Turkish Delight

Islamic country Turkey gets its first umbrella LGBTI organization to fight homophobia.

Turkey has long been a destination popular with gays and lesbians due to its sunshine, history, picturesque ruins and architecture, gorgeous coastline and delicious food. However, it is an Islamic country and has therefor raised safety questions for women and lesbian travelers, and especially transgender people.

Now, however, a new umbrella organization has been established to help fight homophobia and transphobia in Turkey, reports GayAsiaNews.com. It’s good news for those of us who like to sample the ancient comforts of this country that sits between Europe and Asia, whether that takes the form of a Turkish bath or a pillowy piece of Turkish delight!

While Istanbul is a cosmopolitan city of 18-million, it can be an intimidating experience for a lesbian traveler. To help cushion your travel experience you can seek an accommodation provider through The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), which recommends booking Istanbul-area tours or travel deals with select LGBT-friendly companies. But outside of this, a new Turkish LGBT organization is helping to change things across the board.

Only two months old, the Turkey LGBTI Union was created in order to ensure unity and solidarity among LGBTI groups, LGBTI web sites and LGBTI organizations.

“Because Turkey is an Islamic country, although not in the same league as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq in its vehemently anti-LGBTI stance, there is still need for togetherness and solidarity among LGBTI groups to counter the homophobia and transphobia that exists in Turkey,” said Burçin Bordanac of the Turkey LGBTI Union. To date, Turkey LGBTI Union has three LGBT organizations and three LGBTI Web sites that have become members stated Bordanac.

Turkey LGBTI Union is based in the Turkish capital of Ankara and was founded by a gay activist known as Nikopol, who formed an LGBTI community/club in Turkey in 2006 and has since used the Internet and social media to unite Turkish LGBTs. The club has been a member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) since 2012. The objectives are to help safeguard LGBTI rights, push for equality laws and counter homophobia and transphobia that exists in Turkish society.

While same-sex relations have been legal in Turkey since 1858, the law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity within its legal or civil rights structure and does not recognize same-sex couples. In recent years, with so much unrest and militant activity in the Middle East, some conservative Islamic sections of Turkish society have actively opposed the LGBT community and advocated for the persecution of LGBTs.

The Constitution Reconciliation Commission had agreed in 2013 to provide constitutional protection against discrimination for the LGBTI community. However, that draft proposal was later cancelled on the pretext that it conflicted with other parts of the new Constitution.