Turkey is a predominantly conservative country, where morality is based primarily, although not exclusively, on Islamic beliefs and traditions, especially when it comes to sexuality. A secular outlook on life, however, and related libertarian concepts of ethics and individual rights also have a history in Turkey going back more than a century. It is because of this that gay pride pageants, unthinkable in other preponderantly Muslim countries, can be held in Istanbul without the kinds of homophobic attacks one sometimes sees at such events, including in some conservative Orthodox Christian communities in the region.
This does not, however, mean that there is broad social acceptance of homosexuality or that life is easy for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Ekin Keser and Emrullah Tuzun, two gay men in their 20s, found this out the hard way after they decided in early September to publicly “marry” in Istanbul. It was not going to be an official marriage, of course, because Turkey is far from accepting such marriages, let alone providing legal protection for members of the LGBT community.