Turkish Football Federation Fined For Firing Referee Because He Was Gay

After coming out, Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ was fired and threatened with violence.

The Turkish football federation (TFF) has been ordered to pay compensation to a referee after it revoked his licence on the grounds he was gay.

On Tuesday, a judge in Istanbul ruled the TFF had to pay 23,000 Turkish lira (about $7,900) to Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ, which is less than the 110,000 lira ($37,812) his lawyers had demanded.

halil ibrahim dincdag getty

The case had become a lightning rod for LGBT rights in the country, which, while more progressive than other Muslim countries, still grapples with homophobia.

The TFF claimed that because the Turkish military bans homosexual soldiers, Dinçdağ was similarly “unfit” as a referee. (Military service is compulsory for all men over the age of 20 in Turkey, and referees must complete their service before taking the job.)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 20: Lukas Podolski of Galatasaray celebrates scoring during the Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig match between Galatasaray and Akhisar Belediyespor at the Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul, Turkey on December 20, 2015. (Photo by Berk Ozkan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Dinçdağ, 38, had been a referee in northeastern Turkey for 13 years until 2009, when he came out and had his license revoked. After he filed an appeal, articles outing him appeared in the local press and Dinçdağ also lost his position at a local radio station.

He has since moved to Istanbul to get away from publicity and harassment.

“Winning this case means a lot to me,” he told the BBC. “I hope this ruling will be a model for similar cases.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.