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Gay in the Turkish Army

One gay man's experience with the Turkish military highlights anew the need for legal protections for the rights of LGBT individuals in Turkey.
Gay rights activists carry a rainbow flag during a protest at Tunel Square in Istanbul June 23, 2013.  REUTERS/Marko Djurica (TURKEY - Tags: CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY) - RTX10Y6V
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Anyone visiting Istanbul’s Taksim Square on June 30 might have been misled into thinking that homosexuals enjoy great freedoms in Turkey. On that day, tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals poured into the area from all corners of Turkey, forming a human sea for a pride march. Waving colorful banners, beating drums and chanting slogans, the exuberant crowd was, in fact, painting a pretty deceptive picture of the status of homosexuals in the country.

In Turkey, homosexuals are sometimes the victims of “honor killings” and face severe discrimination in their social and work lives. The treatment they endure betrays a massive social hypocrisy and deep-rooted homophobia. For instance, in Turkey’s entertainment sector, many homosexuals and transgender people enjoy huge popularity, but these same people would find it virtually impossible to get a job at any average workplace. That is, Turkish society is happy to see homosexuals as singers in nightclubs or as actors on TV, but has no tolerance for them in daily life.

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