LGBT gains recognition from government for first time

Fatma Şahin

September 21, 2011, Wednesday/ 17:38:00

Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Şahin, who met with civil society organizations on Wednesday to discuss violence against women, also invited a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender [LGBT] organization  to the meeting, the first time the LGBT community has been represented at a meeting organized by the government.

Belgin Çelik from LGBT organization the Pink Life Association expressed her gratitude to Minister Şahin and told reporters following the meeting that she had submitted a proposal for the acceptance of homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals in the new constitution that Parliament plans to draft in the coming legislative year.

Şahin encouraged the proposal, saying, “We would like to actively work with you and your participation and suggestions will help us learn and acknowledge the problems you face.”

Calling on members of Parliament to handle the proposal positively, which concerns gender identity and sexual orientation, Şahin asserted that “if freedom and equality is for everybody, then sexual orientation discrimination should be eliminated and rights of these [LGBT] citizens should be recognized.”

New standards for women shelters

Şahin also commented on new reforms discussed last month that aim to improve the standards of shelters. Şahin told reporters at the meeting that it is not right for women who face all kinds of problems, including abuse, prostitution and economic hardship, to live together in the same place and that these women should be separated into different rooms or shelters depending on their problems so that there needs can be best served.

According to the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, there are only 65 shelters in the entire country, which is insufficient with the rising number of women suffering from abuse. Şahin said a law stipulating that women’s shelters should be opened in all cities and districts with a population of more than 50,000 would be considered by Parliament.

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