The age of consent in Turkey is 18. There are no articles on homosexuality in the law but vague references to public morals and public order. The police has the legal right to take anyone who looks suspicious to the police station for interrogation. The general crime level in big cities is among the lowest in Europe. Nine milliion tourists are expected to visit the country in 1996.

Turkey is geographically, politically, economically in Europe. More than 90% of its population is muslim. The police has wide powers, and some fractions in the police force has close ties with the radical nationalist right-wing groups. Despite the lack of any organized gay bashing, gays have not been allowed to come out and get organized in an open fashion. gay movements so far have been underground movements. "International Christopher Street day" (gay pride) festivities planned to take place in Istanbul in July 1993 was first allowed, and then banned by the local government officials before taking place. A similar attempt to organize a cultural week in September 1995 by Lambda Istanbul was not allowed on the grounds "of public morals".

Homosexuality was a rooted tradition in the era of Ottoman Empire which lasted more than five centuries. It is known that some of the sultans had homosexual affairs and public Turkish baths (hammams) were the common meeting place among men. There were poets and musicians who were known to be homosexual. These traditions lost their power with the westernization of Turkey which came with the establishment of the Republic in 1923. But there is a general acceptance towards effeminate male entertainers. For example the most famous Turkish classical singer Zeki Muren is a latent, extremely flamboyant gay person, and has been so since 1950's or Bülent Ersoy, who is a very popular and has multi-million selling albums although being a transexual.Turkey has a macho culture, and this is reflected in gay attitudes: Traditionally, gays are divided into the active (laco) and the passive (lubunya). However a more recent and a more westernized culture is beginning to gain ground where no categorization is felt necessary.


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