On February 23, a member of the Pink Life LGBT group based in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, Ramazan Kalkan, urgently reported that his boyfriend Umut GöktuÄŸ Söyler had been kidnapped by Söyler’s father.
Kalkan said during his relationship with Söyler he had been threatened with death several times and that his boyfriend had been kidnapped previously, but managed to flee.
Until recently Söyler’s whereabouts had been unknown and LGBT groups in Turkey have been scrambling to acquire information that might lead to Söyler’s safe return. Ömer AkpÄ±nar of the LGBT group Kaos GL, told 429Magazine, “Finally police commenced an active investigation to find the missing son. It is suspected that he is in TaÅŸova, Amasya where he was sent and confined before in his uncle’s house.”
Turkish LGBT groups want the kidnapping to be taken seriously, but fear that given the political atmosphere of LGBT rights that the police may not launch a comprehensive investigation. So Kaos GL and other LGBT groups are asking for help in publicizing such issues.
“Authorities in Turkey tend to ignore violence against LGBT people so we have to create some outer pressure on them. We are trying to publicize incidents such as this as much as we can, both nationally and internationally,” said AkpÄ±nar.
Socially, Turkey has not fully addressed the needs and rights of LGBT people. Just last week, a judicial court challenged the ruling of the Turkish Supreme Court declaring homosexual sex to be “natural.” LGBT people are still not classified as a social group in Turkey and so are therefore barred from civil rights protections.
“This kidnapping shows once more that LGBT people’s lives in Turkey are at risk and that the Turkish government needs to do more to protect LGBT people and include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the new Constitution [to be written],” added AkpÄ±na.
Umut GöktuÄŸ Söyler’s liberation is hoped for but seems to be in a deadlock at the moment. To successfully gain his return legal procedures are necessary. The kidnappers have ties to the police and the military, so his return remains dubious. AkpÄ±nar says the situation is frustrating.
“There is a huge security risk both on Söyler and his boyfriend Kalkan bu hopefully this time human rights of LGBT people will outweigh the militaristic powers. As the perpetrators have close ties with the police, people grow kind of faithless about their arrest,” he said.