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Gay group faces court challenge in Turkey

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  1. OMAR KUDDUS 31 Jan 2008, 1:46pm

    The Republic of Turkey is a Eurasian country to delineate the border between Asia and Europe, thereby making Turkey transcontinental. Because of its strategic location astride two continents, Turkey’s culture has a unique blend of Eastern and Western tradition. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism. Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), the OECD (1961), the OSCE (1973) and the G20 industrial nations (1999).In line with its traditional Western orientation, relations with Europe have always been a central part of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey became a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, applied for associate membership of the EEC (predecessor of the EU) in 1959 and became an associate member in 1963. After decades of political negotiations, Turkey applied for full membership of the EEC in 1987, became an associate member of the Western European Union in 1992, reached a Customs Union agreement with the EU in 1995 and has officially begun formal accession negotiations with the EU on October 3, 2005.It is believed that the accession process will take at least 15 years due to Turkey’s size and the depth of disagreements over certain issues.Nominally, 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim, The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is largely organized by the state, through the Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Religious Affairs Directorate), which controls all mosques and Muslim clerics. The remainder of the population belongs to other faiths, particularly Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac Orthodox), Judaism, and Yezidism.This perhaps explains why Lambada Istambul is having its problems of acceptance.However if Turkey genuinely wants to join the EU and be part of the Union, it has to accept (like other new members) that it cannot discriminate or pick and chose which laws and amendments it wants to adopt and instigate into law.It has to show that a conscious effort to make all its citizens wishes and lifestyles are adopted into its constitution, and that discrimination is not acceptable, for whatever reason and moral code.Again one finds that religion is trying to govern politics and have an adverse effect on the country and its citizens.Turkey is also the first stop for a large percentage of Iranian, Iraqi, Afghani, Syrian and Arab homosexual refugees who are fleeing persecution for their sexuality, and it is worrying that the main LGBT organisation is having restrictions put upon it, for these individuals, along with local Turkish LGBTs shall suffer in the long run.Pressure needs to be put on our respective governments to show disapproval and that such actions would violate basic human rights and thus also make Turkey unacceptable to join the EU, especially as The Republic of Turkey was one of the first nations to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in April 1949. It has also signed the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 1954 and as such the Turkish Constitution guarantees the fundamental human rights of all Turkish citizens and affirms the secular and democratic nature of the Turkish republic. As a party to the ECHR, decisions of the European Court of Human Rights are legally binding in Turkey. Turkey has also ratified the 1987 European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Punishment in 1988. Nevertheless, its practical human rights record has long continued to attract scrutiny, both internally and externally. As a country currently in accession negotiations with the European Union, Turkey is obliged to ensure consistency of its laws with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, but there are still concerns raised by certain NGOs and the EU, especially with regards to the freedom of expression and the situation of ethnic minorities.

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