LGBTI Turkey

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee Statement: We are Dispersing!

Last year, police attacked Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March and this year, the Istanbul Governor’s Office has banned it in its 14th year. Trans Pride March, realized in safety in 2015, was stopped by the police after the ban this year.


Due to these developments, as the 24th LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we submitted an application to the Istanbul Governor’s Office to hold a press statement on 26 June at 17:00 in Tünel Square. However, we received the response that it was “not approved”. The Governor’s Office has chosen to violate the “Law on Meetings and Demonstration Marches” guaranteed by the Constitution as a democratic right instead of protecting us against the threats that it has put forth as grounds for the ban.

We are announcing, with sadness, that we will not be able to hold the 14th Pride March. But our confidence in ourselves, our horizon, and our dreams are much bigger than a march, Istiklal Avenue, this city, and this country.  Our fight for existence goes beyond yesterday, today, and the future because we were here, we are here, and we will be here.

Our popular Pride Marches, held for 12 years with great joy, are a space where we celebrate our existence, our persistence to live a proud life, and our exponentially growing organized movement. They influence not only LGBTI+ individuals’ lives but everyone. Pride March allows humanity to dream: If this world were different, what kind of people would we be? What would we wear, desire, do, say? What would the streets of this city look like? If we organized with love, what could tear us apart from each other? If we held our bodies, work, and future in our own hands, what would happen? The ban on Pride March is an effort not only to stop us from leading dignified lives but also to stop us from dreaming of this world.

Police forces have told the people attempting to read a press statement during Trans Pride March to voice their legal and political demands: “Please disperse and allow life to go back to its normal course”. We are obeying this call: On Sunday, 26 June we will disperse to every single corner of Istiklal Avenue, we are reuniting with each other on every street and avenue in Beyoğlu. Instead of living a life that is imposed on, a life that normalizes violence, oppression, and denial; we are living the life we chose, the life in which we exist with pride and honor and we are “Letting life go back to its ‘normal’ course” by:



Rainbow Colors of Turkey’s May Day

Source: Yıldız Tar, “LGBTİ’ler 1 Mayıs’ta 18 Şehirde Alanlarda!” (“Rainbow Colors of Turkey’s May Day”), Kaos GL, 02 May 2014,

LGBTI people in Turkey took the streets in 18 different cities for May Day: Let’s get liberated together!
LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people took the streets all over Turkey on International Workers’ Day. Rainbow flags were carried in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Antep, Balikesir, Canakkale, Dersim, Diyarbakir, Eskisehir, Giresun, Iskenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Malatya, Mersin and Trabzon this year, making it the biggest LGBTI participation on the day.



Adana: That kind of job!
LGBTIs gathered in Adana upon the call of Queer Adana and marched behind the banner “that kind of job”. They carried placards such as “love between women exists” and “don’t touch my willpower”.



Ankara: We will get either liberated or decayed altogether!
Having taken the streets for the first time in 2001 as an organized group, LGBTIs gathered in front of Ankara Train Station. Kaos GL and Pink Life Associations as well as independent LGBTI activists marched behind the banner “we will get either liberated or decayed altogether!”



Antalya: Workers and faggots hand in hand for a sexual and class revolution!
Pink Carette LGBTI filled Antalya with rainbow flags as well as their banner “workers and faggots hand in hand for a sexual and class revolution”.



Antep: Homophobia out, colors in!
ZeugMadi LGBT stood against homophobia and transphobia with a banner “homophobia out, colors in.”



Balikesir: What’s prohibition, ayol*?
LGBTI in Balikesir marched with Balikesir Branch of Human Rights Association and said: What’s a prohibition, ayol[1]?



Rainbow flags in Canakkale
LGBTIs took the streets in Canakkale and became a part of the May Day demonstration.



Dersim: A world with no bosses, no pimps, no violence and no exploitation
LGBTIs in Dersim gathered upon the call of Rostiya Asme Initiative with participation of LGBTIs from neighboring cities. They demanded a world with no bosses, no pimps, no violence and no exploitation.



