Landmark rulings in favour of gays across Europe, Turkey
A series of landmark rulings across Europe this week has put the spotlight back on the rights of gay and lesbian people, with courts ruling in favour of adoption by gay couples in Austria and Germany while a court in Turkey decided for the first time that gay sexual relations did not constitute ‘unnatural sex’.
On Monday, a judge in an Istanbul court deciding upon the fate of a man caught selling 125 porn DVDs featuring gay and group sex contradicted a previous Turkish Supreme Court ruling that gay sex was in the category of ‘unnatural sex’ alongside bestiality and necrophilia.
The DVD trader faced up to four years imprisonment under article 262/2 of the Turkish penal code which prohibits owning, trafficking, distributing and publishing ‘unnatural sex’ videos.
Judge Mahmut Erdemli though ruled that sexual orientation had to be respected and could not be considered as ‘unnatural’, citing examples of the recognition of same-sex marriages in countries across Europe and North America.
“International regulations prohibit discrimination regarding peoples’ sexual preference, and it is therefore an obligation to respect their sexual orientation,” Erdemli said.
“In this respect, most of the European countries see gay relationships as equivalent to marriage.
“Contemporary societies allow [gay relationships] to achieve this legal status and therefore the contents of the DVDs cannot be seen as unnatural.”
Acquitted of trading in ‘unnatural’ porn, the trader was instead sentenced to eight months jail for the ‘unauthorised’ selling of pornography.
Turkey’s LGBT community has cautiously welcomed the judgement, with gay activist and GaysOfTurkey.com blogger, Murat Renay, telling SX that the verdict of an “open-minded judge” suggested progress in relation to greater civil rights in a country that harbours hopes of joining the EU but where political leaders and the Army leadership regularly censor the media and imprison opponents and LGBT activists.
“As usual, strange things like this can happen in Turkey. This means a recognition of LGBT rights – sort of,” Renay said.
“This verdict is a precedent for the similar cases but of course the real progress about LGBT rights is a fundamental law which consists of LGBT recognition and this may be a step towards this path.”
Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) earlier this week ruled that Austria’s laws discriminated against a woman by refusing to consider her request to adopt her female partner’s biological child so they couple could raise the child jointly.
The ruling will most likely mean Austria will have to alter laws that currently only allow for an unmarried person in a heterosexual relationship to adopt and jointly raise their partner’s child.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, said the decision will prompt a “shake up” of the Austrian Government’s thinking.
“Everyone has the right to marry and found a family,” Dalhuisen said.
“Some European governments need to wake up to the fact that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people should not be prevented from marrying and adopting, and that the march of law in Europe is inevitably on the side of social progress.”
On Tuesday, a German constitutional court made a similar ruling that will now see the German Government have to alter its laws by July 2014 so as to ensure that gay people can be allowed to adopt a child already adopted by their partner.
“The exclusion of successive adoption by registered partners violates the general principle of equality,” the Karlsruhe court, based in southwest Germany decided.
A spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right government said the ruling would be closely studied before deciding on how best to proceed in amending the law.
“The wellbeing of the children will always be the benchmark for the government,” Steffen Seibert said.
[IMAGE]: Istanbul's Gay Pride Parade at Taksim Square (Jordy91)