European Committee on Social Rights finds Turkey in breach of its obligations under the European Social Charter

26/02/2013

The European Committee on Social Rights has ruled that Turkey is in breach of its obligations under the Social Charter on account of its failure to provide protection against sexual orientation discrimination in employment, and its treatment of LGB people in the Armed Forces.

In its Conclusions on Turkey's report under the 2012 national reporting cycle, addressing Article 1.2 of the Charter (non-discrimination in employment), it comments:

"The Committee previously noted that discrimination on the grounds of age and sexual orientation did not figure in the list of grounds of prohibited discrimination. It has repeatedly asked whether the said “any other similar ground” includes these two grounds for discrimination and what measures have been taken to combat these types of discrimination."

The current report fails to provide any confirmation that these are protected grounds. Furthermore the Committee notes that the report states that there have been no cases concerning any form of discrimination before the courts. The Committee therefore concludes that Turkey has failed to demonstrate that persons alleging discrimination in particular on grounds of age or sexual orientation are adequately protected and more widely that the protection against discrimination on the grounds required by the Charter is adequate and finds that the situation is not in conformity with the Charter.

It notes that according to an EU accession report comprehensive anti-discrimination law is still lacking and Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT) continued to suffer discrimination, intimidation and violent crimes. (Extract from the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council "Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2011-2012", COM(2011)666 final).

In addition it notes from submissions received from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (European Region) (ILGA) on the 4th National Report by Turkey on the implementation of the revised European Social Charter quoting the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner’s Report comments: "In Turkey, Article 17 of the appendix of the Armed Forces Health Regulation, 55 states that gay men are "unfit to serve" in the army. Therefore there is a ban on LGBT persons from serving in the armed forces. The Committee asks for the Government’s comments on this.

The Committee notes that a Bill on establishing a Committee for Equality and Fight against Discrimination has been drafted, further a task Force on the Fight against Discrimination will be established in order to assist the drafting of a framework law prohibiting discrimination in line with the EU acquis. The Committee asks to be kept informed of all developments in this respect.

Conclusion

The Committee concludes that the situation in Turkey is not in conformity with Article 1§2 of the Charter on the grounds that

"there is insufficient protection against discrimination in employment, in particular on grounds of age and sexual orientation."

Implementation of this conclusion will be referred to an intergovernmental committee which monitors the application of the Charter.

ILGA-Europe also raised the question of gender identity discrimination in employment with the Committee, but regrettably, this was not taken up.

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The full report of the Social Charter committee can be found here

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