Diyarbakir: Keep up the struggle!
KeSKeSoR LGBT marched with rainbow and KeSKeSoR flags. Participating in every social action for many years, LGBTIs in Diyarbakir said “keep up the struggle”.



Eskisehir: Generally immoral!
MorEl made a call for the May Day demonstration in Eskisehir and marched with placards “generally immoral”, “what if I am a faggot” and “sexual orientation in the Constitution”.



Giresun: No to the sexist and homophobic system!
Giresun opened a banner “no to the sexist and homophobic system” and carried rainbow flags.



Iskenderun: What’s a boss, ayol[1]?
Iskenderun Colors of Freedom took the streets with a banner “what’s a boss, ayol*?”



Istanbul: Rainbow at the barricades
LGBTIs in Istanbul met in the district of Sisli in order to march to the prohibited Taksim Square. Rainbow flags were present at the barricades during the all-day-long clashes.



Izmir: LGBTI rights, a labor issue
LGBTIs in Izmir painted May Day in rainbow colors and said “LGBTI rights, a labor issue”.


Rainbow in Kayseri
LGBTIs in Kayseri marched with their rainbow flags among the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).



Kocaeli: LGBTI everywhere!
LGBTIs in Kocaeli said “LGBTIs are everywhere” and flourished a freedom struggle in the city.



Malatya: Homophobia out, colors in
Malatya Youth Initiative Against Homophobia and Transphobia said in the meeting stage “homophobia out, colors in”.



Broad participation in Mersin
Mersin 7 Colors increased the volume of the song of freedom in the city. The demonstration saw a broad participation with many people giving an open support to the LGBTI struggle.



Rainbow in Trabzon, too!
Trabzon Purple Fish LGBT participated in the demonstration with their rainbow flags, saying “we are everywhere”.

[1] Ayol is an exclamatory word associated with femininity and taboos and can mean “well”, “hey”, “wow”. The word itself has been in use in colloquial Turkish and underground LGBTI culture, however, its full and current appropriation by LGBTI organizations is a recent phenomenon that started with the Gezi Resistance in May 2013.  One of the first uses was in a banner “What’s forbidden, ayol!” during protests on Istiklal Avenue in Taksim, Istanbul. “Ayol” has been appearing as graffiti across Turkey since then. “Resist ayol” was used as a twitter hashtag for 2013 Pride Week. Its importance is rooted in the fact that though “ayol” was used by LGBTI organizations, it has been accepted and appropriated across groups in the Resistance. One explanation for its popularity can be found in the feeling that the word transcends and frees traditional gender roles and power relations; it imparts a sense of freedom…

The police officer, who was expelled from the profession for being gay, speaks

Source: “Eşcinsel olduğu için meslekten ihraç edilen polis konuştu,” (“The police officer, who was expelled from the profession for being gay, speaks,”) t24, 09 March 2014,

The gay police officer who was accused of unchaste conduct and expelled from the profession, said, “If, in 18 years, I had once made myself visible as gay, one day, and been fired upon a complaint, I would not have been sorry..”

The gay police officer being accused of “unchaste conduct” while on duty was fired and expelled from the profession as a result of the statement he submitted to the Morality Desk. He was fired and banned from the profession on the grounds that he “consorted with women who worked in brothels or worked alone at premises such as bars, taverns, casinos, etc. where prostitution takes place, or consorted with women and men reputed to be unchaste and lived like husband and wife.” The officer appealed to the administrative court but his appeal was rejected.

The police officer, who was fired for being gay, spoke to Burcu Karakaş. Below is the interview that was published in the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet:


Yeni Akit: The Perverts Pester High Schools

Source: İskender Özel, “Sapkınlar liselere el attı” (“And Now the Perverts Pester High Schools”) Yeni Akit, 01 March 2014,

Yeni Akit is a conservative daily newspaper that engages in hate speech against LGBTI people and other groups. This is a verbatim translation. 

