Homosexuality is always a popular topic in Turkey because there are always some people who do not want to admit its existence. While some people respect sexual choices, some are prejudiced. One of those strict rules even may be banning a member from the family because of her/his sexual choice. Those families may be religious or effected by the media. Although homosexuality is the reality which a lot of Turkish people usually do not want to accept it, the number of homosexual people who was able to express their identity is rapidly increasing with the support of social organizations.
On the other hand, homosexual people who can express their identities are having also a lot of trouble when they apply for or get into a job. Therefore most of them need to hide their sexual preferences in workplaces to go on without any sexual harassment or discrimination. Those people who deny having homosexual genes in their blood do not know their history well. In Turkish history, there were a lot of proof pointing out homosexuality, especially in the palace of the Ottoman Empire.
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While there was harem in the palace, the sultans were taking handsome and physically perfect boys as slaves into the palace (Murray 175). Those men’s mission was palace service. Before getting into the palace service, they were highly educated to serve their Prince in the best way. Sometimes Sultan Suleiman was spending his time with only men and no women (Murray 177). This is what was written in history but there are also some drawings with homosexual compositions. One such visual proof is in Topkapi Palace Museum, named ‘Turkish Bath”: the men are half naked and serving each other (Murray 27).
With those obvious examples in Turkish history, the people who deny homosexuality in their blood may think twice. The history is in the past, so what is the status of homosexuality in Turkey now? There are some studies made to see what the general behaviors of Turkish families are. The result of those studies shows that gender discrimination is very wide in Turkey. For example, Turkish parents encourage their daughters to be dependent and obedient whereas they raise their sons with less restriction and independence (Oksal 515).
The media has a huge effect on those Turkish parents’ negative attitudes. In traditional Turkish families, parents prefer to use the media as evidence of wrongness than talking about homosexuality with their children. They may give examples of what was happening to homosexuals in Islamic countries or they may use some TV series as a evidence of homosexuality’s immorality. Therefore the children feel some anxiety that expressing their homosexuality would upset their parents in the authority (Oksal 515).
Those confusion because of their families, the first step of hiding sexual identity comes into homosexual people’s lives. Beside family troubles, homosexuals can not express themselves even in public areas such as schools because they may not know or measure the reactions after coming out about their true identity. People who met homosexual people before in their lives are calmer and more positive (C? rakoglu 296). It means that getting people familiar to homosexuality make them respective to sexual preferences and make homosexuals feel better when they think about expressing their sexuality.
The other reason why homosexual people need to hide their sexual preference is sexual harassment and discrimination. When they do not hide their homosexuality, people may call them ‘top’ which is an insulting word or people may ask them how much money they want to have sex with them. Homosexuals may even get physically attacked in public areas where people are intolerant about homosexuals. After those attacks, homosexuals go to the police and ask for help but the answer they get is only a few words like “be more careful” or “do not go out after dark” (Grungras 49).
Those advice given by the police actually do not help. Attacks mainly aim refugees or asylum seekers who live in Turkey and they are mostly from Iran, where the reaction to being homosexual may be death penalty. Although they have equal rights under Turkish law, there is little protection for those people who are facing discrimination or sexual harassment. For example, one asylum seeker gay in Isparta worked in a restaurant for four months but after the boss realized that he is gay, he fired him. Now because of that he has to work as a sex worker to survive (Grungras 50).
Asylum seekers can rarely have work permits, so they look for illegal job sources and many of them who are visibly homosexuals are taunted or humiliated during the application process. Not only employers but also their neighbors humiliate them. Even small children going to school call them ‘top’ (Grungras 49). This issue shows that the effect of parents and the media on the children is very negative. The children spend more time with and learn a lot from media by watching TV series or hearing some news when their parents watches television such as homicide of homosexuals.
While those children treat homosexuals very badly, it would be hopeless case to expect the opposite behavior from their parents. Therefore a lot of homosexuals are having trouble to rent a house. Because of this discrimination, homosexuals try to hide their sexual preference to rent homes. If homosexuals rent a house, they ask for help from some rich homosexuals or look for a house in the areas where is crowed with homosexual people. If some homosexual people were lucky to rent a house with their sexual apparence, then they have to face another problem, looking for a job, but the result of job applications usually ends up with rejection.
Because of that issue, homosexuals try to hide their sexual identities to get into a job. The discrimination between non-homosexual and homosexual people makes homosexuals more ambitious to work and they work harder to earn more money or to be promoted (Elliot 32). While homosexual people are having a lot of problems to survive, the government seems to be offering support but it is not actually the case. One law of Turkish fundamental law is against the discrimination between men and women but it does not include homosexuality.
