INTERNATIONAL SPECTRUM: In Turkey, the Obstacles are Bureaucratic
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Published in: March-April 2010 issue.


BARIS RECOUNTED the nerves he felt standing next to numerous other men in his underwear, being measured and examined to determine his military eligibility. Military service is compulsory in Turkey, barring any serious medical issues.

“Do you have any problems?” asked a doctor on the medical board. Baris, assuming that the question was directed at his physical condition, correctly answered no. As a dancer and back-up singer to a popular Turkish performer, Baris (not his real name) is in peak condition. The board, feeling satisfied about his physical and mental suitability quickly announced he was eligible. Shaken by this, Baris announced that he needed to go to the psychiatrist to be cleared for being a homosexual man. He needed to get his “Pink Card,” the colloquial term for a medical discharge due to a “psychosexual disorder.” The medical examiner, annoyed by the brief confusion, asked why Baris hadn’t mentioned his “disorder” when he had been previously prompted. He was sent to another room for the administration of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which was followed by a brief interview with a psychiatrist. His hospital visit was later used as evidence in front of the enlistment court that would make the final decision on his case.

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