Turkey: Discrimination and Violence Against Women on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Shadow Report on Turkey Submitted to the 46th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women

Prepared by LGBT Rights Platform:

  • Kaos GL Association
  • Lambdaistanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association
  • Purplehand Eskisehir LGBTT Initiative
  • Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association
  • Piramid LGBTT Diyarbakir Initiative
  • Black Pink Triangle Izmir Association

Turkey – General Situation

Even though there are no laws in Turkey against lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women, these women are subject to many problems and handicaps in their daily lives due to many prejudices, social oppressions, and members of the executive and judiciary branches of the state, such as the police, judges and prosecutors, who project their personal viewpoints to their professional work. As the LGBT Right Platform, we offer this report for consideration in the 46th session of CEDAW. The report comprises detailed information on the CEDAW articles that Turkey is in breach of, with court decisions, research findings, issues that received media coverage, and eyewitness accounts.

Lesbians and Bisexual Women

Lambdaistanbul LGBT Initiative, which formed Lambdaistanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association, interviewed 396 gay and bisexual individuals in 2005 to investigate their problems. 1 151 participants of this research were women, and it was found that 48% of lesbian and bisexual women in Turkey are afraid of being left alone because of social oppression, while 64% are forced into marriages by their families and acquaintances. The participants were asked about the reactions of others when they came out. In reaction to their coming out, 82% of the participants were faced with the question “how do you have sex?” and 74% “are you top or bottom?” Gay and bisexual women, who are generally perceived as sexual objects, often have to deal with such questions. Despite the fact that homosexuality is not an illness according to modern medicine, 50% of the participants were pressured into a psychiatrist or a therapist. Some of those who did go to a psychiatrist or a therapist were subject to negative attitudes of the said expert. (i.e. The expert viewed homosexuality as an illness: 27%, the expert didn’t have enough information on homosexuality: 45%, the expert pressured the patient into becoming a heterosexual: 24%, the expert forced medication on the patient although they denied it: 24%) Similar reactions and pressures to alter gay and bisexual women’s sexual orientations exist in society in general. 66% of the participants were told that they “feel this way because you haven’t met the right man yet,” while 65% told that “this is a phase you’re going through,” and 51% were asked if they were treated badly by some members of the opposite sex.

Transgender Women

Lambdaistanbul LGBT Solidarity Association interviewed 116 transgender women in person and inquired into the problems they are having.2 39.7% of the participants said that they considered suicide because of the pressures they faced based on their identity, while 32.8% of these did attempt suicide. According these findings, transgender women are subject to severe violence from several sections of the society. The groups with the highest ratio of committing physical violence are: Members of the police force outside of detention (90.5%), strangers (79.3%), and clients of sex workers (73.3%). The groups with the highest ratio of bullying and making derogatory comments are: Members of the police force outside of detention (92.2%), clients of sex workers (69.8%), and drivers of public transport vehicles (56%). The groups with the highest ratio of committing sexual abuse are: strangers (78.4%), members of the police force outside of detention (70.7%), clients of sex workers (56.9%), and drivers of public transport vehicles (53.4%). The groups that refuse to provide service: Members of the police force outside of detention (75%), drivers of public transport vehicles (73.3%), and workers like waiters, bartenders and market owners (56.9%). The groups that threaten or blackmail: Strangers (73.3%), members of the police force outside of detention (73.3%), clients of sex workers (50.9%). Download the full report »