Turkey, Middle East

Due to its strategic location astride two continents, Turkey's culture has a unique blend of Eastern and Western tradition. Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe, NATO and the G-20 major economies. Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005. The human rights of LGBT people in Turkey is one of the most controversial human rights issues in Turkey. Homosexuality is not illegal as such in the Republic of Turkey. However, owing to conservative values embedded in Muslim-majority Turkish society, homosexuality remains a taboo topic in public discourse. The desire of Turkey to join the European Union has forced the government to grant official recognition to LGBT rights organizations, respect a greater degree of the freedom of speech and the press and to entertain gay rights legislation. Gay themed conferences and gatherings now regularly take place, particularly in Istanbul and Ankara. The major LGBT community-based civil rights organization is KAOS GL, established in 1994 in Ankara. Lambda Istanbul, a member of ILGA-Europe, was established in 1993 in Istanbul. It was recently threatened by the District Govenorship. The prosecution argued that its name and activities were “against the law and morality.”  But they lost the case against Lambda. Also see: Islam and Homosexuality

 

News & Reports:

 

Gay Syrian man kidnapped, raped and decapitated in Istanbul, local media reports

A gay Syrian man has been found decapitated after being kidnapped and raped in Istanbul, local media has reported. The victim, Wisam Sankari, a Syrian refugee in Istanbul, was so badly mutilated that his friends had to identify him by the trousers he was wearing. According to various local news sources , Sankari left his… Read more »

Turkey LGBT: Scuffles at banned Istanbul transgender event

Turkish riot police have fired tear gas and plastic bullets after transgender rights activists gathered in Istanbul in defiance of a ban on marching. Several dozen activists turned up and were surrounded by police, after which scuffles began, with one man reportedly tearing up a gay rights banner. The march was banned in order to… Read more »

Istanbul Pride banned due to ‘security concerns’, a year after police fired tear gas at marchers

Officials in Turkey have ordered that the capital’s Pride parade be cancelled – purportedly because of ‘security’ concerns following Orlando. Turkey is still extremely conservative when it comes to LGBT issues, and though homosexuality is legal there, gay people are given no legal recognition – and still face regular persecution. Last year’s Istabnbul Pride was… Read more »

Greece to send gay Syrian asylum seeker back to Turkey under controversial migrant deal

A gay Syrian migrant whose asylum claim was rejected by Greece will be sent back to Turkey, sources told AFP on Thursday, the first rejected applicant known to be returned under a controversial migrant deal. The 46-year-old man arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos after the EU struck a deal to send some failed… Read more »

What Does Islam Say About Being Gay?

Istanbul — On June 29, Turkey’s 12th Gay Pride Parade was held on Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Avenue. Thousands marched joyfully carrying rainbow flags until the police began dispersing them with water cannons. The authorities, as has become their custom since the Gezi Park protests of June 2013, once again decided not to allow a demonstration… Read more »

What Does Islam Say About Being Gay?

Istanbul — On June 29, Turkey’s 12th Gay Pride Parade was held on Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Avenue. Thousands marched joyfully carrying rainbow flags until the police began dispersing them with water cannons. The authorities, as has become their custom since the Gezi Park protests of June 2013, once again decided not to allow a demonstration… Read more »

Is Turkey ready to elect its first openly gay lawmaker?

Baris Sulu hopes to become the voice of the country’s burgeoning LGBT-rights movement by winning a seat in parliament. Turkey goes to the polls on June 7. Istanbul — Baris Sulu has made history twice. Four years ago, he and his partner became the first gay couple to apply for a marriage license in Turkey;… Read more »

Seeking home: The lives of gay and transgender asylum seekers of the Middle East

Beginning in Damascus, Syria, in 2010, photojournalist Bradley Secker began to document the lives of gay Iraqi refugees that had fled Iraq to escape homophobic violence. Shortly after chronicling their stories, Secker crossed borders and traveled to Turkey, following Iranians, Turkish Kurds, Syrians and more Iraqis who were claiming asylum abroad or fighting for their… Read more »

Istanbul court fines bathhouse for rejecting trans woman

In what local activists describe as a small but significant victory for the LGBT community in Turkey, a Turkish court has fined a bathhouse owner for discriminating against a trans woman. The verdict is seen as a step towards greater political and social support for LGBT individuals in this secularly ruled, traditionally Muslim country. Lawyer… Read more »

Turkey breaks company with EU in gay vote

Ankara – In an atmosphere where Turkey is being criticized for the slow pace of its EU reforms, the country refuses to sign a declaration calling all states to take steps to stop the criminalization of homosexuality, contradicting its commitments to the EU in promoting human rights Turkey breaks company with EU in gay vote… Read more »

Turkey: Gay couple face death threats after staging ‘symbolic’ wedding

A gay couple in Istanbul have lost their jobs, been evicted from their home, and are facing death threats from family members after holding a ‘symbolic’ open wedding last month. According to Hurriyet Daily News, Ekin Keser, who is of Arab origin, and Emrullah Tüzün, who is of Kurdish origin, said they were facing severe… Read more »

