Gay military recruits were previously forced into degrading tests to prove that they were gay.
In Turkey, homosexuals are exempt from serving in the army, which is compulsory for men aged between 20 and 41. In order to prove their exemption, gay men were being forced into rectal examinations, and even made to photograph themselves having sex.
Turkey’s Armed Forces Physical Capabilities Regulation code classifies homosexuality as a ‘psychosexual disorder’, and states that those whose ‘sexual manners and behavior cause or are expected to cause problems of adaptation and functionality in a military environment’ should be excluded from service.
The Turkish Armed Forces have now relaxed this policy, meaning that these humiliating methods will no longer be enforced. Being exempt from the Turkish military does mean having your sexual orientation listed on your official record, which could then lead to further discrimination.
Any gay recruit who does want to serve in the military is able to, as long as they don’t disclose their sexual orientation, but if it is discovered or disclosed at a later time they risk expulsion. A man known only as Ahmet told Al-Monitor: “Being gay in Turkey is difficult, but for a gay of draft age, these difficulties become a hell.
“The medical examination [to determine fitness] for military service is perhaps the first challenge in your life that forces you to make a choice between your gay identity and social realities.”
Words Danielle Hutley