Turkey’s ultranationalist party seeks ban on sex reassignment surgery

A member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community (LGBTQI+) holds a rainbow flag during a rally against Turkey's withdrawal from Istanbul Convention in Istanbul, on June 19, 2021. - Turkish President sparked outrage in March by pulling out from the world's first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women, known as the Istanbul Convention. (Photo by BULENT KILIC / AFP)

The far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is working on legislation that bans sex reassignment surgery except when medically necessary, Turkish Minute reported, citing a party official.

The party’s deputy chairman, Feti Yıldız, announced on Twitter on Thursday that the MHP would soon submit a bill to parliament banning sex reassignment surgery, among other items aimed at protecting the family.

“Family is the foundation of Turkish society,” he tweeted, saying the bill will also introduce heavier penalties for child sex offenders and a ban on LGBT propaganda in addition to sex reassignment surgeries.

According to Turkish law, permission from a court is compulsory for sex reassignment surgeries, which can be performed at the age of 18 first. Courts require expert analyses in a medical report that must include the results of a psychiatric examination of the individual, who must be an adult, single and permanently unreproductive before surgery.

Although homosexuality was decriminalized by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey, in 1858, it is widely frowned upon by large segments of the society, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP, while same-sex couples are not legal.

One minister previously referred to gay people as “deranged.”

Last year, the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on protecting women’s rights, claiming it encouraged homosexuality and threatened the traditional family structure.

In addition, after İstanbul had in 2014 hosted more than 100,000 people for a Gay Pride march, it has since clamped down on similar gatherings, citing security issues.

People who have attempted to rally have found themselves battling severe restrictions, including arrest.

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