Turkey gets its first umbrella LGBTI organization to fight homophobia

Turkey: A new organization, the first in Turkey to ensure LGBTI websites, groups and organizations has been established to fight homophobia and transphobia in the Islamic country that straddles Europe and Asia. In existence since less than two months, the organization was created in order to ensure unity and solidarity among LGBTI groups, LGBTIwebsites and… Read more »

Turkey: Thousands march in Istanbul Pride despite religious objections

Tens of thousands of people turned out on Sunday to celebrate LGBT Pride in Istanbul, slated as the largest gay pride celebration in any majority Muslim country. 100,000 or more participants marched peacefully under the watchful eye of the Turkish police, waving celebratory rainbow flags and signs to celebrate LGBT pride. The celebrations were heavily… Read more »

Aiding Turkey’s Gay Inmates

Last month, the Turkish justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, announced a government project to establish separate prisons for the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates. According to Mr. Bozdag’s written statement, the goal is to protect these inmates from abuse. This was not the first time Ankara has floated the idea: The Justice Ministry proposed… Read more »

Fighting Against Discrimination in Mersin

The Platform for Fighting Against Discrimination was established in Mersin with the support of 19 organizations. Hüseyin Aslan, a member of the board of directors for Akdeniz Göç-Der (Mediterranean Association for Migration) held a press conference at the Mersin Journalists Association and explained that the Platform for Fighting Against Discrimination will be the voice of… Read more »

Turkey’s Separate Gay Prisons Plan Angers Local LGBT Groups

Gay rights groups in Turkey expressed alarm Tuesday at a government-led project to build prisons only for criminals who declare themselves gay, saying it would lead to more discrimination in a largely homophobic country. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced at the weekend that plans were underway to construct separate prisons for openly gay inmates in… Read more »

Homosexual prisoners in Turkey segregated for ‘protection’: minister

Turkish rights activists reacted angrily to a government measure that has led to the segregation of lesbian, gay and transsexual prisoners to protect them from harassment and attacks while in jail. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced the “protecting convicts” measure for openly homosexual prisoners in a written response to a parliamentary question from an opposition… Read more »

Turkey: Mother of gay murdered boy screams ‘I would have killed him myself’

A father in Turkey has been jailed for killing his gay son – but the mother seems rather more concerned on how his sexuality brought shame on the family. Seventeen-year-old Rosin Çiçek was found beaten, bloody and with a bullet wound in his head at the side of the road in a Turkish town on… Read more »

Dad, who killed his gay son, jailed for life

A Turkish court has found a father and two uncles guilty over the manslaughter of a 17-year-old teen A father who killed his gay son for ‘shaming the family’ is facing life in prison. On 2 July 2012, 17-year-old Rosin Çiçek was found beaten, bloody and with a bullet wound in his head at the… Read more »

Turkey’s gay groups dismayed LGBT abuse not a hate crime

Istanbul(AFP) — Gay rights groups in Turkey voiced dismay Friday that proposed legislation fails to make it a hate crime to target people because of their sexual orientation. “The definition of hate crime must immediately be broadened. The government has to guarantee our right to live,” Ebru Kiranci, an official from Istanbul’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual… Read more »

EC report criticises EU applicants Turkey, Kosovo and Serbia on LGBT rights

A European Commission report detailing the nature of LGBT rights in several countries looking to join the European Union has criticised Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey. The reports show that LGBT people continue to face discrimination, threats and violence throughout south-eastern European and Turkey. Widespread hate crime against LGBT people were noted in Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia,… Read more »

The Hospital’s Exam on Trans

Voltrans Transmen Initiative founding member Ali Arikan passed away last night after battling cancer. I have been in the hospital for about a month and a half now; my bowels do not function because of the pressure from cancerous cells in the peritoneum. I am getting chemo, they give me lots of drugs so that… Read more »

Turkish Court Decides People Need Protection From Gay Dating

A Turkish court has issued a ban on popular gay dating and hook-up app and website Grindr, demonstrating Turkey’s apparently conflicted stance on wider human rights issues. For those not in the know, Grindr is a free iPhone app and website that allows gay, bisexual and “curious” men to connect online. Due to its use… Read more »

Turkey to become second majority Muslim nation to protect sexual minorities from discrimination

Turkey’s Constitutional Consensus Committee agreed Monday that sexual orientation be added to a section of a draft new constitution – which if passed would make it only the second majority Muslim country to protect sexual minorities Turkey looks set to join Albania as one of only two majority Muslim nations to protect sexual minorities from… Read more »

Gay Muslims in Turkey: torn between religion and sexuality

“When I was a child, I was told that homosexuals would burn in hell,” said Ertugrul, a Muslim fighting for greater freedom for gays in a country where homosexuality remains taboo. Ertugrul, who did not want to give his last name, is president of the group Muslims and Gays, which he says wants to “break… Read more »

When IGLHRC honored Turkish parliamentarian Dr. Binnaz Toprak and activist Yasemin Öz

