While it took a huge cultural shift and immense political pressure to grant gay and lesbian volunteers the right to serve openly in the United States military, gay men in Turkey have to move mountains to get out of an army that does not want them in the first place.

Turkish men are required to spend time in the military, but the government, which still considers homosexuality a mental disorder, does not want active-duty gays. The BBC has a magazine piece this weekend that documents some of the bizarre and humiliating requirements for gay Turks looking to win their “pink certificate” in order to be excused from mandatory military service.

BBC: ”They asked me if I had any photographs.” Gokhan says, ”And I did.”

He had gone prepared with explicit photographs of himself having sexual intercourse with another man, having heard that it would be impossible to get out of military service without them.

”The face must be visible,” says Gokhan. ”And the photos must show you as the passive partner.” Read more

Another man profiled by the article was asked to dress in women’s clothes. He refused, and his pink certificate was delayed by a year. The BBC reports that the military keeps the photos, which can potentially be used to embarrass the dismissed men, and the commanders may out the men to inquirers — an employer, in one example.

Nonetheless, the article points out that in many ways, Turkey is a bastion of gay freedom compared with some of its neighbors in the Arab world. — PZS

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