HRAA: Hate Crimes
Crimes of Hatred are Nurtured by Discrimination!
It is alleged that sociologist Ali Bulaç argued that “the mass killings that have taken place in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq have been carried out by homosexual soldiers” in a CNN Turk program “Reha Muhtar’la Çok Farklı” last Monday. Moreover, in the same program the statements of Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay regarding Zeki Müren and Bülent Ersoy were discussed and it was understood that these ideas were the manifestations of the Minister’s subconscious.
We believe that the reason why the ‘crimes of hatred’, which springs from racism, nationalism and intolerance, have been recently escalating is these kind of statements. These statements exceed the limits of criticism and amount to insult and agitation. Article 10 of Turkish Constitution states that every citizen is equal before the law regardless of language, race, color, gender, political thought, philosophical belief, religion, sect etc. Similarly, article 3 of Turkish Penal Code protects the principle of justice and equality before the law; article 76 outlaws the crime of genocide, article 122 discrimination, article 125 insulting, and article 216 outlaws the acts which provokes the feelings of revenge and enmity amongst the people.
Since the thoughts of Ali Bulaç are shared by the bulk of society, his alleged statements have not been met with strong reaction. In effect, this statement is not only the violation of penal code, but it is also the manifestation of racist and intolerant system of thought. HRAA condemns his statement as intolerant, homophobic, discriminatory and insulting. It should not be forgotten that crimes of hatred are nurtured by discrimination.
In spite of the aforementioned articles of Constitution and penal code, no one has ever been tried of these crimes. Crimes of hatred should be regarded as a severe crime and offenders should be prosecuted independent of the identity of the offender. However, in Turkey, the people who have been tried based on these articles have, with exceptions, been the writers, academicians, and human rights defenders who opposed to the crimes of hatred, which springs of nationalism, racism and intolerance. While the law should take action on the racist, discriminatory, intolerant statements and on the speeches that provokes the society against responsible groups, its vigilance to the peaceful ideas of intellectuals and writers which are expressed within the limits of freedom of expression and which do not amount to insulting and provoking is unbelievable. The prosecutors who have inclinations of prosecution should act on the statements like these.
The most important of all, the only problem is not the way that the laws are executed. In effect, the category of ‘crimes of hatred’, defined by OSCE and public international law, is not recognized by the Turkish Penal Code. Therefore, the crimes which are committed with the motive of hatred are treated as if they are random crimes.
There has been a positive development about a trial in which four people, who attacked transvestites and transsexuals between April 7 and 12 of 2006 in Eryaman-Ankara and Esat and Kurtuluş respectively, were brought before the court. It is possible that the ruling of the Ankara 11th Aggravated Felony Court can be analyzed within the scope of crimes of hatred. The ground of court’s ruling, which sent the offenders to prison, was that:
… Accuseds, systematically and densely offended the individuals living in their neighborhood who characterize themselves as transsexuals based on the ‘ideas which were triggered by their bias’ with a definite motive, and forced the interveners to leave their living area.
We believe that the alleged statement of Ali Bulaç will only increase the crimes against individuals with different sexual orientation and sexual identity.
Human Rights Agenda Association