Friends, When IGLHRC honored Turkish parliamentarian Dr. Binnaz Toprak and activist Yasemin Öz with our annual human rights awards in May, we could not have predicted the turbulent events that would ensue there in the weeks to come. While Dr. Toprak and Yasemin visited the U.S., we held meetings with the Turkish Ambassador to the… Read more »

Istanbul gay pride supported by tens of thousands of Gezi park protestors

Tens of thousands people joined Istanbul gay pride, including Gezi park protestors in a march of unity and solidarity demanding change Tens of thousands people joined Istanbul gay pride, including Gezi park protestors in a march of unity and solidarity demanding change LGBT rights activists and demonstrators were joined by Gezi Park protestors in an… Read more »

Protests Squelched, Gay Rights March Brings Many in Turkey Back to the Streets

Istanbul — Not long after a security crackdown smothered the antigovernment protests that convulsed Turkey for weeks, thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul again on Sunday, this time for a march to demand better treatment and equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. When the first gay rights parade was… Read more »

Turkey: Father who murdered son for being gay pleads guilty

A Turkish man who murdered his son for being gay pleaded guilty but said it was ‘an accident’ A Turkish man from Diyarbakir who murdered his son for being gay pleaded guilty but said it was ‘an accident’ A man who killed his son for being gay in the Kurdish province of Diyarbakir, Turkey, pleaded… Read more »

Main opposition urges protection of LGBT’s, ruling party calls them ‘immoral’

As many countries discuss granting gay marriages, the Turkish Parliament tackled for the first time May 29 the discrimination faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT), a sensitive issue long ignored by politicians. The initiative came from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which submitted an inquiry proposal regarding the problems of… Read more »

‘The Other’ and LGBT Rights in Turkey

In 2009, Dr. Binnaz Toprak, then a professor of political science at Bogaziçi University in Istanbul, authored a report titled “Being Different in Turkey: Religion, Conservatism and Otherization.” The report, jointly published with the Open Society Foundation in Turkey, demonstrated how the conservative religious politics of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had intensified… Read more »

Anti-Homophobia Meeting to Talk About “Peace”

Kaos GL will focus on the issue of “peace” during this year’s International Anti-Homophobia Meeting. Held in the week of May 17th every year, the 8th meeting will celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Forums and Conferences Will be on May 17th and 18th Kaos GL, a strong proponent of peace all the… Read more »

Turkish LGBT activist Yasemin Oz wins human rights award

Lawyer Oz, who has been active in LGBT rights for 18 years, wins the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s Felipa de Souza Award Yasemin Oz, who has campaigned for LGBT-rights in Turkey since the mid-1990s, is being honored with a human rights award. The Felipa de Souza Award, given by the International Gay… Read more »

Police break into homes and arrest 20 trans women in Istanbul

On the night before International Women’s Day, the homes of trans women was broken into by police on suspicion of ‘providing space for sex work’ On the night before International Women’s Day, police officers in Istanbul arrested and harassed 20 transgender women. Around 4pm yesterday (7 March), police officers broke down their doors with sledgehammers… Read more »

Turkey: Children fostered by European gay couples will be retrieved

A campaign has been launched by the Turkish Government to retrieve Turkish children fostered by Christian families in Europe – starting with children fostered by gay and lesbian couples. According to the Hurriyet Daily, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has instructed Turkish international representatives to start the process in the cases of three… Read more »

59 Deputies From Republican People’s Party (CHP) Request LGBT Rights Inquiry

Republican People’s Party (CHP) requested an inquiry yesterday from the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) to find solutions for the problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The request for the inquiry was prepared by Istanbul deputy of CHP, Binnaz Toprak and signed by 59 CHP deputies, including Toprak. CHP demanded legal protection… Read more »

Turkey progress report slammed – no progress for gay rights

Turkish activists claim: Turkey’s own progress report to the European Union ignores repeated critique of the country’s failure to protect LGBT people Activists slammed Turkey’s progress report to the European Union (EU), saying it totally ignores the EU’s recommendations regarding LGBT rights Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said the report… Read more »

Turkey progress report slammed – no progress for gay rights

Turkish activists claim: Turkey’s own progress report to the European Union ignores repeated critique of the country’s failure to protect LGBT people Activists slammed Turkey’s progress report to the European Union (EU), saying it totally ignores the EU’s recommendations regarding LGBT rights Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said the report… Read more »

Celebrity gay fashion designer brutally attacked in Turkey

One of Turkey’s most celebrated fashion designers and a gay activist was brutally attacked in Istanbul Celebrity Turkish gay fashion designer, Barbaros Sansal, was seriously beaten last night (27 December) in Istanbul, Turkey. Sansal is well known in Turkey for being an outspoken gay activist and for his use of witty language. According to daily… Read more »

Resistance… Resilience… Equal Rights

for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world. As part of Pride celebrations in 2012, Turkish protestors demanded their rights: “We are here, get used it!,” “Sexual Orientation in the Constitution,” and “Sexual Identity in the Constitution.” In October 2012, together with two Turkish LGBT organizations, we prepared and submitted a shadow report… Read more »