LGBT organizations in Turkey are known to be already gaining popularity and wide acceptance in Turkish Universities. And now, they ‘pester’ high schools which are run by the Ministry of National Education!

“These perverts will take advantage of working with peer groups to confuse the innocent minds of students”

“They Are Pioneering Immorality”

Some high-school age students who had participated in former meetings of LGBT organizations reunited on February 6, 2014 and established LGBT High-School. The initiative was formed by F.H. and E.Ö., two members of the youth branch of Lambdaistanbul. While spreading perversity in high schools, they will be receiving support from their elders. The second meeting of the newly formed LGBT High-School was held on February 21 and stated “we are speaking from the schools, where heterosexism, transphobia, sexism, militarism, and speciesism are being imposed”

The fact that the initiative’s formation was first covered by Armenian newspaper AGOS and by the trigger of the Cemaat (Gülen movement) T24 was not seen as meaningful.

I Attempted Suicide

Source: Burcu Karakaş, “İntihara teşebbüs ettim,” (“I Attempted Suicide,”) milliyet, 02 March 2014,

I attempted suicide

A homosexual police officer in Gaziantep was fired due to being charged with the crime of “unchastity.” The police officer applied to the Administrative Court for the annulment of the decision but was rejected. He said, “I went through a huge trauma. I attempted suicide. The judges decide according to their own moral rules. According to them, we do not even have the right to life.”

A homosexual police officer’s life has changed when the Morality Desk raided his friend’s house in Gaziantep. The officer was taking food to his friend. After an unidentified person’s tip-off, the police officer, who chose to remain anonymous, and his friend were obliged to go with the officers from the Morality Desk to the police department and to give their statements.


The Story of an HIV Positive Gay Man: At First They Show Compassion, Then They Flee

Source: Yıldız Tar, “HIV+ Bir Eşcinselin Hikayesi: Önce Acıyor, Sonra Kaçıyorlar,” (“The Story of an HIV Positive Gay Man: At First They Show Compassion, Then They Flee,”), 24 February 2014,

Hasan Atik: As someone living with HIV, you are exposed to discrimination everywhere. They do not even want to pull my teeth. At first, people show compassion, then they run away, treating me like I am a monster.

HIV is a virus that makes your immune system deficient. If a person develops a serious infection due to having HIV, or if the immune system’s cells, which can be measured by blood tests, are highly depleted, then this can be classified as AIDS.

We spoke with Hasan Atik who has been living with HIV, something we know very little about, but everyone often talks about a lot. He spoke about the the difficulties of being HIV positive and gay: “HIV is a disease wrongly attributed to only gay people. It makes me sad to be the person who confirms this (stereotype).”

His story is one of segregation in every place, be it the law, health or social relationships. “The goal is to protect the other person from us. This is “othering” us. The situation – where we are already a monster in the eyes of the public – becomes worse.

Let us begin with the fact that you are person living with HIV in Turkey. What type of difficulties are you facing?

You are exposed to every type of discrimination – even the simplest of things. For example, a few days ago I went to the dentist to get my wisdom teeth removed. They did not remove my teeth, telling me a bunch of lies. The doctors were constantly speaking about me with each other. They did not even want to take an X-ray. While I was waiting in the waiting room, I heard the nurses speak about me. They were speaking in loud voices so I would hear and leave. In terms of health services and personal communication, we are exposed to an inordinate amount of discrimination.


LGBTI Activist Recounts Homophobic Harassment During Detention

Source: Yıldız Tar, “LGBTİ Aktivisti Gözaltında Homofobik Tacizi Anlattı,” (“LGBTI Activist Recounts Homophobic Harassment during Detention,”) Kaos GL, 26 February 2014,

A demonstration took place in Taksim on February 22, 2014 against Internet censorship. The police attacked the protesters with tear gas and took many of them into custody. Among the detainees was Hevi LGBTI member Sezer Yekta. Yekta was taken into custody with the justification that he was in possession of a rainbow flag. He was assaulted and was subjected to homophobic harassment by the police.

