Turkey: Problems of lesbians, gays and bisexuals in Istanbul

Lambdaistanbul LGBTT Initiative
*Lambdaistanbul LGBT Initiative,* started some research, whose results were brought together in a book entitled *"Neither Wrong Nor Alone!"* in 2005.
Lambdaistanbul LGBT Initiative organized this survey which was put to life through scientific methods, through face-to-face interviews with 393 gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in Istanbul.
They say: We asked the people we interviewed about the problems they face because of their sexual orientation. As you know, Lambdaistanbul is an organization which has been working about the problems of gays, lesbians,, bisexuals, and transgenders for 13 years. Our culture center works as a place where people gather to talk, confide and share their problems. For getting beyond confiding problems and producing permanent solutions, we needed to assemble our problems systematically. When an adequately extensive research did not come out from academics, we got ready to start the job with the support of academics. The results some of which we will share with you in a while, is an indicator of the problems experienced by 393 gays, lesbians, and bisexuals we had the opportunity to reach. In our society there are many non-heterosexual men and women who are the only ones that know about their experiences and can not share with others, just like the two men in the film *Brokeback Mountain. *Consequently we suppose our survey does not reflect the problems of all gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in Istanbul, and the numbers stand optimistic. Still we wish to share some results that we find remarkable.
  • Of 393 people interviewed, 38% is female, 62% is male.
  • 56% is seized by negative feelings about his/her sexual orientation through lack of correct information on the subject.
  • 58% is afraid of being isolated because of his/her sexual orientation.
  • 40% reluctantly forces himself/herself to heterosexual relationships.
  • 83% hides his/her sexual orientation from all or some of nuclear family members.
  • Of 378 people in contact with their family members, 89% hides his/her sexual orientation from all or some.
  • Of 160 students 82% hides his/her sexual orientation from all or some of teachers, school administration, and schoolmates.
  • Of 268 people working, 88% hides his/her sexual orientation from all or some of employers, directors, employees, or co-workers.
Coming out is responded by:
  • the question "are you sure?" by 66%
  • "see a psychologist/psychiatrist" advice by 52%
  • "you don't look like them (gays, lesbians, bisexuals) at all" comment by 75%
  • slurring over the subject and remaining silent, by 50%
  • 63% has to pretend he/she has a heterosexual partner.
  • 70% experiences pressures as either "marry anyway" or finding a husband/wife against his/her will.
  • Of 242 males we interviewed, 10% has been taken to brothel against his will.
  • Of 393 people interviewed, 23% experiences physical violence because of his/her sexual orientation.
  • 87% experiences at least one of social violence types such as verbal remarks, ignorance, or contact cutoff because of his/her sexual orientation.
  • Of 178 people having seen a psychologist or psychiatrist and talked on his/her sexual orientation,
  • 33% has visited only because others wanted him/her to, while himself/herself felt it was meaningless.
  • 67% has experienced negative approaches or practices by the psychologist or psychiatrist visited such as forcing to become heterosexual, forcing medical cure, or misinforming about the issue of sexual orientation.
  • Of 27 males who applied for military obligation exemption report, 29% was obliged to provide a photograph taken during sexual relationship, and 62% was forced to anal examination.
As you see, our problems are versatile. Therefore, the solutions should also be versatile and extensive. With the results we have, we plan to knock at the doors of NGOs and govermental organizations. We, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders receiving our share of increasing violence events everywhere, think that our problems can only be solved through communication and mutual understanding efforts.

By this means, anyone who doesn't want to be isolated and talk about the problems being faced, may reach us through our counselling desk. The telephone number of our helpline is *0(212) 244 57 62.