Turkish Referee Dismissed Due to Homosexuality Still Waiting for Compensation
Halil Ibrahim Dincdag is still waiting for compensation. Although the Turkish Football Federation has claimed Dincdag’s sacking had to do with his lack of talent, not his sexuality, and left the door open for reinstatement, two years later the reinstatement has yet to happen and Dincdag is demanding 110 thousand Turkish lira (approximately €48,000) for his dismissal.
In 2009, Dincdag, 33, was informed his license would not be renewed after 13 years as a referee. Shortly after appealing the dismissal, documents showing Dincdag’s exemption from the military due to homosexuality appeared in the national press. Dincdag claims that the Turkish football federation outed him to the press and subsequently fired him for it, but the TFF claim his lawyer is the one who leaked the documents. Due to the scrutiny over his sexuality he lost his job at a local radio station and left the country to avoid journalists disturbing his family. He eventually came out on national TV in a popular sports program. “The day the press started writing about me, I went into a coma, and the day I appeared on TV I died,” he said later about the experience. He understood the stigma of homophobia in football well. “The crowds shout ‘faggot’ at referees whose decisions they don’t like,” Dincdag observed. “Well, here I am.”
Dincdag’s honesty and principles won the attention of supporters in his home country and coverage in the international press. The Independent UK reported that “three-quarters of Trabzon’s 80 referees rang him up to congratulate him. Thirty thousand people signed a petition launched by Turkey’s most influential newspaper backing his campaign. One columnist even compared him to Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay politician. Turkey’s deputies brought his case to parliament. Most importantly for Mr Dincdag, his pious family, from whom he had kept his homosexuality secret, stood behind him.”
Two years later, however, and Dincdag has seen no compensation and has not been able to find work due to the controversy over his sexual orientation. He continues to battle in the courts as gay rights groups in Turkey and the European Union are observing closely as a test case for these types of dismissals. “They thought I was an ant that they could crush, they thought I would run away and hide in a corner,” Dincdag said two years ago. “But they have destroyed my life and I will fight them to the end.” He is still fighting.