German clubs and Turkish referee partner-up to tackle homophobia

German football groups have invited the Turkish referee Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ to help address the topic of homophobia in the game, in a series of events that will take place in Germany, between 8 and 13 April.

Dinçdağ, who was suspended to officiate matches in Turkey due to his sexuality after outing himself in 2009, will use the opportunity to raise awareness of the current situation of LGBT people in Turkey and discuss the topic of homophobia in football based on his experience.

In 2009, Dinçdağ was informed his professional licence would not be renewed because he had been excused from his compulsory military service on account of his homosexuality, which was documented in a medical report. According to the sport's regulations, anyone who fails to complete military service for health reasons is unfit to perform as a referee.

Two days after he appealed his dismissal to the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), stories about him started to appear in the national press. As a result, he was axed by the local radio station he worked on and forced to flee to Istanbul to spare his family from an influx of journalists.

It was at this point that Dinçdağ decided to come out as gay, while appearing on a television sports programme.

“After my sexual orientation was leaked to the press by the TFF, my life changed dramatically.” said the Turkish referee.

"For years, the European Union has been talking about the importance of legislation on sexual discrimination in the workplace," said Ali Erol, a spokesman for KAOS-GL, an Ankara-based gay and lesbian rights group.

"So far Turkey has not taken one step forward." he added.

The week-long initiative is being organised by the Fare members Rotern Stern Leipzig, Tennis Borussia Berlin and Football Fans Against Homophobia.

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