In the first draft of this law before getting into the fundamental law, there was a topic including the discrimination by sexual preferences offered by AKP’s member of parliament (Yavuz). The parliament did not accept this offered topic. This is the only support homosexuals have when they go to the court after unfair rejections of their job applications. On the other hand, homosexuals have a few advantages they can use in the fundamental law such as changing the sex in their identities. If homosexuals get a surgery to change their physical appearance they have a chance to apply for this change in their identities.
Beside the support of Turkish government, homosexual people are trying to support each other with some organizations. The most active organization in Turkey is Kaos-GL that organizes a lot of activities, panels and more. Those activities include universities to inform young people by saying there is nothing bad about being homosexual. One of the regular activities, which was held in March 2010 was against homophobia and it is an international activity named ‘anti-homophobia’. In this activity, people argue about problems homosexuals have and unfair sexual discrimination homosexuals face.
To Kaos-GL and its members, the underlying reason of discrimination between heterosexual and homosexual people is homophobia. This organization is not the only one which helps homosexuals. Pembe Hayat (Pink Life), LambdaIstanbul, GLADT, ILGA, MEEM, MorEl, ODTU LGBT and BGST are some of others. Those organizations’ common purpose is to defend human rights of homosexuals with social, cultural and academic activities. While average homosexuals in Turkey face with the discrimination and humiliation, a lot of homosexual celebrities have high respect in society, such as Zeki Muren, Bulent Ersoy and Fatih Urek.
Muren is deceased but his music is still popular and Turkish people still talk about him with pride because he was the one of best singers in Turkey. This double standard in society shows that people have sympathy to homosexuals in their hidden feelings. Not only celebrities but also other gay musicians are being liked by society. The most important reason why the are liked is their freedom on stage. They can act however they like and say whatever they desire. They can even contact with ladies so close that they dance and sing with ladies in front of their husbands.
Although gay men are often very handsome, husbands do not feel any jealousy for them and the comfort of the families raises the performance of gay musicians (Shidfar 225). Those musicians are very sympathetic because of their behaviors on stage. The most attracting behavior is their rude speech. The rudeness of their language makes their performances more informal and very sympathetic to society; therefore gay musicians and television programmes gain more popularity and become more successful. This common behavior of gay people can be observed in any time in any place (Shidfar 225).
While the lives of those gay musicians sound fun, their childhoods are not actually that funny. Those gay musicians were generally children of religious families and they were not able to behave like who they were as they behave today. They had to conceal their homosexuality and pretend to be heterosexual (Oksal 514). When they meet with music to express those hidden feelings for many years, they release their initial desires in aesthetic ways of music (Shidfar 225). After releasing those feelings, homosexual singers often become successful. For example, there are a few television programmes produced by gay musicians and hey are getting attention by Turkish people, especially by Eastern people of Turkey. Eastern Turkey is known by religious behaviors and strict rules about men such as they have to be masculine. The women who are wives of those masculine men are being satisfied when they see a man on television with non-masculine apparence because living with masculine men becomes boring in time (Shidfar 226). As a result, when homosexuals are free to express their feelings, they are trying to be best at their jobs and the music is the field they fit in easily because there is not a lot of harassment they have to face with.
With the support of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual) organizations such as KAOS-GL and Pembe Hayat (Pink Life), homosexual people feel more in secure because they can ask for help. For example, there is a LGBT hotline founded by Lambda Istanbul organization since 2004 and the number is +902122445762. It helps homosexuals with giving information, advice and consulting service. After families see that negative reactions coming from families can cause homosexuals suicide or abandon their families, they treat their children better when they commit themselves.
It is hard to remove a huge stereotype that Turkish men must be masculine and can not tolerate homosexuality from people’s minds but with a good education in schools and with the positive attitude of Turkish media, it is possible to move forward. Turkish history also shows that there were homosexuality, even in the palace, and it was quite welcomed. On the other hand, the answer to what the media should do about homosexuality is to treat homosexuals better in TV series, because in some TV series, some masculine man roles may have negative attitudes toward homosexuality and it is the most important example while children watch the television.
If today’s children do not learn to be respective to homosexuality, they would do the same for their employees and fire them because of their sexual choices. Firing employees would not be the only result. When they go for a higher education such as university or college, they would have also homosexual friends and if they do not know how to treat them, open-minded teenagers would be missing for the future of Turkey. WORKS CITED C? rakoglu, Okan Cem. Perception of Homosexuality Among Turkish University Students: The Roles of Labels, Gender, and Prior Contact. ” Journal of Social Psychology 146. 3 (2006): 293-305. Ebscohost. Web. 31 Mar. 2010. Elliot, John E. Homosexual Issues In The Workplace. Ed. Louis Diamant. Washington: Taylor & Francis, 1993. Print. Grungras, Neil, Rachel Levitan, and Amy Slotek. “Unsafe Haven: Security Challenges Facing LGBT Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Turkey. ” The Fletcher Journal of Human Security 24 (2009): 41-61. Praxis The Fletcher School.
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