Skip to main content

Socio-political Attitude Towards Lesbians in Turkey

Abstract

This article explores issues of discrimination involving lesbians in Turkey. It analyzes and brings into focus fundamental human rights issues being faced by lesbians in Turkey with the aim of ascertaining why such discrimination still persist in the twenty-first century. The finding of this study reveals that the lesbian identity, or simply queer identity, in Turkey experiences a combination of silencing and suffocating factors: ethics, discourse, religious and state-sanctioned laws, and/or homophobic violence which, in turn, leads to systematic breaches of the social rights of lesbians in employment, housing, family life, education, public life and health care. It further reveals that even a strong social policy that is universal, like the first article of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), fails to put lesbians and other queer individuals on an equal footing with other citizens unless equal citizenship rights of lesbians and anti-discrimination principles are recognized and realized.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Amnesty international USA. Background information on Turkey and LGBT Rights Group Lambda Istanbul. Retrieved from http://www.amnestyusa.org/lgbt-human-rights/background-information/page.do?id=1041177. Accessed June 20, 2016.

  • Auchmuty, R., Jeffreys, S., & Miller, E. (1992). Lesbian history and gay Studies: Keeping a feminist perspective. Women’s History Review, 1(1), 89–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • BIA Haber Merkezi. (2012). Nefret cinayetine Iyi hal indirimi. Retrieved from http://www.bianet.org/bianet/hukuk/139825-nefret-cinayetine-iyi-hal-indirimi. Accessed June 18, 2016.

  • Bilancetti, I. (2011). The hidden existence of female homosexuality in Islam, Jura Gentium-Revista di filosofia del diritto internazionale e dell politica globale. Retrieved from http://www.juragentium.org/topics/islam/mw/en/bilancet.htm. Accessed October 22, 2016.

  • Cayir, K., & Ceyhan, M. A. (2012). Discrimination: Multi-dimensional approaches. Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi University Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davutoğlu, A. (2008). Turkey’s foreign policy vision: An assessment of 2007. Insight Turkey, 10, 77–96.

    Google Scholar 

  • Day, N. E., & Schoenrade, P. (2000). The relationship amongst reported disclosure of sexual orientation, anti-discrimination policies, top management support and work attitudes of gay and lesbian employees. Personnel Review, 29(3), 346–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Engin, C. (2015). LGBT in Turkey: Policies and experiences. Social Science, 4(3), 838–858. doi:10.3390/socsci4030838.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • European Commission. (2013). Turkey progress report 2013.

  • Human Right Watch. (2008). We need a law for liberation: Gender, sexuality, and human right in a changing Turkey. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/file/report/turkey. Accessed May 21, 2016.

  • Hunt, M. E. (1989). On religious lesbians: Contradictions and challenges. In D. Altman, et al. (Eds.), Which homosexuality? Essays from the international scientific conference on lesbians and gay studies. London: Guy Men’s Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hurriyet Daily News. (2010). Homosexuality is a disease says Turkish minister. Retrieved from http://www.Hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx.

  • Kaos, G. L. (2005). Lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Turkey: An overview of issues. Ankara: Kaos GL.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kaos, G. L. (2009). Report on LGB employees: Problems encountered by lesbians, gay and bisexual employees in work life—Account. Ankara: Kaos GL.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kaos, G. L. (2011). LGBT organizations demand the resignation of Interior Minister. Retrieved from http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=10241. Accessed 15 June 2016.

  • Kaos, G. L. (2013). Cinsel Yonelim ve Cinsiyet Kimligi Temelli Insan Haklari Ihlalleri Izleme Raporu, Kaos GL. Retrieved from http://www.kaosgldernegi.org/resim/yayin/dl/lgbt_insan_haklari_raporu_kaosgl_2013.pdf. Accessed 20 June 2016.

  • Kaos, G. L. (2015). LGBTI people’s freedom of expression on the internet. Ankara: Kaos GL.

    Google Scholar 

  • LGBTI News Turkey. (2013). CHP Toprak’s motion to investigate LGBT problems. Retrieved from http://lgbtinewsturkey.com. Accessed June 12, 2016.

  • LGBT News Turkey. (2014). Killing a trans is reason for reduced sentences, Retrieved from http://lgbtinewsturkey.com/killingatransisresontoreducesentence. Accessed June 9, 2016.

  • Öz, Y. (2011). Study on homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Sociological report: Turkey, The Danish Institute for Human Rights.

  • Özturk, M. B. (2011). Sexual orientation discrimination: Exploring the experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees in Turkey. Human Relations, 64(8), 1099–1118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turkish criminal code. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov.tr/basiclaws/criminalcodes.pdf. Accessed June 8, 2016.

  • Pope, N., & Pope, H. (1997). Turkey unveiled: A history of modern Turkey. New York: The Overlook Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ragins, B. R., Cornwell, J. M., & Miller, J. S. (2001). Heterosexism in the workplace: Do race and gender matter? Group and Organizational Management, 28(1), 45–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rospenda, K. M., Richman, J. A., & Shannon, C. A. (2009). Race, racial discrimination and the risk of work-related illness injury or assault: Findings from a national study. Journal Occupational Environmental Medicine, 51(4), 441–448.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Selek, P. (2007). Maskeler, Suvariler, Gacilar. Istanbul: Istiklal Kitabevi.

    Google Scholar 

  • Soyle, F. (2011). Yargi Homofobik Mi? Retrieved from http://bianet.org/biamag/diger/133985-yargi-homofobik-mi. Accessed June 10, 2016.

  • Stanley, L. (1982). Male needs: The problems and problems of working with gay men. In S. Friedman & E. Sarah (Eds.), On the problem of men. London: The Women’s Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Meltem Ince Yenilmez.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ince Yenilmez, M. Socio-political Attitude Towards Lesbians in Turkey. Sexuality & Culture 21, 287–299 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-016-9394-6

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-016-9394-6

Keywords

  • Lesbians
  • Sexual discrimination
  • LGBT issues