Sezer Yekta recounts that night and what he experienced:

Yes, I was among those detained on February 22 during the demonstrations against Internet censorship.

We were in Taksim around 7 PM. The square itself appeared calm. We began to walk and ran into some leftist protesters with flags. This was probably around the store MANGO. Seeing them gave me courage and I took out the rainbow flag that I had folded up in my bag. As I was trying to attach the flag to its handle, I found myself abruptly surrounded by police terror – without any notice or warning. Those who had the chance to escape had already run away. I, on the other hand, was in the arms of two creatures. I vaguely remember that they took the rainbow flag and stomped on it.


Transphobic Hate Murder in Antep

Source: “Antep’de Homofobik Nefret Cinayeti” (“Transphobic Hate Murder in Antep”), 21 February 2014,

Transwoman Sevda Başar was murdered by her boyfriend Ethem Orhan on Wednesday.

After the killer confessed his crime both to his family and to the military police, the military police found Sevda Başar’s dead body today. Orhan had shot his girlfriend in the chest with a hunting rifle and buried her in the vineyard he worked at.


“Back up your husband and we will take care of you”

Source: Damla Yur, “Kocanı destekle biz sana bakarız,” (“Back up your husband and we will take care of you,”) Milliyet, 13 February 2014,

Roşin Çiçek who lived in Diyarbakır, was killed in 2012 with the justification that he had homosexual tendencies. The court case resulted with his father and two uncles being sentenced to life in prison. The family’s conversation as they admitted to the murder during the court case was appalling.

Roşin Çiçek lived in Diyarbakır and he was killed in 2012 with the justification that he had homosexual tendencies. His struggle to survive, which was ultimately unsuccessful, was revealed among the statements and documents collected during the investigation. According to the documents in his file, the incidents proceeded as follows: Roşin was a young man with homosexual tendencies who was subjected to domestic violence. Roşin was not the only person in the family who had to put up with domestic violence; his three siblings and mother also suffered from time to time.


“A First in the CHP: A Transsexual Nominee for City Council”

Source: CHP tarihinde bir ilk gerçekleşmek üzere: “CHP Osmangazi Belediye Meclis Üyesi aday adayı olan transseksüel Öykü Özen meclis üyelerinin belirlenmesi için üyelerin katılımı ile gerçekleşen seçimde aldığı oylarla kadınlar arasında ilk 3’te yer aldı,” (“A first in the history of the Republican People’s Party is about to happen: Öykü Özen, a transsexual and a nominee for membership in the Republican People’s Party Osmangazi City Council, placed in the top three among women in a vote that took place with party members in order to determine the nominees for the council,”) 13 February 2014,

In Bursa, Öykü Özen, a transsexual and a nominee for membership in the Republican People’s Party’s Osmangazi City Council, ranked 10th among 50 nominees, gaining 642 votes from participating members in an election to determine members of the council.

Özen, who ranked 3rd amongst women, said, “They gave me their votes because I am proud of my gender identity and struggle against injustice. In the event that I am elected to the council, I will not tolerate any injustice.”


Gender Identity “Disorder”

Source: “F64.9: Cinsel Kimlik ‘Bozukluğu’,” (“F64.9: Gender Identity ‘Disorder’,”), 07 January 2014,

Serdar, who received an “unfit to serve in the military” (F64.9 gender identity disorder, undefined) report, shared his experience with

I am a lucky gay man. I am 29 years old and well-mannered. My family knows about my homosexuality and I live with my boyfriend of five years. I want to retell my experiences of the process I went through in detail so that people can access this information easily online.

Because I could not decide on whether or not to get the report for military exemption after graduation, I registered with the Open Education Faculty at a second university to benefit from deferment.

