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Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, A/HRC/23/47/Add.2, 18 March 2013: Turkey

III. Challenges to respect of the right to life by non-State actors

C. Killings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals

47. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals are also particularly vulnerable to attacks, including lethal attacks, in Turkey. This occurs in the context of a generally hostile climate towards LGBT individuals, who often face discrimination and intimidation as well as negative stereotyping, including from high-level public figures and law enforcement agents. According to information provided by non-governmental organizations, there were eight murders in 2011 and 12 murders in 2010 that are believed to have been committed on the grounds of the victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity.

48. In Turkey, killings of LGBT individuals usually occur either in the context of expression of hate or as part of the phenomenon of honour killings. With regard to hate-related incidents, the Special Rapporteur heard information on the lack of comprehensive specific legislation regarding hate speech and hate crimes, as well as a general absence of language on gender identity and sexual orientation in Turkish legislation, including in the most recent legislative texts. This creates a gap in the legal framework with regard to the protection of LGBT individuals.

49. Another difficulty lies in the attitude of family members of LGBT individuals, who, sometimes due to so-called honour motives, insist that the investigation files in cases of murder are closed as soon as possible. Family members can also perpetrate murders of LGBT individuals in the name of honour. A prominent case concerns Ahmet Yildiz, a 26 year old man believed to have been killed in 2008 by his father who viewed his son’s homosexuality as disgraceful to the family. Ahmet Yildiz reportedly addressed the Prosecution Office three times to seek protection against death threats, but his requests were never followed up with a protection order.

50. There appears to be a trend in Turkey for law enforcement officers and the judiciary to take a lenient attitude towards crimes against LGBT individuals. LGBT individuals are rarely treated seriously when they seek protection, and investigations and prosecution of crimes against them display fundamental shortcomings, leading to impunity of perpetrators. This was also confirmed by reports from other organizations.[11] Problems related to reprisals and lighter sentencing of perpetrators, which have considerable application to the killings of LGBT individuals and failures of accountability for such crimes in Turkey, will be addressed in chapter IV of this report.

IV. Fight against impunity

Prosecutorial and judicial discretion

78. Even in cases where the perpetrator is charged with killing, sentences are sometimes significantly reduced by the judge further to a finding of “unjust provocation” under article 29 of the Turkish Penal Code, whereby the defendant is considered less culpable because he acted under so-called provocation. The application of this principle can be inappropriate, for example, in some cases of honour killings and killings of LGBT individuals, where judges may, on the basis of their own moral convictions, impose a lighter sentence for murder.

79. In other cases, judges apparently reduce the sentence because of the “good conduct” of the defendant during legal proceedings. According to interlocutors, there is a tendency to reduce sentences in particular in cases of violence against women, killings of LGBT individuals or offences perpetrated by law enforcement officials.

VII. Recommendations

Right to life and non-State actors

110. To reduce the vulnerable situation of LGBT individuals, Turkish legislation should be reviewed to include language sensitive to gender identity and sexual orientation.

114. Awareness-raising campaigns as well as training of security officials and professionals of the judiciary should continue with regard to the rights of women and gender equality, and should be launched on the rights of LGBT individuals.

Fight against impunity

121. “Unjust provocation” should not be misused as a mitigating factor in cases which involve alleged morality motives as a cause of killing, in particular in cases of honour killings and killing of LGBT individuals. “Good conduct” during legal proceedings should also not be used to reduce the sentences in such cases.

Link to full text of the report: Report-SREJE-Turkey-2013-eng


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. 11. Report by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights following his visit to Turkey from 10 to 14 October 2011 (CommDH(2012)2), 10 January 2012, para. 57.