LGBT history in Turkey

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An illustration from the 19th Century book Sawaqub al-Manaquib depicting homosexual anal sex with a wine boy. Titled at source as "Spilling the wine".

This article is about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history in Turkey.

Ottoman Empire[edit]

During the Ottoman Empire, homosexuality was decriminalized in 1858 as part of wider reforms during the Tanzimat.[1]


19th century[edit]

Abdülmecid I, during the reign of whom homosexuality was decriminalized.

20th century[edit]

  • 1993 - Lambda Istanbul is founded.
  • 1970s - Bulent Ersoy - Worlds first openly transgender celebrity (singer) starts wearing makeup & feminine clothing in her TV & other performances while being widely accepted as a woman (who was born a man).
  • 1994 - KAOS GL (Ankara) is founded.
  • 1994 - ÖDP bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity within the party. Demet Demir of the ÖDP becomes the first transgender candidate to run for political office in Turkish history.
  • 1996 - LEGATO is formed.
  • 1997 - In April, Lambda Istanbul becomes the first Turkish LGBT NGO to be invited by the government to a government conference, namely the National Congress on AIDS; Hamam, a Turkish film featuring a gay romance, is released internationally and broadcast on state television.

21st century[edit]

  • 2003 - The first ever gay pride parade in a predominately-Muslim country is held in Istanbul, Turkey. 30 people are in attendance.
  • 2008 - 26-year-old Ahmet Yildiz is shot and killed by his father at Istanbul, in Turkey's first gay-targeted honor killing. His body remained unclaimed by his family, a grievous fate under Muslim custom.[3]
  • 2008 - Gay pride is first observed in Ankara.
  • 2009 - The referee Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ has been suspended by the Turkish Football Federation after he admitted that is gay. Also, he disavowed by friends and family.[4]
  • 2010 - Çukurova Homosexuals Initiative is founded with members from Adana, Mersin and Antakya.[5]
  • 2013 - First pride parade in Izmir and in Antalya [6] [7]
  • 2014 - The 2014 Pride march is considered as the biggest until now, with more than 100.000 participants. And turned out to be one of the biggest LGBT Pride march ever in Southeastern Europe. Politicians of the biggest opposition party, CHP and another opposition party, BDP also lent their support to the demonstration.[8]
  • 2015 - For the first time, Turkish authorities banned the annual Gay pride parade. The police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against the marchers. [9]
  • 2016 - The Pride march was banned by the authorities. [10]
  • 2017 - The Pride march was banned by the authorities. [11]
  • 2017 - The Ankara Governor’s Office banned the Germany's embassy LGBT Film Festival.[12]
  • 2017 - Turkey's first LGBT chorus 7 Color Chorus was established.[13]
  • On 17 November 2017 - The governor’s office of Ankara has banned all the public showing of all films, exhibitions and events related to LGBT, citing "public sensitivities."[14] On 19 November, two LGBT rights organizations said they would launch a legal process against the decision.[15]

See also[edit]