First openly gay Turkish referee wins landmark case against Turkish Football Federation following dismissal

Turkish referee Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ hit the headlines when he became the countries first openly gay referee in 2009.

Dinçdağ took a report of exemption from military service due to his sexual orientation but was not allowed to return to his job as a referee as the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) refused to renew his licence to officiate games.

The official reason given for dismissing Dinçdağ from the TFF was according to the Sabah: “Those who do not complete their national military service due to “diseases” cannot be a referee.”

The military recorded his dismissal from the military being on grounds of having a ‘psychological disorder’ and he subsequently lost his job as a referee which had been his profession for the previous 13 years.

The former referee’s sexuality soon went public and in addition to losing his job as a referee Dinçdağ also lost his role as a radio presenter and faced further discrimination making it difficult to find employment.

Dinçdağ filed a lawsuit against the TFF arguing that homosexuality is not a disease and that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his sexuality which violates the constitution.

In what turned out to be a landmark case for the LGBT movement in Turkey Dinçdağ won the lawsuit and an Istanbul court ruled that the TFF must pay £5,330 for material and moral indemnities respectively.

Dinçdağ’s lawyer Fırat Söyle told reporters that the ruling was a victory for his client and the battle against homophobia but also underlined that they would appeal the compensation awarded as it was below the £25,500 they had initially requested.

“This is a victory in struggle against homophobia in football and LGBT movement in Turkey,” he said.

Homosexuality has been a legal act in Turkey since it was founded in 1923 and was prior to that it was first legalised during the Ottoman Empire in 1858.

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