First, I had to break the deferment and go to the bureau to state that I wanted to join army. After this statement, I immediately said, “I wanted to be referred to the hospital.”  The authorities at the recruitment office asked me to see a family doctor to get a report. I returned to the recruitment office with the report I received from a primary health care center and I was directly sent to the Gülhane Military Medical Faculty (GATA) (Üsküdar and Kadıköy recruitment offices refer to the GATA directly instead of having to go from one hospital to another.)

“He is quite feminine, he has one-night stands and he sleeps with anyone he likes”


Legal Action for Compensation Against Gay Husband

Source: Gülcan Demirci, “Eşcinsel kocaya tazminat cezası,” (“Legal Action for Compensation against Gay Husband,”) 26 January 2014,

A woman, who found out that her husband is gay, opened a law suit to annul their marriage. The court decided that the married couple could divorce with 70,000 TL of compensation awarded to the wife.

In Istanbul, G.D., a teacher, found out after one year of marriage that her husband, F.D., who works as a chief executive of a private corporation, was gay. She filed a claim for the annulment of the marriage, stating “Marriage with a gay man is not feasible.” The court decided that an “annulment of marriage after six months is not possible. Due to the couple being married more than a year, a divorce lawsuit should be opened.” The judge who divorced the married couple also ordered an award of 70,000 TL of compensation to be paid by the husband.


The Topic of Sex Work: Still a Breaking Point

Source: Umut Güner, “Seks İşçiliği Meselesi, Hala Bir Kırılma Noktası,” (“The Topic of Sex Work: Still a Breaking Point,”), 15 January 2014, 

The People’s Democracy Party, Şişli Municipal Council pre-candidate Şevval Kılıç evaluated the topic of sex workers’ demands in regards to their profession, health and security problems, and the importance of creating employment opportunities for the trans community.


What kind of problems are sex workers experiencing in Turkey? In other words, can you please describe the concept of “Sex workers’ civil rights issues”?

Even though sex work looks like it is regulated in our legal system, the majority of sex workers fall outside the registered sex work industry and this subgroup is left open to illicitness and exploitation. The law, instead of protecting sex workers from exploitation and mistreatment, criminalizes them. As a result, discrimination against sex workers is being fostered. I think the only way that sex workers can benefit from democratic rights is if sex work is considered as a legitimate form of employment. The increasing trend in religious conservatism is another threat, because sex outside of marriage is considered adultery according to [Islamic] religion, and this especially angers the conservatives. Although they cannot call this adultery as easily, they oppose sex work as it is against morals or they consider all sex workers as victims. This negative image that is formed around sex work blocks both the recognition of sex work as a form of employment and the process of seeking civil rights. Even amongst many leftist, feminist, rights and labor groups, the topic of sex work is still a breaking point.


LGBTI People’s Search for Justice Continues

Source: “LGBTİ bireylerin adalet arayışı sürüyor,” (“LGBTI people’s search for justice continues,”) siyasihaber, 21 January 2014,

SPoD LGBTI, Hevi LGBTI, and independent activists repeated their demands for justice at the fifteenth hearing of the Ahmet Yıldız case, who was allegedly killed by his father in Üsküdar, Istanbul in 2008.

LGBTI activists made a statement after the hearing:

“According to the allegations of the Üsküdar Public Prosecutor and the wide-spread opinion, Ahmet Yıldız was killed by his father on 15 July 2008. Despite the repeated demands for a red notice to be issued regarding the defendant Yahya Yıldız since 2008, this demand was only accepted after the tribunal of judges was changed. No results have been reached in the capture of the defendant by the fifteenth hearing on 17 January 2014.


The CHP’s LGBT Report Has Been Completed

Source: C. Can Yüksel, “CHP’nin LGBT Raporu Tamamlandı,” (“The CHP’s LGBT Report Has Been Completed,”) Kaos GL, 16 January 2014,

A report prepared by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) members of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has been presented to the party.

The work for the report that has been carried out over the last six months by the LGBT Rights Research Committee of the CHP Kadıköy Youth Organization has been completed and submitted to the CHP Kadıköy chairperson.