scheduled to take place during Ramadan.

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