A Turkish soccer referee forced from his job for being gay revealed his identity on national television Saturday in a plea for tolerance. While homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, there are no nondiscrimination laws for sexual orientation and moves are afoot to ban LGBT groups.
Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ, 33, was forced from his job as referee after he was excused from his compulsory military service when he was listed as gay in a medical report. Gays are barred from serving in the Turkish military. Anyone who can't perform their military duties for medical reasons is not allowed to be a referee.
"Please stand tall against the unfairness against you, whenever something wrong is happening," he said on TV after his identity was revealed . "Say that it is wrong. Say what is right for you."
Dinçdağ said he will continue a legal fight to get his job back. Having openly gay officials and referees in any sport in the U.S. is still virtually unheard of, so it takes some balls to go public in a place like Turkey, where the conservative Islamic culture has made it hard for gays and lesbians to get any rights or public recognition and where anti-gay violence is on the rise,