Turkish Armed Forces and LGBTI

BDP Sebahat Tuncel’s Parliamentary Question on the Military

Source: Sebahat Tuncel, “Soru Önergesi,” “Parliamentary Question,” 3 May 2012,

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey
Peace and Democracy Party
No: 992
Date: 03.05.2012

To the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Speaker’s Office:

I request that the Minister of National Defense Mr. İsmet Yılmaz provide written replies to the questions I hereby submit, in accordance with the 98th bylaw of the Constitution and the 99th bylaw of the Standing Orders.

Sebahat Tuncel,

Istanbul Deputy

Mandatory military service has been abolished in nearly every European country, yet it continues in Turkey today. Many youths are against the mandatory military system for conscientious, political or belief-related reasons, by objecting to militarism or due to their sexual orientation. The right to object to mandatory military service is included in international agreements and it is recognized as a “right” in law. However, such objection is still viewed as a crime in Turkey. Those who suffer most in relation to this are young men who wish not to serve in the military due to their sexual orientation. Unlike the respect they receive in democratic countries, in Turkey, those with different sexual orientations are considered to have “character disorders.” They are subjected to pressure and othering by the state and multiple sectors of society.


Objectionable homosexuals will not serve in the military!

Source: Murat Gürgen, “‘Sakıncalı’ eşcinseller askere gitmeyecek!,” (“Objectionable homosexuals will not serve in the military!,”) Haberturk, 06 February 2013,

And photos will not be required…

Alterations made in the Turkish Armed Forces Health Legislation have been published in the Official Gazette, the official publication of the Turkish state. A new regulation has been issued regarding the status of homosexuals, a topic which has recently been under heated debate. The new regulations state that if homosexual tendencies have been present throughout the individual’s life and if this situation can cause “objections” during his military service he would be given certificate being deemed “unfit to serve in the military” and exempted from service.


Kaos GL’s Military Brochure for Homosexuals

Source: Kaos GL, “Eşçinseller için Askerlik Broşürü: Eşcinseller ve Askerlik Sorunları ve Bu Konu ile İlgili Yasal Mevzuat,” (“Military Brochure for Homosexuals: The Problem of the Military and Homosexuality and the Legal Regulations,”), January 2013,

The Problem of the Military and Homosexuality and the Legal Regulations

The Call to the Military

According to Article 14 of the Military Code, the draft is the process of determining whether a person who has reached the age of military service is fit to serve in the military by checking their health, their education status, profession, and personal character.

Every October, the Ministry of Interior informs the Ministry of National Defense about the identification of people who have reached the age of military service.

The draft for people who reach the age of military service begins on 1 January every year and continues until the end of the summons and dispatch of that year’s soldiers.

The process begins when you are called to the military and declare your homosexuality to the command post you are attached to. Once you declare your intention to get a report, you are sent to the military hospital.


The Military and the ‘Gays’

Source: Mehveş Evin, “Askerlik ve ‘gay’ler,” (The Military and the ‘Gays’,”) Milliyet, 17 November 2010,

When it comes to the “headscarf” debates, the words “fundamental rights” and “freedoms” are flying around. Well, what about the rights of those who are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation?

If Der Spiegel had not reported on the issue, it would have continued to be an urban legend. The German magazine ran the headline “Porn for the General” and reported that homosexual men are asked to present documents along with photos and videos to the Turkish military as proof of their sexuality in order to be approved for exemption from service. The news have entered mainstream Turkish press, while the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have denied it. Thus, the TSK, for the first time in its history, has delivered an opinion on homosexuality.


What happens to a gay man in the barracks?

Source: Ulaş Gürpınar, “Bir eşcinselin başına kışlada neler gelir?” (“What happens to a gay man in the barracks?”) Agos, 19 August 2013,

Military service is defined as “service to the homeland.” The treatment that homosexual men are deemed worthy of in the process that leads to the bestowing of their “unfit to serve in the military” report tramples on the most basic of human rights. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) continue their resistance against “protecting the rights of homosexuals” in the New Constitutional Reconciliation Commission. In the meantime, a homosexual man’s (Ü.G.) experiences, hard even to read, bluntly demonstrate why there is a need for constitutional protection.

We have had numerous opportunities to read about the process through which homosexual men in Turkey (do not) get recruited for military service. There are multiple instances when photos during sexual intercourse were required as “proof” of homosexuality and videos were requested upon the decision that the photos were “insufficient” due to various reasons. Then again, there are men who have been unable to prove their homosexuality to the army and were thus forced to serve in the military.


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”


Military Exemption: “Draw the chimney long- it represents the penis!”

Source: Ayşe Arman, “Bacayı uzun çiz, penisi temsil ediyor!” (“Draw the chimney long- it represents the penis!”) Hürriyet, 11 January 2014,

“I am a homosexual university graduate,” so started the e-mail. “I have been dealing with military affairs since September. I have been trying to get the report indicating I am not suitable to do my military service. I finally succeeded! However, it was really difficult. I have been exposed to all kinds of humiliation and insult. If you are interested, I would like to share my experience on the current military practices on the issue, just to inform other gay men who do not want to go to the military. I called him immediately. We met and talked.