Until now, gay men requesting an exemption from the army were required to present the army with photographs showing them having homosexual intercourse
Turkey has compulsory military service for all male citizens between the ages of 20 and 41 and those drafted must serve for between six and twelve months depending on their level of education.
The only people exempt from service are disabled people, people with a medical condition and homosexuals.
Turkey’s Armed Forces Physical Capabilities Regulation code categorizes 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 military is the only member of NATO that regards homosexuality as a psychological disorder.
If a gay conscript does wish to serve in the military he must not disclose his sexual orientation. If it is discovered or disclosed at a later time they risk expulsion.
Until now the Turkish armed forces forced gay men to ‘prove’ their identity before exempting them from the draft.
This obligued gay men to undergo rectal medical examinations and show photographs of themselves having sex with men.
However, the Turkish military has now relaxed that policy.
From now on, those claiming an exemption on the grounds of their homosexuality need to be observed by a doctor who will hear their declaration of their sexual orientation and then make a decision based on that declaration alone.
While the process of obtaining an exemption from military service has been made easier, getting an exemption also means having your sexual orientation listed on your official record. This could lead to future discrimination.
A 27-year-old gay man, ‘Ahmet,’ told Al-Monitor that being of draft age was worrying for gay Turkish men.
‘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,’ Ahmet said.
‘In that examination, we can get an “unfit report,” which we call the “pink certificate.” But getting this report means that you disclose and document your gay identity. And in your life afterward, this means social exclusion, loss of job opportunities, no chance of becoming a public employee, increasing snubs and pressure from your social environment or, in short, you ruin your life.’
© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.