Two gay tourists coming to Turkey from the United Kingdom were taken into custody upon their arrival at the airport without any justification and were deported.
Source: Burcu Karakas, “Eşcinsel turistler İzmir’de gözaltına alındı, gerekçesiz sınır dışı edildi,” Journo, 20 October 2017, https://journo.com.tr/escinsel-turistler-sinir-disi-edildi
Bilal Sadiq, the British citizen who was sent back to his country, said, “As far as we can tell, the officer who checked our phones did not like what he saw and did not let us in the country because we are gay. We are shocked.” Bilal Sadiq (28) a British citizen of Pakistani origin and Polish citizen Tomasz Pawel Walus (25) came to Izmir on Oct. 14 to visit a friend. A person approached them while they were waiting at the passport control line in Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. The police officer dressed as a civilian asked them the reason for their visit to Turkey. Bilal Sadiq told Journo that the officer asked him of his origins, told them to get out of the line and wait elsewhere. Said said “We first thought he was asking questions for control purposes. Half an hour later another person in charge came and asked for our phones.”
‘When is Gay Pride Walk organized?’
Sadiq said that the officer read his WhatsApp messages after taking the phone and looking at the photos. “They realized that we are gay. Then he asked for my friend’s phone. He asked him questions too. Then we went to an office.” Sadiq reported that he was also asked if he and his friends were lovers. The young British man said that after he explained they were just friends, he was asked when the LGBTI Pride Walk in Turkey is organized:
“While asking this, they were showing the photos to each other and laughing. As I don’t speak Turkish, I didn’t understand what they were saying. They told us that we can’t enter Turkey and we have to go back to England. I was shocked when I heard this. This wasn’t the first time I came to Turkey but it’s the first time I experienced such a thing. I never had any problems before. They didn’t give any reasons either.”
‘No one gave any reason for the decision to deport’
Sadiq said that his friend Tomasz Pawel Walus asked why they were being deported after taking back the phones but received no reply, and that the officers became aggressive when they wanted a written document. “None of the authorities at the airport gave us a reason. We were where we were taken into custody. I was able to let my friends in Turkey know, they couldn’t believe what happened either” said the British tourist, explaining that the authorities wanted to send them back to their countries on the first flight but when the pilot did not accept them they had to spend the night in custody at the airport. When they were told that they would have to wait until Wednesday, the two friends suggested that they could go to another city besides London, but they were told that this was not possible, and that the procedure must be followed. Later they were told they can go elsewhere if they are willing to pay for themselves. The tourists had to buy a ticket to Munich, paying 2000 liras for a one way tickets and were deported on October 15.
‘Their attitudes changed after they looked at the photos’
They were told that their passport would be given to the pilot and they would be able to get them back after landing, but the airport authorities gave their passports back before they got on the flight. When they arrived Germany they thought they would be received by German authorities but that did not happen. Sadiq said “As far as we can tell, the officer who checked our phones did not like what he saw and did not let us in because we are gay.” Sadiq suggested that the officers changed their attitude after looking at the photos: “They were asking questions politely. Then they changed their attitudes and got rude. I wasn’t expecting this. It has been a terrible experience”.
The gay tourists also stated that they called the British Consulate but the consulate authorities told them they couldn’t do anything. Sadiq said that neither he nor his friend has any priors, that they haven’t filed any complaints about the deportation yet but are thinking of starting legal procedures.