Turkish football authority to pay outed gay referee

Compensation to be paid for revoking licence and damages caused after referee’s sexual identity was leaked to the press.

Halil Ibrahim Dincdag
Referee Halil Ibrahim Dincdag sued Turkey's football federation after being dismissed in 2009 [EPA]

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) was ordered to pay thousands of dollars for revoking the licence of a homosexual referee whose sexual identity was later leaked to the media after he filed a complaint.

The referee’s lawyer told Al Jazeera a court in Istanbul fined the TFF 23,000 Turkish liras ($8,000) because of its treatment of Halil Ibrahim Dincdag.

The compensation was far lower than the original demand of 110,000 Turkish liras ($38,000), in a case that put the spotlight on the discrimination of gays and lesbians in largely conservative Turkey.

The licence of Dincdag, a referee from Turkey’s Black Sea city of Trabzon, was revoked in 2009 after he presented to the local referees’ authority documents showing he was homosexual and exempt from mandatory military service.

Local football officials suspended him and forwarded the case to the national federation. The TFF said he was not suitable to be a referee because of health issues given that he was “unfit” for military service.

The referee sued the federation for material and personal damages in 2010.

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“We will appeal the case. The compensation for the sufferings of Halil Ibrahim has gone through since 2009 should be far more than this,” his lawyer Firat Soyle told Al Jazeera.

The TFF had changed its stance later in 2009, declaring that homosexuality was not an illness and did not make Dincdag “unfit” for the job.

However, Dincdag was not allowed to take referee qualification exams, thereby ending his professional career.

The leak

A 2009 complaint by the Turkish referee to the TFF was leaked to the Turkish media, revealing his identity, location of work, and details of his case.

“After his identity was revealed, he lost his presenting job at a local radio and his writing jobs at several newspapers,” lawyer Soyle said.

“In the last six years, he applied for dozens of jobs, but he could not get a single one, as his homosexuality was publicly known. He very recently started refereeing games in Istanbul amateur divisions, earning a little bit of money. But for many years he went through major financial difficulties.”

Soyle also said Dincdag was threatened through phone calls at his home in Trabzon, a conservative province of Turkey.

Homosexuality has always been legal in modern Turkey, but gays often protest harassment and abuse – both in state services and within Turkish society.

Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Um_Uras

Source: Al Jazeera